There is sometimes cynicism in the conversations I have in hallways or in notes that pop-up on my Facebook feed when it comes to students. They’re characterized as lazy, lacking time management skills, or generally unprofessional.
So many people–I’ve certainly been guilty of it–sometimes take verbal potshots around the water cooler at our seemingly unambitious and entitled students. And perhaps a few of them do deserve it.
But then I looked back to my own education and my own maturity (or lack of), which helps me shed my hang-ups and remember my motivations for teaching:
I see people who might not always know what they’re doing here and need a push to help them figure it out.
I see people who are concerned about the future, cynical about the education they’re receiving, and stressed about the demands on their time.
I see people who mean well but sometimes end up playing a game to cope, whether it’s being hyper-aggressive in a classroom or convincing themselves that they don’t care and that none of this really matters.
I see people who have varying levels of success with managing this college experience–some whose failures are quite obvious in their work or whose mediocrity fly under the radar. Those who meet or exceed standards become our shining stars for whom we then tend to leave our most meaningful feedback. For all others, scathing criticisms. In short, a cycle of inequity.
And as instructors, these are all things that are either challenged or reinforced by what we do. Not everyone goes to graduate school to teach (I mean really teach), but I do know that how we do it has the power to change lives–so as long as I’m doing so, this is what I will see.