April 1, 2008

Books That Cook

A colleague of mine from the community college where I teach recently sent me an article from the March issue (which was all about food!) of College English. The article, "Books That Cook: Teaching Food and Food Literature in the English Classroom," by Jennifer Cognard-Black and Melissa A. Goldthwaite details how they designed literature courses around food and food writing.

It's essentially my dream course to teach...one full of reading about food and cooking, watching films about food and cooking, talking about food and cooking, and ultimately actually cooking and eating the foods you've read about, watched, and discussed. It gave me goosebumps.

Towards the end of the article, Goldthwaite writes:
A syllabus is a kind of recipe created from imagination, experience, and available ingredients—and with time constraints and audience in mind. As I do every summer, I read and cook, eat and think, call friends and colleagues for suggestions, and try to find or alter the recipe for my ever-changing course on the literatures of food.

Reading that made me feel jealous and sad. I want so much to be able to spend a summer reading, cooking, eating, thinking, and preparing for the upcoming semester. I have great ideas for my courses, but simply no time to prepare for them. Since I am only an adjunct at the schools where I teach, my summer schedule is completely full...I usually teach a creative writing workshop for middle school and high school students all day (from 9-3:30), then teach college classes four nights a week (from 6:30-9:30), and work elsewhere on the weekends. It's exhausting.

And, I've been doing that each summer for eight years. Anyone who thinks teaching is easy because we get summers "off" is mistaken. Not all teachers get summers off. Even those who don't have to teach during the summer usually still spend those months researching and preparing for the next school year.

Hopefully, I'll get a full-time teaching job (or any other job, for that matter!) for fall. That way, I can let my passion for teaching, reading, writing--and cooking--consume my summer.

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