January 10, 2012

What it Means to be Them

photo courtesy of blackstarproject.org
After all of the chaotic, sweaty, frenzied energy that goes into making it all happen - registration, keeping enrollment numbers up, student retention, increased graduation rates, and the adjunct-instructor- recruitment-hell, the smoke clears, and I remember why I do this.

After the first day's proselytizing, introductions, and syllabi, I remember what it means to be them - a young, vibrant, raging combination of angst, fear, hope, and possibility.  Sometimes I forget, even while I am harping on about accountability and the "Attendance Policy" on page 3, what it means to be them.

I forget what it means to have your whole life ahead of you and not know it, what it means to look forward to working an unpaid internship, what it means to be poor but not impoverished, what it means when homework is your biggest responsibility, what it means to have college loan debt in the single digits or not to have any college loan debt at all.

It's a strangely symbiotic relationship - the one between teacher and student.  They promise to read and write and think and discuss.  And I promise to give them my all each term and to do it all over again the next.  And in the end, this relationship changes us all (irrevocably) for the better.  Because, ultimately, I am them and they are me.