A conversation with Pamela Mason and Keith Parsons, of Wroxton College
Interview by Dan Landau
Pamela Mason and Keith Parsons have been teaching English literature and theater arts at Wroxton College for a combined total of almost 50 years. Filled with endless enthusiasm for literature and theater, Mason and Parsons have shared their interest with thousands of students during their tenures at Wroxton. Their classes, which feature frequent field trips to various theater productions in London and all over England are quite popular.
FDU: How did you come to be interested in teaching English literature and theater arts?
PM & KP: Enthusiastic teachers (a very long time ago), a love of reading and insatiable passion for more forms of theatre.
FDU: What is it like to teach a whole new class of students each semester?
PM & KP: We share Mrs. Malaprop’s view that “Comparisons are odorous,” but we are fortunate in that we have the freedom to vary the content of courses - necessarily so, in the case of courses which are shaped by opportunities to see plays in performance. That ensures a fresh stimulus and there is never the sense that “here we go again."
FDU: How should students prepare for a class with you?
PM & KP: The best students are awake, punctual and arrive having done the prescribed reading with a painstaking attention to detail.
FDU: What is the one thing that you want each of your students to come away with from your classes?
PM & KP: The realisation that “one thing” is never enough.
FDU: The most difficult and most rewarding parts of your jobs are…
PM & KP: We have a difficulty with the word “difficult.” May we substitute “challenging?” We strive to develop sensitivity, reasoned argument and intelligent discrimination. It’s rewarding when we succeed!
FDU: Your favourite Wroxton memory…
PM & KP: Favourite memories? We prefer to look to the future rather than dwell on the past.
FDU: What is it like to teach for an American university in the heart of England?
PM & KP: We have taught students of all ages from seven to way beyond seventy and what matters far more than their geographical or social background is that they are essentially individuals. It helps if they have lively, inquiring minds.
FDU: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
PM & KP: Well, if we were to tell you (and your readers) it wouldn’t be true, would it?
FDU: Anything else you would like to add?
PM & KP: An eighth day of the week.