Dr. Mindbender on the Crying Burden.
Crying students happen. I take no pleasure in making them cry, and even though I’m a rat bastard by nature, I try to channel my well-stifled inner Buddha and have compassion when dealing with distressed students. Kent’s column about a crying student gives rise to two questions, though: First, why did it take so long for “Jason” to realize he wasn’t going to pass, let alone get a C? Second, why did “Jason” stick around and cry in front of Kent? The first question’s answer probably has something to do with generic student idiocy, so we can let it pass. The second one, though, puzzles me, ‘cuz the one time that I realized I’d utterly fucked myself, I didn’t stick around.
Back in the day, when I was a wee undergrad, I took a speech class. And boy howdy, was it great. I loooooved that shit. Getting up in front of people and pontificating? Hellz, yeah. The catch was, this class met at 9:30 AM, and I wasn’t so good at getting to it on time, partially ‘cuz I’m a night owl by nature and partially ‘cuz I got seriously loaded most every evening, making mornings come right early.
Disaster struck at midterms, when the instructor, Ms. Schickelgruber, scheduled the exam for 8:30 AM, an hour before our regular class meeting. No one, least of all myself, was surprised when I slept through it. But then I slept through the makeup test. And the makeup test for the makeup test. That’s when Ms. Schickelgruber’s patience wore out. She said, “No more makeup tests,” when I cruised in at my usual 9:32 arrival time and begged forgiveness. Stunned, I planted ass among the other students and tried to play it cool, but my brain started to blare, Failure, Will Robinson! Failure!, and sniffling commenced. Seconds before the waterworks opened up for real, I scuttled for the exit, found an empty office, and holed up for a cry. I even called home and blubbered to Dad.
After class ended, I returned to pick up my backpack and talked to Ms. S. about my grade. The news wasn’t good: if I aced the final exam, I would scrape a C, by tenths of a point. This brought me down even further and made me want to cry again, but I just nodded and went on my miserable way back to the dorm, where I snorfled some more.
What I specifically didn’t do was stick around and cry in front of the professor. Even though Ms. Schickelgruber was ssssmokin’ hot and seemed to like me as a person, she wasn’t my mom. Ms. S.’s job was to lead the class, evaluate my work, and dole out a grade at the end. I did appreciate her kindly demeanor when I collected my backpack after class was over -- and in that respect, I’m down with Kent’s compassion kick -- but as far as class went, the lady cracked the whip over my ass; I both deserved it and knew I deserved it, and I didn’t burden her with my tears. Is it too much to expect the same courtesy from my own students?