Facing Our Sub Consciousness

Posted: January 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

I have been asked more than once why I would volunteer without pay to help out in a school classroom. I spoke to the relatively altruistic attitude I have had in mind. I say relatively altruistic because there is a school of thought that there is no real altruistic motive. Maybe there isn’t. You have to accept that there is at least a feel good element in most volunteer efforts. Believe me I don’t have a real feel good attitude after spending a couple of hours in a class room in which I sense a large group of individuals who do not care about learning. I don’t argue with those who say these things because it is more important to me for students to level with me and tell me the truth about their feelings than to have them tell me what they think I want to hear. As a matter of fact I have gotten some real candid responses to my queries about what certain young people expect out of life. I might express chagrin – good naturedly – to some of them; but to one of them I gave a quick “right answer” to an idea that might cause grief to other less accepting oldsters.

But, what got me into this piece was my reflection on an event that happened to me in my class in calculus in college. We were in a particularly challenging (to me) unit when I came into class one day and made a comment like I had not even begun to study before the prior evening. I was talking relatively, of course. I had been studying all along I just hadn’t gotten to a section quite as challenging before. Later, I was expressing confusion over the part the letter “K” played in our equations and formulas. Instead of explaining to me what I was missing the teacher said, “I can understand why you don’t get it if you don’t bother to study”. Is it any wonder I made the decision to opt for classes in “Interpretation of Prose” and “Interpretation of Poetry” by my favorite English teacher rather than take classes by the teacher who had insulted me? Of course when I announced my decision to leave college – on a pretext of running out of money – to the same math teacher who happened to be my advisor he answered, “Ok, Chief”. At that time I didn’t even know that a chief was a rate in the Navy. I’m not sure Mr. Ryan was referring to the Navy rank, either. “Chief” was a common term for somebody who is in charge; even if he meant it sarcastically. Actually I was running out of money but when a certain Father Toner called me and told me there was an anonymous donor who wanted to pay for my next semester’s tuition I stretched the truth and told him that I had committed myself to the Navy. I had verbally committed myself, but I hadn’t signed anything yet. I could have accepted his offer. If I had, however, I would have probably gotten drafted because my grades were so low that I was on academic probation. I received my draft notice while I was in boot camp.

So, was my sub consciousness driving me to make the decision on which classes to opt for, Dr. Schneider’s classes over Mr. Ryan’s? Was I, deep down inside angry because of the insult delivered the previous semester?


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