North Central College in the News
North Central College professor of English penned op-ed in Times Higher Education
Jul 25, 2022
Zachary Michael Jack unveiled how summer life for a teacher can boon for creativity in the classroom
Zachary Michael Jack, professor of English at North Central College, penned an op-ed in Times Higher Education. The column, published July 1, 2022, focused on the concept of what makes a teacher ‘interesting’ and how their personal interests outside of the classroom have a proportional impact on what happens inside the classroom.
Here is an excerpt from his op-ed:
For me, the most interesting teachers are the ones who get up to something dynamically different once the school year ends, defying all the navel-gazing stereotypes. For most of my life, what teachers did with their summers mystified me, much as it does the still-sceptical public. I imagined them falling asleep in backyard hammocks, a cheap paperback folded across their stomach, snoozing away the poppied days dreaming of autumn’s lesson plans.
My father, a farmer, always said: “Zachary, you’ll never be truly happy unless you stick your hands in the dirt.” Of course, he was right, though at the time I suspected his observation was intended as a not-so-veiled dig at the kind of clean-handed scholar he feared I might become.
And yet it took a year of profound angst as a first-year professor teaching at a small liberal arts college before I could attribute my creeping sense of depression and displacement to the lack of dirt in my life. Thankfully, a good friend came to town for Sunday brunch one late spring morning and, after listening to me lament the desk-bound life of colleagues that appeared to be my certain fate, he demanded that I go forth and write my way toward an answer. The result was my first book, Black Earth and Ivory: Essays from Farm and Classroom.