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 so high school seniors were buying beer legally. 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.
- 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.