Kurt Vonnegut And The Genuine Educator

I’ve read everything that Kurt Vonnegut has written (except for his most recent book published posthumously called Letters, which is on my reading list after Glass Castle).  I thought I had run my eyes across every line he’s authored until I was directed, via Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings, to Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note where I found a priceless letter he wrote to his family as a deployed soldier during WWII.

Those familiar with Vonnegut’s crude and cynical style assume that his pessimistic, and often hilarious, tone is used exclusively for his novels.  His unique style is his identity as an author.  In other words, the phrases and sentence structure used in his books were purposefully adopted for dramatic effect.  He surely can’t view the world through his literary lens.

Letters are a seldom and brief glance into the personas of authors.  They write, which is what they do, but they write for a different reason when penning a note.  Writing is their profession, while writing a letter is different and therefore should lack artistic style.  While reading a letter from a favorite author, we should be struck with a feeling of lacking and disappointment due to the bland and desolate prose.

At least, that’s what I thought. 

I was wrong, as evidenced from Vonnegut’s letter found on Letters of Note.

The letter, which describes his capture and time as POW during the bombing of Dresden, is typical Vonnegut.  His ironic, contemptuous, and mocking style are ever present.

It is a pleasure to read and exemplifies an important component of what makes successful people successful: who they are as a professional is who they are as a person.

Vonnegut is remarkably genuine and consistent.

Vonnegut is the same person you’ll find in Bluebeard as in the letter. 

You are probably thinking: “But what does this have to do with teaching!?!?”

When contemplating the difference between expert and novice teachers, it is easy to point out discrepancies in management, reflection, planning, and parent communication.  But zoom out a bit and we find one important similarity found in ALL expert educators:  who they are as a person is who they are as an educator.

They are genuine.

Just as we appreciate genuine people and love their products- the writings of Kurt Vonnegut in any form- students appreciate genuine educators.

As you begin your school year and find yourself hesitant, reflect and realize you are an amazing educator because you are an amazing person. 

As a person, you are empathetic, caring, helpful, and smart.  As an educator, you are all of those things and more!  Educating is who you are, whether in front of a class or not.

Embrace it and let that guide you:)

How does your your “real” self bleed through your work-life barrier?  Connect with The Pragmatic TV Teacher and share.

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit : Deviant Art

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