On Giants' Shoulders

Friday, August 18, 2006

One down several to go...

Well I finished Northanger Abbey and read some of the accompanying criticism in the Norton critical edition. I need to spend a bit more time with the criticism, but the next order of business is to read Evelina, by Fanny Burney. It's to be the first book on the list for the girls, so I must get cracking here. According to the Austen criticism, the Austen family knew much of Evelina by heart, so it has to be considered as an influence on Austen. In Northanger Abbey she gives Anne Radcliffe's The Mystery of Udolpho more attention. I managed to find that on line (it's definitely not in bookstores around here!) so I will be able to give the girls some taste of that as well.

I was pondering about all the lit class stuff yesterday and realized that I prepare as thoroughly for 3 girls as I ever did for a class of over 20. In fact, since I only have one prep instead of five, I probably prepare more thoroughly. I probably prepare nearly as thoroughly as I would for a college class. It is an exercise in self-indulgence to an extent because I get to spend time reading stuff I like to read, while being able to excuse it because of the class. I certainly don't get paid anything like a minimum wage for the time I put in. I never have, because frankly it's a labor of love, not a for profit occupation. I make back enough each year to cover the cost of books and gasoline to drive to Burlington to do my research, and parking fees while I'm at the university, and no more. As long as I'm not going in the hole, I figure it's worth it. I can't say that I don't wish I could find a way to make it pay enough to bring in a bit of extra money, but there simply isn't a big enough population out there for it to do that. When I had three tutoring sessions I was actually making a little money, but with only one, I just break even. Of course since I don't actually make any money it doesn't effect our taxes, it all comes out in expenses.

What I do gain in all of this is a wonderful relationship with some teenagers and the sense that I am making a difference in their lives. Because of the nature of the class, discipline issues are non-existant. We get to sit around and talk about books, I assign the occasional piece of written work and critique it after it's completed. We go off on tangents that largely concern our common Catholic faith. The girls tell me they've learned more from me than from all their years in CCD. It's sort of like being a grandmother, I get all the fun of being with them, discussing things with them, enjoying their company without being the one to tell them to clean their rooms, do the dishes, not argue with their siblings, or do their homework. I have them for a limited period of time and then I get to send them back to their parents. It's far better than a classroom where I have to monitor uniforms, gum chewing, note passing, and general disruption. Homeschooling other people's kids is actually even more fun than homeschooling your own, at least when the kids you're teaching are as nice as the ones I've had in recent years.

Now if I could keep doing this while still finding another way to generate a little income...

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