Jim Andersen Memorial Leadership Award Donation Form
I was born in Vancouver, but I’m not revealing when—let’s just say I’m older than most of my students and colleagues. I was educated there, attending the University of British Columbia, where I majored in English. I received my BA in 1970.
I married Kate (or she married me—I forget now exactly who did what to whom, but I distinctly recall something memorable happening) a week or so after our joint graduation. She and I enrolled a few months later in Graduate Studies at the University of Waterloo. I received my MA in English in 1974. (This is my biography so I’m not going to tell you about Kate’s academic accomplishments, but I will report that my thesis was on Shakespeare. Kate claims she wrote it, but I insist she merely typed it. I was so grateful that I decided to spend my remaining years with this useful person.
In 1974, I returned to UBC, entering the PhD program, from which I prematurely but prudently withdrew in the following year. I worked as a furnace-installer (my dad was a heating contractor) for what seemed like an eternity and taught some night school English and ESL courses until I found a full-time teaching position in 1977. Our first daughter, Barbara, was born in 1978, to be promptly and joyfully joined by Catherine in 1980 and our son Geoffrey in 1982.
From my standpoint today, these—my formative years as a teacher - I remember as incredibly eventful and personally rewarding. I became convinced then (and have never since come upon any good reason to change my mind) that a teacher’s job is to keep students alert to the inner voice that tells them they need to be and can be better.
Literature has always seemed to me to be one of the best ways for students to become more self-aware, more reflective, more responsible and more observant. I will steal from Joseph Conrad to stress that a teacher’s job, like a novelist’s, is “above all, to make you see.”
I first taught at UCFV in 1988. My current professional interest is in romantic conceptions of self. I’m especially interested in learning more about how English, American and European writers viewed themselves because I think these writers articulated personal identity issues for us in original, important and enduring ways.
I am an avid but not very accomplished chess player, a good curler (of the ice and not the hair variety) and a superb but unpublished writer. I am a lover of intelligent and loyal dogs—Maltese Terriers—(see photo) and an unrepentant bibliophile.