by J J Cohen
Summer? A distant memory. Both my kids went back to school last week: Katherine to the "Big Kid School" (really, a wooden shack where they store the pre-K children). Alex started middle school, a movement from a tiny public school to a vast one. Both were a little frightened of their transitions: Katherine cried and told us she was scared to go to the new building. Alex had a recurring nightmare that the world had been taken over by hungry zombies and that he was the only person left alive. He took to sleeping with the covers over his head so that he wouldn't see the undead cannibals when they arrived to ingest him.
I'm sitting in my office prepping for a Chaucer class, wondering why I still get butterflies after teaching the course at GW in some permutation or another since 1994. My son could scarcely believe me when I confided my anxiousness as he brushed his teeth this morning. "Teachers get nervous?" he asked incredulously. "But they are the ones in power!"
Sort of. But a good class -- a class worth teaching -- has to be a communal event, one where the students have something at stake and care about what unfolds in the room. That takes work. And rigor. And cordiality. And a certain amount of charm. So, butterflies in the stomach? You'd better believe it.