When I look at my students (BTW, I’m teaching at St Edwards University again this semester), I experience a string of emotions that do not have names, only longish descriptions. Examples:

  • I know you think I’m just a middle-aged frump-meister but I really, really love being here with you.
  • The world needs you to succeed in my class. There’s so much more at stake here than your grade.
  • Truth is, I don’t understand you. My state-of-mind when I was in college was very different from yours. Things are completely different now and therefore one of the comfy assumptions I would like to fall back on, namely the old “I’ve been where you are so lemme tell ya…” does not apply. I have never been where you are. How different were things?
    • The drinking age was 18. Marijuana was a forbidden narcotic substance, that could land you in jail, obtainable only from criminals in back alleys, not the respectable alternative to alcohol that it is today. So college freshmen were drinking (legally). A lot.
    • There was no internet and no cell phones. There were barely even computers.
    • It was pre- 9/11, pre-COVID and pre-Trump. Pre-daily mass shootings, pre-Rise of Christian Nationalism, pre-awareness of climate change, pre-Nirvana/HipHop/Björk.
    • We DID go on to have a better standard of living than our parents
  • Did I mention I love being here with you?

The stereotype of college profs is that they are jaded, overworked, living in fear of accidentally “triggering” someone and ending their career. But I love being around college students and being able to talk to them—in the context of class—without being considered a perv or freak or underwear skidmark who doesn’t deserve the time of day.

Teaching this class for me is enlivening and the highlight of my day. I only wish they will feel the same way.