What difference do teachers make?
I have always wondered over the years how much I mattered to my students. Certainly students learn a lot in college and leave way ahead of where they arrived. And they learn things while taking your classes. But they would learn many of those things anyway. I recall some of my classes that were taught by uninspired deadwood, or incomprehensible Olympians, where class time was spent wondering why I was there and all the learning happened at my desk. For practical purposes, those classes were taught by the authors of my textbooks.
On the other hand, there are professors who motivate students to learn by inspiring them, or putting challenges in front of them that they would not embrace otherwise. Whatever role I play in the successes of my students, I take pride in their achievements. So I want to give a shout-out to Dave Hicks for getting an op-ed published in the Washington Post; my role was a bit of encouragement and some editorial input.
Dave’s piece was a nice meditation on the generations and how they see the problems of the world.
“While the pragmatism of our elders has largely benefited society as we know it, it seems to operate without the youthful creativity that once inspired it. My generation blames these leaders for today’s problems. We look at poverty, violence, suffering, and see little more than failed systems propagated by conventional leadership. We are wary skeptics and impassioned critics. We are enemies of the same Enemy, working together to imagine alternatives to the way things are.
And while we may be impractical, we are good at dreaming. We see the value in opening our minds to what can look like pipe dreams to others. Sometimes we appear naïve, because we are naïve. But neither school, nor the larger institutional contexts of our lives as we grow up, should be designed to convince us that such naïveté is wholly a bad thing.”
Here is the link to the entire piece:
I also want to give a thumbs-up to Jamee Eslicker who I would describe as “much taller in print than in person.” Appropriately enraged as she uncovers the connections that exist between so-called biblical authority and racism—both present and historical—Jamee has penned a powerful and prophetic piece, with this provocative conclusion:
“I don’t claim to even begin to understand the beautifully confusing mystery that is my faith. However, I think I can say that racism and slavery is not what God saw when He looked out and saw that it was good.”
The full piece can be found on her blog: http://jameediane.wordpress.com/