I’m teaching some Montaigne essays next week. Reread this passage today, from his “On the education of children”:
Be that as it may; I mean that whatever these futilities of mine may be, I have no intention of hiding them, any more than I would a bald and grizzled portrait of myself just because the artist has painted not a perfect face but my own. Anyway these are my humours, myopinions: I give them as things which I believe, not as things to be believed. My aim is to reveal my own self, which may well be different tomorrow if I am initiated into some new business which changes me. I have not, nor do I desire, enough authority to be believed. I feel too badly taught to teach others.
From Screech’s superior translation. The maddening fact of becoming a creative writing teacher after getting a creative writing degree is that too few of us in graduate CW programs are taught how to teach—creative writing in specific or even just students in general. You have to do a lot of extracurricular work amid your harrowing first job, lest you end up treading the same water you saw your otherwise occupied professors tread.
Also this: I never learned in grad school how to do the work of writing things and more importantly how to enjoy it. How to enjoy the perseverance needed. So again: how do you learn to teach what you yourself weren’t taught? Montaigne: I’m an honest, open model, not a teacher.