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Allegory of the Outfit

Walking up to Pummill (the English Dept. building), I realized that, if you were looking at my feet, and the lime-ish green flip-flops I’m wearing, you might think I’m… younger than I am, closer to my students’ ages. Then, you might glance up.

To my black cardigan. Then, you might think I’m a 50-something prof.

*sigh* Stuck in the middle: the flips are comfy, and the cardigan… well, it hides things. Oh, yeah, and it keeps me warm. :P


Okay, now I know why I posted that. I think some where deep down, I felt its symbolic significance, but I had to let it stew in my brain. I try not to post things that you, the reader, might find boringly dull, and after hitting “Post Blog” this morning, I thought I had done just that. Now, six hours and four classes later, I think I know why I took the time to share with you my insecurities about today’s outfit.

I think the paradox in my outfit mimics my academic persona. I am a student. At the same time, I am a teacher. When I am in front of a class, no matter how hard I try, I still try to understand the student’s perspective in the matter as a student, not as a teacher trying to understand the student. I, as a young Graduate Teaching Assistant, feel like I am in the unique position to do that, whereas some of my older GTA peers or professors are not.

Is this a weakness? I often ask the student who has come to me with a problem, “What do you think is fair way to solve this?” Most of my American students will usually agree with the course of action that I have set forth. Most of my international students will say something about how I am the teacher and they have no right to dictate their punishment/treatment. This led me to the thought that perhaps my students expect me to behave more like a teacher and make the decision without considering their point of view on the matter, to make the decision based on my principles as a teacher.

My guiding principle is fairness to all students. I learned last semester with a student who had special needs, that fairness sometimes means that not everyone will receive the same treatment. Fairness to a student with diagnosed ADHD means extra time. It took me a while to truly understand that, but now I believe that our situations can, sometimes, dictate what is fair. It is hard as a teacher to know what is fair to that person standing in front of me, and I can only say at the end of the day that I did my best.

Wow… look at that interpretation of the “text” of my outfit… maybe I should have stuck to the literature track after all? :P

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