As I challenged the south Georgia heat and humidity this early pre-dawn morning, I was thinking about a chit-chat I had had with some colleagues last Thursday.
It was the beginning of the summer quarter–first week of the quarter–and already they were starting to draw placards warning that the end of the academic world was at hand. “The students are always late to class,” one complained. “They’re not even smart enough to find the classroom,” another demeaningly chuckled. “They’d rather be at the beach or laying out on the front lawn than be in class,” a third sighed.
On and on it went as my colleagues started looking around for some sackcloth to wear and ashes to cast over their heads: “they don’t do the assignments;” “they’re already coming up with excuses why they weren’t in class;” “their job is more important to them than class;” “they’d rather party than study;” “they really don’t care if they learn or not as long as they get a good grade;” “they’re coming up with all sorts of excuses for not doing what they’re supposed to or why they weren’t in class;” “they don’t care;” “they don’t pay attention to the lecturs;” “they’re letting in anyone who can write a check for tuition.”
With each moanful observation heads shook in doleful mutual support, shoulders drooped in resigned unison, smiles disappeared on cue, chords of sighs rang out in loud chorus. Their bodies moved and danced a mournful choreography of wishing that they were somewhere else doing something else that was meaningful and purposeful.
In the midst of this lamenting, one of my colleagues turned and asked me, “Louis, you haven’t said a word and you keep smiling. Don’t you ever get angry with your students or frustrated with them?”
I calmly replied, “Only when I let myself forget what it’s like to be a student.”
Make it a good day.