The Prime Directive

I spent part of my weekend attending the sporting events of some of my current students.   I usually try to do this once a semester.  I'm not the biggest of sports fans, but I do try to be supportive.  Inevitably, too, I find myself thinking how little I actually know about my students' lives.

Sitting in the stands I always catch snatches of conversation and realize that 'so and so' is dating 'what's his name.'  I even get a sense of the ever-evolving groups and subgroups that make up a small campus community.  I like to think I have a good rapport with my students, but as a faculty member my connection exists almost entirely  in the classroom, a space I structure and over which have a nominal (if not actual) authority.

The classroom is in many ways an artificial world and has its own peculiar rules and routines. Put me in a classroom and I am comfortable and at home, but put me in a social situation with students beyond the classroom and I usually feel awkward and self-conscious.  What on Earth do we have in common?  As a result, I tend to observe Star Fleet general order # 1 when it comes to socializing with students: there must be no interference with the internal development of alien cultures.

For a few years my office was on the same floor as a student resident hall.  Sometimes coming into work, or stopping by the office on a weekend, I would happen onto students necking or having a beer party in their rooms.  One morning as I was coming down the hall, a student was scurrying back from his shower wrapped only in a bath towel.   I was the alien in these situations.  I was on their planet, so I carefully observed the Prime Directive and pretended not to notice.  It's just better that way.

Comments

Frida said…
oh! i want that picture!!!!!
Me said…
I always felt so weird and uncomfortable whenever I met my teachers outside of class. Now I realise they must have felt the same way.
Frida said…
@ me - it depends on what i am doing - if i am out shopping and have a case of cutty sark in my shopping cart, i might feel a bit weird and uncomfortable seeing a student.

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