Postat 10 iunie 2007 - 13:35
Eu voi pune aici parerea uni scriitor american, cei impatimiti de SF au auzit sigur de el, Orson Scott Card. Scuze, e un pic cam lungutz textul, dar merita citit!
"So I asked them, weeks before the final, to prepare for me a report on their personal American experience. I asked them to think of artistic elements of culture, of course, but also the other things that they had in common with other Americans. Holiday customs. School experiences. Vacations. Shopping. Makeup. Clothing. Rites of passage.
It did not have to be an essay and I did not anticipate a narrative. What I asked for was a simple listing under the title "My American Culture."
Their responses were as individual as they were. Many of them were stream-of-consciousness -- one thought led to another and they wrote it down, often in sentence fragments.
Others wrote virtual memoirs of their childhood. Still others wrote essays explaining why they had not actually grown up in American culture, because for various reasons they either were or felt excluded from it.
Without meaning to, I had given them an approach to writing a de-personalized personal memoir.
When you assign people to write something entitled "My Life," they usually end up writing inanities, starting with events they don't remember (their birth, etc.) and rambling on and on, skipping everything personal and interesting so they can report on the official "highlights" of their lives.
This assignment gave them a different structure. They could skip their birth. They focused instead on what they had observed of the society around them. Since it needed no form, they could simply report more-or-less directly on what they saw through the lens of memory, looking not at themselves, but at others.
Self-consciousness was not erased -- indeed, some of the essays and narratives were almost painfully self-revelatory. But they didn't have to describe their own actions, which always leads to self-justification, and instead tried to recover how the world had looked to them as they were growing up.
You might try this yourself sometime. Of course, college students have little to report on but their childhood, being so recently graduated from it; adults nearer my own age might not have the same results -- might be distracted by memories of adult experiences. But then, that wouldn't be wrong, either!
As I read these fascinating papers, however, I began to synthesize something from the things they had written about. Student after student inadvertently told stories about decisions their parents had made.
A surprising number of them had been home schooled, and the experiences they described suggested parents who wanted to raise open-minded children who were not afraid of learning anything.
And an even more surprising number of them told of choices their parents had made which, as children, my students had simply taken for granted.
Of course their father had taken a relatively low-paying job and sacrificed any thought of a prominent career, in order that his kids could grow up in a small town.
Of course the parents had moved, not to a richer neighborhood, but to a more family-friendly one. Or from one town to another to get them away from negative influences.
Above all, many of these parents had chosen to accept a lower standard of living so that their children could grow up with at least one parent always in the home, and both parents easily accessible to their children all the time.
They had seen what they believed was good for their children, and they had done it, seemingly without regard for society's expectations.
In an American culture where women are looked down on if they have chosen to be "homemakers" instead of pursuing a career, an American culture where men are judged solely on how much income they command and how they display their monetary achievements, these parents had deliberately stepped out of the main stream and into paths that would give them less respect in the world -- but happier children.
Naturally, not all parents had made those choices and I'm not criticizing them in any way. They are Americans and it's natural that they would experience the pressures of social expectations and make the common choices.
But the number of them who had chosen for their children's sake rather than their own -- the number who had shaped their lives to give their children homes full of parental love and attention and presence instead of money and prestige -- forced me to stop and examine my own life.
What was I doing, driving three hours each way to teach at a university? I would leave on Tuesday morning and not be home till late Thursday night. I still have a newly teenaged daughter at home.
What message was I giving her, compared to the message these other parents had given their children?
Wasn't the message: "Being a professor and getting to do cool stuff at a university is so important to me that I will miss 3/7 of your remaining years at home"?
In other words, I was saying: "Other people's children are more important to me than you are."
I had thought that I was doing something quite noble and wonderful -- and, in the long view, it's hard to think of a nobler and more wonderful profession than teaching.
But most parents who absent themselves from their children's lives believe they're doing something noble and wonderful.
Until I read about what my students' parents had done for them, I couldn't see how I was not practicing what I preached.
Even as I told people in essays and speeches that the most important gift parents can give their children is their physical presence in a loving home, I was going off to another city three days a week -- and I couldn't even pretend I had to do it for money, because that isn't how I made my living.
I had made a commitment to the university that I would teach at a certain number of courses. But I had made a commitment to my child, simply by having her, and that commitment took precedence.
I loved teaching. I think I did it well, or at least well enough. I had the chance to work with some extraordinary young people and I enjoyed the process.
But I won't be there next fall. I won't be there next year. I might find some compromise -- one semester out of four -- but that remains to be seen.
In five years my last child at home will go off to college. Maybe then I can return to teaching in a serious way.
But while I have a child at home, my career is as a father; everything else is either a job or a hobby, and must be compromised as needed so I can fulfil that foremost task.
My place, insofar as it is possible, is at home. "
Impotriva prostiei, zeii insisi lupta in zadar