I have one student in my class who comes to talk to me after each seminar. Literally, after each class. And what does he say?
During the semester, we are discussing different literary texts, dealing with quite difficult topics: the Holocaust, racism, discrimination, AIDS, homosexuality, religion, segregation, colonialism, imperialism … the list goes on. We analyze poems, plays, novels, graphic novels, and short stories.
And this student has something to say about each text, every character, every single topic. He comes to me at the end of the class (when everyone else is leaving for the next class) and starts the discussion without any prelude or ending. He would just say: “I find this character so obnoxious that it is hard to believe his way of thinking about gay people in the 1980s.” He would not ask my opinion or explain why he wants to talk about it. He would just come and blurt out everything on his mind. And then, when I get into this conversation and start analyzing with him, he would just silently agree with me with a nod and leave, almost in the middle of our talk. No byes. No closure. Just like that.
First, I found it a bit unusual. Maybe I said something wrong and he left, disagreeing. Maybe I did not answer his question. But gradually I realized it was supposed to be like that. This is his way of conversing with people.
After all, not all conversations should follow the standard formality: greeting, question, elaboration, and closing remark. Maybe some people think and speak in a different way. Maybe this is how natural and spontaneous thoughts should be expressed: without any warning or structure. It is like stream-of-consciousness, but out loud. Maybe this is the whole beauty of the conversation: you never know where it is going to start or how it will end. There is no polite small talk. No cliched phrases. Just thoughts and feelings, unstructured.
Now after each class I am eagerly anticipating this student. I never know what he is going to say or what is on his mind this day. I love how a book or class makes him feel: this need to continue talking about the topic when the class is over. This unrestrained desire to express himself.
It is just one student. But so many thoughts.
2 thoughts on “one student, many thoughts”
Oh man, I was THAT student with one of my high school Language Arts teachers. Ironically I took her Speech & Forensics class before anything else. Many days each week, I’d eat lunch in her room with her and we’d discuss everything. After graduating, we became “official friends” and she is to this day, my very best friend. I say be the friend he needs within an educator-student medium. Ethics first, of course. But after he graduates, nothing says this student couldn’t very well be one of your soul brothers that you chose before this lifetime to share the journey with later down the road. Be well, Nat! Much love and warmth to you.
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Thank you!!! Thank you for sharing your story as well:) appreciate it