I do love my ministry at the College. But it is a challenge. I am teaching, along with about 100 colleagues, adults who without this education stand no chance at a meaningful career or employment that will be life sustaining. I know that I need to teach them, not only the content, but the skills required to behave in a professional world. And our students know that they need the information, but there is a disconnect between where they are and how to get to where they want to/need to be. That disconnect is often a place that grinds up faculty.
Just this past week I had two different students, at two different times, come into my office and tell me that they were “ready” to attend class. It was the beginning of week three, moving into week four and they had yet to attend class, but were now “ready.” I explained the reality, the impact of not attending class, and invited them to attend a class that would meet ahead of the one they were enrolled in, or to drop the class. They could not understand that missing only four days had put them so far behind, and they have yet to attend class. Another student, in an email to me, asked “why, if I have purchased a two hundred dollar textbook, do I need to attend class?”
And that’s the rub. The education of these students does not begin in the classroom itself, but in the world that each brings to the classroom. But you have to recognize that need for education, before you get distressed and angry with the student, and that is a complicated place to recognize.
Responding with love, before disbelief, becomes the thin place.