• Louise Nayer
  • Creating A Room of One's Own and Teaching at a Community College
Creating A Room of One's Own and Teaching at a Community College
Contributor
Written by
Louise Nayer
March 2010
Contributor
Written by
Louise Nayer
March 2010
Creating A Room of One’s Own— I’ve been teaching Woolf’s famous work over the last month. I teach at an enormous urban community college—I’m trying to relate the book to my mostly working-class non-white(first generation college students). All but one has heard of Jane Austen or Oxford College. Most don’t have the luxury of a separate room to dream in and no one has a stipend that rains down like mana from heaven. They have trouble with the language(I also have a lot of international students). Most try and take a full-time load at school and work often thirty hours a week at fast-food places, Safeway grocery stores and other places around San Francisco. But right now I’m with my students in a computer lab. My friend, James, a librarian is helping them find sources for their paper on women and work(flex time, sexual harassment, etc). He has a master computer and changes all their screens, so I don’t need to monitor as well. I have been a grading machine for the past week as papers have flooded in. I’m craving some writing time. So I take it. Right here in the lab with all my students. None of my students has privy to the fact that I am “blogging” now, creating a private space amidst a room where 27 students learn about data bases and MLA citations. Perhaps this is what I can teach them—to take the time when you can to do what you love. I am fortunate now—since my children have grown--to have a room in my house where I can close the door and write. When my children were very young, Monday nights were “Mom’s writing night?" I wrote in my bedroom. I took no phone calls—My husband walked them to the nearest video store where they got a movie(a clever distraction from wanting to knock on my door) and slowly, my Monday night writing night took hold—allowed me that private space—I often went to sleep for an hr. before I woke up to the “creative zone.” I began my memoir there that is finally being published this April. I wrote poems. Sometimes I cried when I wrote—and then emerged to say goodnight to the children—and then back to my writing. So I ask my students how many of them feel they don’t have enough time to dream. All hands shoot up. I tell them that even though most don’t have a private room—or a stipend, that they can take time to do what they love, sometimes at the most unusual times—like I did today in the computer lab at City College of San Francisco in the middle of 27 computers.

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