I'm not talking about the daily drudge of bell schedules and the busywork, but those special moments where your teacher says something that totally clicks in your brain and the lightbulb goes off, and your whole world CHANGES because you JUST learned something awesome. As an adult, even one who teaches, I don't get a lot of those moments anymore. Well, I just had one today... :)
I just bought A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen, and while I'm only through a couple of the essays, it's really awakening the academic in me. I haven't been a student since 2005, when I got my MA in English, and I've long since buried that part of me in favor being the teacher. All of my "high-falutin' mumbo jumbo" had to be put on the backburner because my kids can't do that stuff; I'm going to be honest and say that I do have to dumb myself down a little bit in order to be able to explain the things that I know in a language that they understand. In a way, I feel like I've lost touch with that intellectual academic part of myself; in some ways, I feel like I'm actually less intelligent than I used to be. Please understand: I'm not saying that my kids are dumb and I'm becoming dumb because I teach them; I'm saying that high school kids are not at the same level as grad students, and to be able to teach high school students, I kind of have to put myself in their shoes to help them learn, and by spending more and more time in their shoes, I'm not spending nearly enough time in MY shoes.
Sometimes I re-read my Master's thesis to remind myself. I kind of feel like if I had to write another one right now, it wouldn't be nearly as good. When you don't use certain muscles for a long time, they atrophy; I feel like that's what's happened to my mental muscles. I tell people I don't really read because I don't have time to; the truth is, I don't really read because I'm afraid to. I'm deathly afraid that my brain isn't strong enough to handle anything smarter than Twilight anymore. (And Twilight isn't remotely smart.) Okay, well, I can make it through all the articles in Bust and Bitch magazines, so that's not bad.
Anyway... so, I've started reading this book about why Jane Austen is awesome, and it's making me want to go back and read/re-read all her books. (Full disclosure: I have not read all her books. And I call myself an Austenite. I really need to go hang my head in shame.) I'm reading Susanna Clarke's essay, and in it, she talks about how any visual/physical description we get (of people, of landscapes, etc) are not for the purpose of painting a visual for the reader, but to establish character, and she gives some examples, and all of a sudden, I can feel those mental muscles in my brain flexing again, because I'm running through all of the visual descriptions I can remember (which aren't much, because it's been a while, and again, I haven't even read all her books to begin with), and I realize that it IS true! When Austen describes Pemberley, it's not so we can see what Pemberley looks like in our heads! It's so we can see how responsible and tasteful Mr. Darcy is, and therefore, we see why he should be evaluated as trustworthy and credible!
And all of a sudden, I want to go through all the books and write down everything on this issue. In short, I bet it would BE a thesis' worth of work.
So now, I am wanting to write a thesis.
And then, I am wanting to go to grad school and be a student again.
But of course, I won't. (AND I'M DIRECTING THAT AT THOSE OF YOU GOSSIP MONGERS ON STAFF AT MHS WHO CAN'T MIND YOUR OWN BEESWAX.) I'm not in a position to go income-less, and besides, I do really enjoy teaching at the high school level. And I'm tenured. And I wouldn't leave my junior officers for anything.
So what's an academic wannabe to do? I could make the push and write it anyway, and no matter how bad it might end up being (due to my lack of sources and resources, time, writing skills, etc), at least I will have done it.
... Okay, right now, at least, I'm going to go right over yonder and sit back down on the couch and continue reading my book, as I was so gladly interrupted by my epiphany. And maybe when I'm done, I will pick up another book... and then another... and then maybe eventually I'll pick up a pen and a notebook, and I'll begin to find myself again...