Tuesday, April 17, 2007


We're all overwhelmed, of course, by the tragedy unfolding at Virginia Tech. My students wanted to talk about it, briefly, although their comments were more condemnatory and distancing than thoughtful or profound. I know, however, that it is too much to expect profundity in the face of the inexplicable. But I had hoped for some glimmer of insight into the fraying fabric of society, the pressures--emotional and intellectual and social--of college life, the increasing fragility of our students.


After it was clear that we weren't going to get past the "what a pscyho!" sound byte, I asked if anyone had a segue from the tragedy of the world at large to the specific tragedies of the novel we were reading.

"I do," offered one student. "Next week my sorority is selling designer jeans for our philanthropy project. They will cost much less than usual." [Picture me, mouth hanging open. Making designer jeans available to the campus community, whose students are spending some 30K/year to study here, and who almost invariably drive a nicer car than their professors, is considered philanthropy? God help us.

I retain sufficient composure to ask, "Which organization does this benefit?"

Student [names national organization for girls which, to my knowledge, has no particular focus on the halt, the lame, the blind....or the poor, for that matter.]

"Well, okay then," I say, haltingly. "Let's start by turning to page...."

{Snick, remember that we are thinking of you all the time}

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At 9:29 AM , Blogger Julia said...

Maybe it's good that I am not in the classroom this term. I don't think I could be anywhere near as restrained as you are.

At 7:08 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

Oh, dear, Dorcasina. I can only hope to reassure you a tiny bit by telling you that they're not ALL that vapid. I had some incredible conversation with my Older Daughter last night about the V.T. tragedy and how it compares to the war we're in. She said her English class has a similar discussion. They're out there, I promise you. I wish you were her teacher, for both of your sakes.

At 8:01 PM , Blogger OTRgirl said...

I'm working with a junior designer, fresh out of school. I feel so OLD! Stop with the IMing, get up, walk 10 feet and talk to me. Ugh. I don't know how you do it.


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