I don’t understand my students

Really. I have no concept of what my students’ lives are like, and this is something I have to constantly remind myself. I cannot make assumptions about their situations based on my own experience.

I heard from a student today who missed a couple classes and an assignment. The details don’t matter – colossal amount of bad luck. But one thing struck me. The student moved to a town three hours drive away. I was dumbstruck. What kind of situation makes a 3 hour commute to classes seem like a good idea?!!

Terry McGlynn writes alot about the experiences of undergraduates at his institution over at smallpondscience.com. His observations and insights are eye-opening for me. Basically, I’m weird. My experience of life is completely irrelevant to understanding my students. And yet, I’m supposed to mentor them to successful careers? I’m whoppingly unqualified.

Andrew Tyre
Professor of Wildlife Ecology
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