I’m in the process of applying for a teaching gig at Metro State, a public college located in downtown Denver. I do hope this part time instruction job will bear fruit. I need the money…. and experience if I’m going to be a kick ass professor someday. To be honest, I don’t really see myself as one “kick ass prof.” I will most definitely NOT teach in the graduate level, though you don’t say never in situations like these. But for now, it is safe to assume that my “calling” is not graduate school instruction. While they are more self-motivated than undergrads, I do think grad students (I’m sure myself included) are full of themselves. I don’t think I can do that. Besides, the real change happens during the undergraduate level, not graduate.
All being said, I do feel that my calling is to teach undergraduates in history/religion/theology/theory. As a person of color (henceforth POC), I am sensitive to the way education is being taught to us. Indeed, the dominant curriculum is hopelessly Euro-centric. A typical history course usually starts with the ancient civilization, stopping only with a snippet on the Indic and Chinese civilizations. After that its Greece and Rome. The natural progression then shifts to the Middle Ages (Western Europe that is), followed by the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Age of Empires/Colonialism, WW I, WW II and then the modern world. This is what a typical survey class in history is. Though some curriculums are attempting to go beyond “Western Civ” histories and rename it as World History, the base structure of the course remains the same, with little “sprinklings” of events and things going on outside the Western world. Hence, such courses are more accurately described as “Western Civ Plus” rather than World History.
Back to the application process. The whole process itself is an experience. Writing a cover letter for the application, in my opinion, is the trickiest part of them all. What does one put down? What sort of information is deemed relevant, or helpful to the overall success of you application? Do the people who read it think that its all bullshit… all fluff and no substance? Because I tend to be everywhere in my area of research/interest, it is hard to peg me down. I’m not exactly a full fledged theologian, historian, cultural critic or a religionists. I am competent in the fields, but I am by no means an expert. I often wonder as well, if I DO get the job, how would I act? Will I be the hippie teacher? A straight-laced prof? A cool prof? Will I be a hard-ass?
Regardless of the “everywhere” nature of my academic studies and interests, I am “marketing” myself as an interdisciplinarian who not only deals with history, but religion theology and other stuff as well. So, should Metro State hires me, they not only get a historian, but more than a historian. Of course, as a POC I hope to give them a “special” insight that comes from my experience as someone who studied different courses that dealt more with the non-Western world, or at least bringing in non-Western perspectives to a Western setting. We shall see.