Friday, November 4, 2011

November Grace, Day 2

Carroll Science Building, Baylor University
"Miss Bear," she said breathlessly, "have you ever read a book called Mere Christianity?" Those who know me well will understand why this question nearly made me laugh. My parents starting reading The Chronicles of Narnia to me when I was three years old; by the time I finished high school I had worked through almost all of C.S. Lewis's fiction and non-fiction; and even my dissertation is on a man whose writing helped shape Lewis's turn to faith. However, not wanting to interrupt my student's enthusiasm, I simply smiled and said "Yes. Why do you ask?"  My eager freshman began to explain how our class discussion--an analysis of what makes an argument ethical or unethical--had reminded her of a passage from Lewis's book, and her eyes were shining with the delight of making an unexpected connection.

Today I am grateful for my students.  In more ways than they realize, my students have shown me that teaching is my greatest joy and privilege. When I taught my first course four years ago, I was terrified that I was too young and inexperienced to teach a college writing class. My students, however, were unfailingly respectful.  Even though I wanted to giggle whenever they would say, "Yes, ma'am," the fact that they saw me as a capable, competent teacher shaped the way I saw myself. In the semesters since, they have continued to honor me with their honesty, courtesy, creativity, and diligence. College is such a fascinating and urgent time, and I love watching young men and women grapple with questions that may shape their entire adult lives. I live for the days they follow me out of class to discuss our reading or to ask me a question about a book. I treasure their peculiar spirit of levity and earnestnes.

I wish I could say that every class ends with a student chasing after me with questions about C.S. Lewis, but even on the days when all our talk is of thesis statements and paragraph unity, I am profoundly, joyfully, humbly grateful for my students.

1 comment: