Why Teach English?

We were talking about professing English in the required Theory seminar of Kent State’s English literature doctoral program.  Until that time, I hadn’t really formulated why I wanted to teach English–at least in a concrete way.  My original vector had to do with the academic rigor of research and sharing ideas with a community of peers.  Over time, my approach to professing English broadened to include the community of students in my charge.  I thought back to my Latin teacher in high school, Magistra Ingrid Metz, and some of my early English professors at Georgia Tech such as Professors Holloway-Attaway, Rebecca Merens, and Lisa Yaszek.  Each of these professors, as well as others, imparted something beyond the subject matter that each individual course was about.  I learned writing and studying skills from Magistra Metz.  Professor Holloway-Attaway helped me improve my writing skills as well as introduced me to a whole world of music that until that time I was oblivious to.  Professor Merens helped me find the right path for me at Georgia Tech as well as listened to me on the morning that I found out my grandmother had died.  Professor Yaszek introduced me to the world of academia, SF authors, and her many friends at ABC Brewery.  I want to do that for upcoming college students.  You might say that my desire to teach is a politically motivated action.  I want to introduce them to new ideas and as yet unseen possibilities.  I want to share with them the things that I think are important and enjoyable in this world.  They may not accept all that I have to offer, but the few things accepted and the students that I connect with, will be the rewards that I’m looking for.  Those are the things that will hopefully lead to a better world and a more fulfilled life for myself and my students.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.