I’m putting together a proposal for a memoir based on material from this blog. What do you think?
Siobhan Curious Falls In Love Again:
Since August 2007, I have been keeping a pseudonymous blog called “Siobhan Curious,” which details and reflects upon my classroom experiences as a CEGEP teacher. The blog has a regular and growing audience and is a forum for many active and thought-provoking discussions among teachers, students, parents and lay observers.
In October 2008, I began cross-posting to the “Open Salon” blog network at Salon.com, the celebrated American online news magazine. I took raw material from my original blog, developed it into more coherent narrative essays, and posted it on my new blog, “Classroom as Microcosm.” The response to these essays has been breathtaking, sometimes overwhelming; they have regularly been “Editors’ Picks,” been chosen as Open Salon “cover stories” for the day, and inspired reams of comments.
Several of my regular readers have asked if and when I intend to develop my blog essays into a book. I have always replied “yes,” and “soon.”
I would now like to begin working on this book.
I began the blog as a way to grapple with my growing disillusionment with my job, a job I used to passionately love. I began teaching when I was a teenager and was immediately seized by the desire to do this work for the rest of my life. My job consumed me heart and soul for fifteen years, and my feelings about my daily tasks, my students, and the significance of my role were nothing short of rapturous.
And then, one day – suddenly, it seemed, although of course it wasn’t truly sudden – I was tired, and bored, and angry, and bitter. I dreaded the beginning of the school year. I snapped at students and dragged myself through the chores of marking papers and planning classes. I began to consider, very seriously, whether a change of career was in order.
Instead of throwing in the towel, however, I decided to use this crisis as an opportunity. My feelings, I realized, might be about teaching, but they paralleled feelings that almost everyone has, at some point in his or her life, about something, whether it’s a job, a marriage, a spiritual path, or another object of desire.
We “fall in love” with someone, or something, and we commit. We rarely consider that maybe, someday, we will fall out of love. And if we do, we then have to examine the commitment. What did it mean? Do we wish to break it? Or is commitment, in and of itself, something to cherish and honour, regardless of the intensity of positive or negative feelings behind it? Have we really fallen out of love, or have we simply entered a new stage, one with greater depth and potential than our initial infatuation?
If teaching is a “vocation” – and I believe it is – then it has many things in common with religious ordination. One can lose one’s faith. One can discover that one was mistaken – what one thought was “vocation” was simply fervour.
If a commitment to a job is like a marriage – and I believe it is – then it is prey to a number of marital difficulties. What is novel, exciting and charming can eventually become dull and irritating. Routines can be comforting, but they can also feel suffocating.
In the memoir Siobhan Curious Falls In Love Again, I would like to explore what happens when the honeymoon ends, the magic is gone, and we decide to honour the commitment anyway. Through a series of personal stories, each focusing on an issue that is central, not only to a teacher’s work, but also to human life (cheating, difficult people, decision-making, ego-clinging, the struggle to feel good about oneself and one’s role in the world, etc.), I would like to illustrate how – beginning perhaps with my generation – we have become a society whose choices are so numerous and whose ideas about “security” are so (understandably) cynical that we no longer place a value on commitment. I’d like to examine what the real fruits of commitment – as opposed to the fantasy of “happily ever after” – may be. And I’d like to demonstrate what happens when we decide, instead of abandoning a rocky road, to roll up our sleeves, draw up some plans, and begin the difficult task of clearing (or occasionally picking our way around) the debris in our path.