Teachers who make a difference

Fair warning: this post could also be titled "One More Reason I Should Get Out of Here" or, after reading my last post, "Nothing Goes Up That Does Not Come Down".

So yesterday, I was out hobnobbing with other faculty around a field throwing things to each other. And during a break, we did what faculty often do: we began to talk about students in classes, comparing notes, horror stories, and the all-too-rare success story. Somebody was telling us about a student who from day one of his very difficult class - and I say this with a twinge of envy: I want my class to be as difficult as his is reputed to be - just got it. The student could offer a good definition off the top of her head, could argue a point, and most importantly, felt not one iota of shame for being smart and liking it.

Incidentally, feminist friends, this is the next mission. Body image aside, let's start to deal with the fear of being seen as smart.

It was at this point that another faculty member chimed in.

"You've got to shut that down," he laughed. And we weren't - or at least I wasn't - quite sure what he meant.

"You've got to shut that down," he repeated. "I had a student once who had their hand up at every question. They answered them all, 10 for 10, perfectly correct. So I said to him 'Man, you've got to get a social life.'"

Awkward laughter and a bit of stunned silence.

"He got up and left the class, and never came back. Never saw him again." And he was beaming proudly. Proudly! He thought he'd done a good thing. Why is it that if a dog craps on my carpet, I can smack it, but when a colleague does it, we're forced to be polite? I can only hope he recognized the sarcasm and bitterness in my voice when I said "Yes, teachers who make a difference" and walked away to get some water.

Argh.

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amelie said...

I'm surprised no one in your group said a word. What's everyone afraid of? I once openly disagreed with a colleague's hiring practices - she changed the subject, but I made my point.

September 2, 2007 at 10:38 PM