3 responses to “The Patience to Teach”

  1. Dick Cummins class of '70

    Ross – At Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa (a jock farm for the Big Ten and my first teaching job in 1971) I got an essay back from a 225-pound fullback with this line:

    “…and I gone to cross the gold line every game…”

    Your piece brings back many memories of teaching writing there as well as starting a reading lab — finding out everything I could about teaching reading to adults, some with NFL potential and a bad attitude about books. An interesting story about outcomes too.

    Anyway, if I would have assigned a group essay to discuss ‘Existentialism’ there I would have been beaten into an instructor tortilla after class. Actually not — as I was a receiver coach too and that gave me the incredible power of expulsion from the team and school if anyone crossed me. Thus I could force students, visualize them — 6′ 4″, weighing 260+ pounds and who could run a 100 in 10 seconds flat with a footlocker on their backs — to write about any damn subject I felt would profit them in later life!

    Of course then I had to read them — with the ‘infinite patience’ you mention!

  2. Darlene

    You are much kinder and accepting than I would ever be Ross! Or at least, how I’d be in principle.

  3. Ross Howell

    Dick and Darlene, thanks for reading! One day I asked if students knew what an epistolary novel was. They did. I explained how my high school sweetheart and I exchanged letters daily my first year at college. “So how do you guys communicate?” I said. “By e-mail?” “I’ve never e-mailed my boyfriend in my life!” one young woman responded. She was obviously offended. “Then, how do you get in touch?” I said. “We text, of course.” After class, a student took me aside. “E-mail,” she confided, “is kind of like for old people.”

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