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Feb 21 2011

I’m So Proud Of My Students!

We get them for a class or two
And then we let them go
We hope we’ve changed the way they think
As much as what they know
Too often, though they’re doing well
We cannot watch them grow
Though sometimes (but too rarely),
They’ll stop by to say hello
When friends ask, all too often,
Why I do the work I do,
I’m forced again to notice
That it doesn’t pay—it’s true,
But pity those who never hear
At all, their whole lives through:
“My world has changed forever,
And it’s all because of you”
Meh–what a saccharine little verse.  If I were not in such a good mood, it would never see the light of day.  But today, in two separate and independent incidents, former students (from just last semester, in this case) sought me out to tell me how my class had pretty much ruined them (in a good way!) for a class or two they were in this semester.   Basically, there were topics they were being presented with which… are not supported by either research or logic.  Their classmates, for the most part, don’t know this, or if they do, they are keeping quiet.  My former students, though… I’ll probably hear some complaints from these profs.
I’m used to it by now.  I love it.
I’m not going to mention what the topics are, or what the differences in claims are;  clearly, this blog is not the place to publicly identify someone, even by accident.  You can take my word for it that I am right, or you may feel free to doubt.  Doesn’t bother me a bit. 
I’m just (uncharacteristically, I know!) crowing a bit.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    Howard

    The email I sent Dr. Mumford:"Earlier this evening, I was reading a blog post by an academic who waxed poetic about how nice it is to hear from students who "get it."Anyway, reading this I was struck by memories of the African-American Music History course I took with you as a B.M. Jazz major back in — what? 1983? 1984? It seems so long ago.I got an A in the course on the merits, but at the close of the class you asked all of us to write a short essay on what we learned from the course, which wouldn't be graded. You asked me to come see you when you read my essay, and I panicked. I'd already earned my grade, and I just wasn't ready for that conversation. So I blew it off and ran away. Because I was, and still am, a weak man.As I recall through the haze of passing years, I had written some (g)libertarian bullshit about racism and culture that I'd like take to this belated opportunity to disavow completely. The stupid essay I'd written, and your reaction to it, and my reaction to your reaction, is something that ate at me for years. It was probably five or six years after I graduated that the word "privilege" started to mean something real to me. And then I realized my mistake. And of course, in the intervening 20 years, a whole constellation of life experience has refined that conception.All of this you taught me, when I was not ready to hear it. Sometimes it takes a while after finals week to find out you made a difference. The lessons you taught me make a difference when I get on the bandstand to play music, or when I work with younger musicians in need of guidance. But they also resonate with me when I walk through the neighborhood, when I encounter people outside my usual social circle, and when I enter the voting booth.So, belatedly, thank you for everything you've given me,"Okay?

  2. 2
    Melissa

    Howard, that's wonderful!I still hear from former students every now and then. Those messages always manage to improve my day.

  3. 3
    Markr1957

    Now I feel as though I should have written to my old Mathematics teacher and thanked him for teaching critical thinking (and teaching me to test an answer using as many methods as you know), and for demonstrating that being in a minority of one doesn't mean I'm wrong, and that a majority of 99% doesn't make them right.I went to school in Britain, so we learned to think critically before we were admitted to university ;-)

  4. 4
    Cuttlefish

    Is it too late, Markr?

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