It’s the gap. I teach from 1 to 3 then 5:30-9:45 on Wednesdays. So, I work in the adjunct faculty room in between classes, lounged on the couch, correcting papers as it so happens today. Last night, I had 8 more to correct for tonight’s class, which is right next door to the faculty room.
Two other young instructors inhabit the room. A knock at the door, and I let in a muscular, sleeveless t-shirted young man, who could be a very young adjunct (they all look young these days) or a student. He drops his backpack next to one of the room inhabitants as he whisks past me without so much as an acknowledgement of my existence. He is intent.
Beginning with a list of his laudatory behavior loudly proclaimed–I completed this chapter, did this review…Will there be a quiz on this today?–he engages his young, dark, curly haired instructor with the milk chocolate skin and thick, black eyebrows. She has a gentle manner.
“Yes, good, good. Very good…”
But then he moves on to the speech he made the other day in class, when he came to class dressed up in formal clothing, something not so easy for an out of state student who pays high fees to attend.
“It’s unfair, you know. You kind of beat me down, took my wind a little, you know. I mean it was a great idea, dressing up, and then, you know, you go make it a requirement that everyone has to dress up. And it’s not fair. You know what I’m saying?”
She’s listening patiently, and so am I, though my thoughts are racing with this kid’s typical college student at this community college by the beach stance: the classroom is a democracy and I get to voice my feelings about what the teacher did, how it’s run. I shake my head motionlessly.
He would do well to sit in on my class where I make it clear that college is not a right but a privilege. Don’t take my class if it doesn’t suit you. It’s not high school. There are other teachers for this intro course.
“I am trying to understand you. What’s not fair?” She replies to Mr. Whiny pants.
“Well, I thought of the idea of dressing up and then you make it a requirement. You know some people can’t afford to dress up for a class, like lower income people. And you made it a requirement. But you know I thought of it, kind of my advantage, you know, and then you made it for everyone to do. You took away my leg up.”
I groan–audibly. I’m not cut out for teaching any more, maybe. I get my carcass up from the couch and leave the room.