Thursday, January 19, 2006

Back in the Saddle

We're almost done with our first week back in the classroom, and I couldn't be more happy with how it's gone, at least as far as the students are concerned. I had visions of breaking down with emotion when walking in and seeing a good crowd in the classroom. I knew that wouldn't happen, but I am generally touched and encouraged by the numbers.

Although many students have expressed anxiety about being back and claim only to be here because they need to graduate, most are very upbeat and taking the hassles and inconveniences in stride. As I watch them, I think, "Do they notice the garbage all around and the continued disrepair on campus?" Of course they do. So I wonder, "Do they not care?" Of course they care. "Then why do they do it?" Well, I think they do it because for all the entitlement of this generation of college students, most of ours realize that we all have a lot to be grateful for. As much as we'd all like a picture-perfect campus amid a glorious setting of oaks and parks, that's not what we're here for. We're here for a place where learning is valued and happens, despite the obstacles in our way.

Now I'm not naive enough to think that all of us have the intrinsic motivation to put all we should into our work because we care that much, but this is a place that is very agreeable. Most students prefer it to where they were, even if those schools had many more trappings than we have. I too would like to have a few more "attractions" on campus, but I appreciate that if you're going to have only one aspect, the academics are the fundamentals, and we still have that in spades.

I'm glad to be back, and I'm glad that our students are generally glad to be back too. Work never felt so good.


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