Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The dream is dead

Bill Maxwell, who was friends with my father when they both taught at Santa Fe Community College, goes back to teaching, this time at a historically black college, with depressing results. (via Nancy Nall)

By the end of the spring semester, I knew that I could not remain at Stillman another year. I had a few good students, but a few were not enough. One morning as I dressed for work, I accepted the reality that too much of my time was being wasted on students who did not care. I felt guilty about wanting to leave. But enough was enough.

A week before I left Stillman as a professor, I drove through the main gate en route to a final exam. As always, I saw a group of male students hanging out in front of King Hall.

The same four I had seen when I drove onto campus nearly two years earlier were milling about on the lawn. I parked my car and walked over to the group.

"Why don't you all hang out somewhere else?" I asked.

"Who you talking to, old nigger?" one said.

"You give the school a bad image out here, " I said.

They laughed.

"Hang out somewhere else or at least go to the library and read a book, " I said.

They laughed and dismissed me with stylized waves of the arm.

I walked back to my old Chevy Blazer, sad but relieved that I would be leaving.

In my office, I sat at my desk staring at a stack of papers to be graded. I'm wasting my time, I thought. I've wasted two years of my professional life. I don't belong here.

Aside: this thread at Nancy Nall's is fascinating.