I look over some photos with Western Kentucky University student Brittany Greeson at the Mountain Workshops. (photo by Cassidy Johnson)There’s a teaching job open at a nearby university. I half-considered applying for it, until I realized a couple things. One, it requires that you teach poetry. My appreciation of poetic form basically starts and ends with “There once was a man from Nantucket.”
I know poets and was taught by one of the best, William Palmer at Alma College. Whereas I might see a fallen leaf on my windshield, he sees nature’s parking ticket. I couldn’t teach poetry to a skinless mole rat on valium, let alone a human teenager.
The other problem with me getting a position at this institution of higher yearning is that I’ve applied to their English Department before. Remember that phrase, “English Department.” After all was said and done, here is the now-famous rejection response I got back:
“Dear Mr. Curtis, We received a high number of applications from extremely well-qualified candidates. The pool was so outstanding that we regret that we have only one position available. We have now filled the position. Unfortunately, our search ended this year without making a hire.”
The often used phrase “Wait, what?” comes to mind. I think they may have been just seeing if I was paying attention.
I love teaching. Having just returned from my latest week-long volunteer gig teaching at The Mountain Workshops, I’ve realized once again how enjoyable it is to help guide students along their own trajectories. Once upon a time, I thought it best to mold them to my personal way of seeing. Nowadays, I try to help them toward expressing their own visions. Age and experience has helped me make that transition.
I have taught photography, writing, book production, picture editing, multimedia and online journalism. I’ve held classes in a sand-filled darkroom at a summer camp, atop a parking structure at that college in East Lansing and have even schooled presidential candidates on the proper way to take a “selfie.”
Most every educator I’ve spoken with lately has said I should rip up my current resume and instead highlight my skills in electronic publishing. The fact that I will soon have three books available on the iPad, Kindle, smartphone and — I don’t know, a can of SPAM — is apparently an impressive accomplishment. So these days I’m revamping my resume and pushing that to the top (probably not the SPAM thing though).
They’ve even counseled me to leave information off my resume. They say I have too much experience and might want to limit the number of quick, less-than-a-year internships and such. I guess it’s not important that I worked for some places that don’t even exist any more. Though no one could check if I were to say “I was the lead visual journalist for the Detroit Daily Press.” (Full disclosure: I was.)
Back when I was in college the first time around, there were certain Caribbean nations that offered flimsy, seemingly fly-by-night degrees from universities of questionable repute. If worst comes to worst, I figure they probably need flimsy professors of questionable repute to teach those classes. Those universities are still around, Google tells me. Some of ‘em are even ranked among the top 20,000 of colleges worldwide. Whoa, sign me up!
At the end of this latest workshop, one of my students left a sign saying I “rocked,” (Full disclosure: it said Mick — my partner in crime — also rocked. Which he does.)
The way I see it, if I enjoy teaching so much and my students enjoy learning so much, there’s bound to be another employment opportunity out there for me somewhere. Whether it’s around here, the Caribbean, or even Nantucket remains to be seen.