It has been a good long time since I have shared the joys of teaching with my faithful blog readers. Since I gave a final last night and another this morning and I won't see the eyes of another college Algebra student for at least two weeks, I feel that I am in an appropriate state of mind to conquer this very task.
Last night, after completing his final, one of my students was joyfully exclaiming that he had miraculously passed the class. Since we were practically alone in the classroom, I commented that had he attended class a little more often, it may not have been such a miraculous feat. He then proceeded to tell me about his life that quarter. Now, being a Math teacher, I would not think that, by nature, I would inspire people to share their deepest life issues with me. But apparently, there is something in my demeanor that screams "tell me all of your problems." Yeah, I've got to work on that.
So, his girlfriend had broken up with him. His car broke down for a few days mid-quarter. At the first of the quarter, he didn't have enough gas in his car to make it to class one night. I've heard it all before. Life can be very traumatic when you are 23. If I seem cynical, it may be because I am. I looked at him straight in the eyes and told him that not one of us had a life free of disruptions and problems and that sometimes you just needed to keep going and figure out how to still keep the important parts of your life running while you sort out the crap on the sidelines.
He sort of shrugged his shoulders and went off to celebrate his D in the class, but I really wished he would have taken a second and listened to what I was trying to tell him since I believe it was much more important than the unit on matrices or maybe even the trigonometry unit. Okay, not the trigonometry unit, but still, many of my younger students believe that in order to have a successful life, you must have a life free of "bad things happening to you". And, when bad things do happen, you are then given a free ticket to fail in whatever way is most convenient at the time, you know, as a recompense.
I don't know how to help these students. In fact, I don't know a lot of things. Maybe, I should just stick to Math.