Carol Krinsky | The Performance of Teaching

Document created by Sara Jo Lee on Mar 18, 2020
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Carol Krinsky shares what drives her to achieve more.
My Journey to #AchieveMore
Pursuing higher education, then teaching seriously and writing result from inner compulsions and parental example. I'm the only child of teachers, one who immigrated at age 3 around 1905, the other born to recent immigrants. Cultural assimilation and education carried poor children upward and my parents expected further upward motion from me. Fortunately, I was born with the appropriate instincts and happily complied. School was so much fun---- reading, hearing new ideas, earning praise for doing well---that it seemed natural to keep going through the Ph.D. since I realized that acting would be precarious and perhaps eventually boring. But teaching is a kind of theater, too. As my parents loved their work and were loved by their students, I realized that I could continue having my kind of intellectual fun while passing enthusiasm for learning to students. And since, in academia, publishing is the currency of value, and I have plenty to say about various topics, it seemed natural--and required for tenure--to say it in print. I was given positions in academic organizations because people saw that I was reliable. I don't care much about fame although I appreciate respect, and my husband's income suffices for our needs, so I rarely apply for fellowships. I don't need a lot of outside recognition although this competition tempted me on a Saturday morning when I can dawdle before producing a power point. If at my well-past-retirement age I'm teaching full time and working on a new book, it's because of inner compulsions, probably the same kinds that drove my parents to emerge from old-world practices and to excel in educating themselves and others. I keep teaching because I want others to love learning, too, and to realize the related satisfactions. I keep teaching because I know lots of things that they would love to know if they knew those topics existed. I keep teaching because I know many things about Life and Love that they appreciate hearing. Undergraduates, still susceptible of being inspired, are the ones I prefer to teach. People are made of different materials, and while people who have my compulsions seem to be good at achieving more, we cannot criticize those whose inner selves are constructed differently. Unless achievement is an expedient way to shed a family's oppression or flee from dire poverty, I bet achieving and trying to achieve are built into some people's nervous systems. A desire to achieve is something that can perhaps be cultivated, but I think it is innate. It's not always virtuous as can be seen from observing certain plutocrats, but I hope that my teaching has been. It's what I mean by achievement.

What Drives You to #AchieveMore?