Geeking Out

Lest my last post make me sound like a materialistic airhead…

I am geeking out helping my husband with his Fulbright project. Terence is interviewing middle and high school teachers from all kinds of schools (secular, pluralistic, national religious, ultra-Orthodox, Arab Christian, Palestinian, etc.). He is asking them how they teach about civics and religion, including religions other than their own.

I am helping Terence transcribe some of these interviews, and I can’t tell you how interesting this is. I literally can’t tell you any of the details for privacy reasons. Suffice to say that listening to teachers in this region talk about pedagogical and curricular decisions, priorities and constraints is fascinating. Complicated and fascinating. And it’s affirming to hear teachers from so many backgrounds discussing their journeys into the classroom and their connections with their students. Whatever the differences Terence is discovering, teachers also seem to share a passion, commitment, love of kids. Listening to all this is making me miss teaching. Maybe I should go back to the classroom?

Unless I become a researcher or freelance transcriber. Because the other thing I’m loving is turning audio files into text. It’s like being an English scholar again, close reading a text, only in reverse…close-listening and then re-creating. What punctuation mark is implied by that sound? What is the meaning of that pause? Where should I put a paragraph break? What the heck is that word? Most of Terence’s subjects are speaking in their second (or third, or more) language, adding to the complexity and challenge of my task.

As a feminist and a professional, historically I haven’t been too enthused with the whole helping-my-husband-with-his-work thing. But I can’t help it this year. It’s just so engaging! And as I told Terence, if we ever need some fast money for a kid’s braces or something, I can always do transcribing on the side.

About hilarymead

Taking two young kids, a great husband, and a whole lot of questions to Jerusalem for a year's sabbatical.
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3 Responses to Geeking Out

  1. Margaret says:

    Is it wrong that I read your first sentence and immediately wanted to jump down to see what you had written that made you sound like a materialistic airhead?

    Kidding aside, I am psyched you have a brainy project underway. I did a little transcribing in grad school and had similar fascinations. It made me realize how inferior the written word can be in capturing the true sense of what someone has said. (I was not aloud to add any adjectives or stage directions.) It also made me aware, again, of how carefully we all must choose our words if, in print, they cannot be embellished in any way.

    And, as I’m sure you know, I could write a novel (and I should) about how my feminist self justifies the amount of time and energy I spend assisting my husband with his career.

    I love reading everything you have to say, Hil. When we are again in the same country, we must find a time to get our gangs together.

  2. Margaret says:

    aloud = allowed (oops)

  3. launa says:

    Super fun! I bet it’s great to geek out.

    Although the post below really made me want to get you a coffeemaker, somehow. You’re right to take care of your small pile of on-demand resources… and the unaccustomed feeling of enjoying the freedom from too much and the freedom to do different things this year! I keep thinking of this David Brooks piece and the idea of the “Hamish Line” when I think about your year of living without and enjoying everything within!

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