I am having a back-to-Egypt moment today! My students have their first major paper due tomorrow, a short essay of 4-6 pages. I informed them that I would read drafts, and out of 35 students, only one person sent me a draft. I only hope that they simply don’t need my help.
It’s always hard to know if you’ve made the right decision returning to an old love. You can remember the good aspects of the endeavor, but often the things that made you go crazy seem to hide themselves away, out of your sight, becoming clear only after you have returned, similar to returning to an old lover. The first giddy days seem like the best things since cornbread, but then something is said or done that reminds you why you left in the first place, and then the doubts come.
But, I realize that no matter what you do, whether it is teach college or write a blog, you won’t find that everyone accepts you or what you are peddling. So, this week, I finally decided to concentrate on the students who want to learn what I have to give them. I can’t allow the student with a conservative ideology to bait me, taking everything I say or the examples I use as liberal brainwashing.
I told the class that I don’t bring my politics into my courses, and that it is research I share. If something is my private opinion, I will tell them that upfront. I implored them not to take my words as adversarial and as meaning to question or mock what they believe. Sociology is by its nature a liberal discipline, with its emphasis on making the world better through research and the tendency to desire a more equal distribution of the planet’s resources.
In Georgia, an introductory Sociology class is required of criminal justice majors and nursing majors, which means I have people in the class who would prefer to be anywhere else learning other lessons. But, I am elated to teach them “the other side of the story.” I believe that every college student, regardless of major, should take at least one sociology class, to learn to examine how their decision-making processes are influenced by culture and the ideologies of their society.
So, while I have returned to a difficult task, one that I find lovely and frustrating, I know that there are students who want to know what I am teaching. As far as the ones who are, as the English say, “a piece of work,” I will just hope that I am planting seeds that will provoke them into seeing that there are many sides to the picture.
I won’t win them all, of course, but the ones who will come to think critically about the humanity of the poor and the rich, the downtrodden and the uplifters, the immigrant and the native sons and daughters, mean that I am still needed and my messages are still valid. So, I will concentrate on teaching those that want to learn, but I will continue to teach them all, knowing that today’s resister may be the one who learns the most.