I've had the privilege of teaching small "seminar size" classes this semester which has allowed me to get to know all of my students pretty well. I've been teaching Psychology at Keene State since '96 and I always end the semester by providing a few parting words, always positive. I let them know how proud I am of them and their work and encourage them to move forward, pursue their dreams, do good work. Since I teach upper level courses most of my students are looking toward the end of their college careers.
Something drew me in to a darker zone this week. Instead of delivering a "Dr. Seuss styled go forth and do whatever you want" kind of message, my words took even me by surprise.
I told each class: "I'm worried about you. I'm worried that you don't get what's out there or all around you. That you are, to paraphrase David Foster Wallace, like fish that don't realize that you're in water. That you have to be more engaged with the world, that you need to take ideas more seriously, that you need to read more books. That, in the immortal words of my Uncle Herbie, 'you need to figure it out'."
I see my students, I care about my students, I'm worried about my students.
Later in the hallway I overheard a student talking about me "Is Larry ok?"