I am fond of them.
I hope that if I have proven anything in the variety of messages I have posted on this site, it is that I am fond of the young people who come to share the term with me and my husky smorgasbord of educational delights.
Yet, I have found in recent years that their priorities have changed. "Yaro," they might say, "I have only now just learned that my family desires to fly me and my elder sister to a vacation spot near a sunny beach. I am unable to spend the next week working on the project. I know you would not wish for me to miss this outing."
Well, that is not true, in fact. On the contrary. I wish my student would have instead told his or her parents that indeed the college was still in session, that in fact what they were paying for was for us to be open, for all of my colleagues to make our way to the large buildings each day, to continue to press forward, to offer up our lesson plans, the projects and essays and assignments designed specifically for these same students who would seem to prefer a sunny clime to a wintry blast of our college's finest instruction.
There is another group of young people who fancy their lives have high dramatic qualities that require a focused attention that sublimates every other non-essential activity, say, a meeting with me and the other students. "Dr. Yaro," they will report - breathlessly, "My cousin Thanatos just telephoned me from Denver. There, it appears, has been a rather heated argument with my Aunt Sophia. A credit card has come up missing, and my poor cousin is afraid that his mother suspects him of using it for a long evening of debauchery and then disabusing himself of the card. My family often turns to me in cases like this. I would hate for the dispute to escalate, and therefore, after my shift at the Carl's Jr. this afternoon, I am going to endeavour to catch a ride with my friend Cieros, who has a car and the newest Arcade Fire compact disc. I knew you would not want me to come to class when I am as jangly and distracted with my family emergency."
Well, of course, that is all wrong as well, as is the notion that many of my students like to assume things about what I would or would not prefer regarding attending my class, how one might turn in a project, and so on. One young lady told me last week, "Professor Yaro, the road of egress near my apartment complex was flecked and shiny with a coating of ice and snowpack. I knew that you would not want me to take any unnecessary risks in attempting to drive to campus. Therefore, I would like to now take the quiz that you offered that day at my leisure. I believe there is plenty of space at the coffee bar across campus where I might complete the task."
Well, no, that's again not something I would have signed off on.
And then there is another class of student who seems especially prone to injury and/or disease. I have not spent much time in our college's dormitories, but I imagine they must be quite unclean and dangerous places, for my students are forever contracting bacterial and viral delights of a wicked variety, or crashing headlong down unlit stairwells, or causing rapidly combusting blazes while attempting to cook on improvised heating plates and irregular and large toaster ovens.
"Dr. Yaro," one might say, "I have stephococylis, and require that any and all notes that you might be distributing in class come to my campus email instead. I would love to come to class, but the ointment and medications I have make me feel as though there is a film over my eyes, and my feet feel as though connected to someone else's legs. I contracted this virus while sliding barefoot down a plastic ramp my roommates and I fashioned out of the lid of a broken trash dumpster."
"Yaro," I might hear over my office telephone. "It is I, Nikolos. In the early morning hours, I unfortunately jammed my thumb while attempting to jump through a half-ope window at the Gamma Phi house. My roommate helped me clean the glass from the wound, and I have since attached a large gauze pad to the affected area. Yet, the discomfort continues to this moment, and once I am done typing up my History paper for Dr. Mikopulus, I believe I will give myself a well deserved break from my college activities. I know that you would not want me to sit and squirm in class, what with the painful injury."
And they are all wrong. Each of them has assumed that I, Yaro, too, place their college progress rather lowly on a slippery scale of the college student's list of priorities.
In truth, I believe that my class - and the classes of my colleagues - should be the priority.
I pray that you will not judge me too harshly for this admission, as antiquated might be its notion in the modern academy.
I am yours,