Thursday, May 21, 2015

The yellow brick road leads to ... my class?

I bet that sometimes you--the reader--wonder if I am merely spinning yarns about the good things from students and the godawful things from faculty.

Don't. Ever. Wonder.
It is all real.
As real as the Piggly Wiggly! ;)

The latest exhbit: an email from a student who is going to take my class next fall.
(A note to the non-US readers: in the undergraduate program, as we reach the end of an academic term, students register for classes for the term that follows.)  In that email, the student writes:
I look forward to being in your class, you come highly recommended and I cannot wait to see what the hype is all about.
Can't beat such words, right?  

I don't want to over-analyze, but then to analyze is my job.  Well, analyzing is all I do.  I remember my daughter telling me once, "why do you have to analyze the movie, and not just watch it!"  Notice that I didn't add a question mark at the end of that sentence, but included an exclamation point--I was smart enough to know that it was not an invitation for a conversation but a suggestion that I should shut up ;)  

I liked the way this student has crafted "I cannot wait to see what the hype is all about."  Why? Whether intentionally or not, she has inserted "what the hype is all about."  What if I am all hype and no substance?

But then, most things in life we go through without verifying for ourselves whether or not something was worth our time, energy, and expense.  The other day I spent ten dollars on a movie.  For a fraction of a second, I hesitated buying that ticket.  The worry was that the movie would not be worth the ten dollars and the hype--in this case all the glorious reviews that I had read.  But, I did spend it.  And, I am happy to report to you that the movie was worth every nickel--and more.  

That email from the student itself was a follow-up email.  Her initial inquiry was an awesome piece of communication by itself.  If only even faculty communicated the way that student did!  Unfortunately, when I read something from most faculty colleagues,or after listening to their five minute spiels at meetings, I am left with only one question in my mind: "so, what was your point?"

Life is all about sorting through the hype and the bullshit.  The hype about the parents, about the family stories, about the teachers, about the politicians, about the ancestors, about every damn thing.  Education makes inquiring skeptics out of us.  Some of us become irreverent to the core.  It is so much easier to be blissfully ignorant and to unquestioningly accept the hype.  

Now, I can only hope that she doesn't change her mind and decide against taking my class, even if it means that Dorothy will find out that I am nothing but a man behind the curtain.

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