Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lenten Series #28: Caring for Our Students

This week our students are in the midst of midterms, affectionately known as “Hell Week”. They are very stressed because of papers and exams, and readings that are due in the midst of the papers and exams, and let’s not forget the general issues of life that can be stressful for a teenager/young adult.Their classes can be extremely demanding and on top of that I have heard that many professors don’t stick to the syllabus. You may think that is a good thing because your experience may be like mine where professors didn’t stick to the syllabus but took things away or adjusting dates to accommodate for the stressfulness of life. But not here at Grinnell. Many students talk about how their professors add reading and other assignments that are made to be due on the very next class period. Now, I am not saying it is all the professors but it is clear that some need a wake call and a reminder that they were once students as well. This is indeed a wellness issue and I hope some will stand up and continue being advocates for the overall well being of our students. This is a very touchy subject on this campus because the classroom at Grinnell seems to be “sacred”, and just from my few months here I notice at times for our student there are disconnects from the reality of life and the rigor of the classroom.

As a staff person that has students staff report to me, I constantly remind myself that I was once a student, and since I am a life-long learner, I remain a student. Therefore I recognize that there are some things about time management and self responsibility that I expect from my staff, but I balance that knowing life happens, and like they say “shit happens”, so I am mindful of their needs, physically (always providing snacks during meetings), mentally (asking how they are doing) and spiritually (encouraging them to find and utilize their own spiritual practice). I wish, better yet, I pray that we as faculty and staff continue to support every aspect of their being so that when it comes time for them to leave us, they will leave appreciating their entire journey. Don't get me wrong, i  don't have the answers on how to see this happen  (I am still learning),  but one thing i have learned from my students is that it is important that we as staff and faculty examine our role in the insanity that is happening on our campus when it comes to the stress and mental stability of our students. 

Now, imagine if Jesus was used as the pedagogical model within the academy. Jesus not only taught his disciples, but fully integrated himself as part of the community. He ate with them, shared his life with them. He admonished them, yet he loved them. And his teachings remained at the heart of his disciples’ journey. We hear it loud in clear from Peter in Acts 2:40 “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Is this not the same message Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17

I am convinced that if we care for the whole aspect of our students we would have provided them with the tools of being mindful of their needs as well-balanced individual. I know it is a better way to say this; hopefully I can come back and reword what I am trying to say.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

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