Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 07:53:46 -0400 (EDT)
Random Thought: Acceptance

It was the end of the term a few days ago. On the last day of class, we do closure. We bring in an object that symbolizes the experiencet each of us is taking with us from the class. One of them was not the most glowing closure statement I've heard. It fact it was critical. It took me back to a similar one last semester and a later conversation with another student.

"I'm didn't bring in anything," Maxine (not her real name) stood up and defiantly proclaimed, "because I didn't get anything from this class. Schmier didn't do anything. I don't think he did his job. He didn't lecture or give us tests. We had to do all this silly community stuff. We did all the work on all the projects and did all the talking during all the discussions. And he didn't even cover the entire book. It was all a waste of time."

Everyone went silent. The smiles disappeared. Forty-one sets of eyes turned towards me. With a sincere celebrating smile, I just said, "Neat. I appreciate that." Smiles returned, the din arose again, and we continued

After the class was over, an ed major, what you would call a non-traditional student, came over to me and said in my defense. Our conversation went something like this. Again, don't hold me to every word.

"How could you take that crap? How could you just say, 'Neat.' And how could you appreciate what she said."

"That's why I meditate before each class."


"To be prepared."

"Prepared for what?"

"For whatever comes along."

"So what do you do with somene like her who doesn't get it and won't even give it a chance.

"Listen. See. Understand. Respect. Accept," I answered.

"And if she gets in your face like what just happened and acts so disrespectfully? Why didn't you get angry and blow her out of the water? I would have if I was the professor.?

"Why? She wasn't disrespectful."

"Where were you. She shamed you in front of the whole class!"

"Really? Think about it. She didn't do a thing to me. Maybe to herself, but not to me. Whether she intended to or not, she did just opposite. She respected me enough to be openly honest knowing that I wouldn't blow her out of the water and her grade wouldn't suffer. She learned more than she knows."

"Well, I would have cut her off at the knees!"

"Why? If that is how she honestly felt, you want me to hold it against her? Just because she disagreed with me and was honest about it? Besides, I would have cut myself off at the knees in everyone else's eyes, including my own, as I was doing it."

"I watched her all semester. She challenged you all along the way. I think she was setting it up to blame you if she didn't get the grade she wanted."

"Maybe. Sure, she worked for what I think are the wrong reasons. And yeah, she gave fits to the others in the community and tried to give me fits. But, she worked and contributed and participated, however reluctantly and however begrudgingly."

"Maybe, I don't get it."

And this is what I told Matt. "Look, when you become a teacher remember this: be ready for a student to reject you, but don't ever take it personally and feel rejected. You....accept....each....student, the whole student, the good and the bad, unconditionally, no strings, not just a piece. Never....never....never, for any reason, under any circumstances, regardless of what a student says or does, should you reject a single student, and never, never, never treat that student as a reject! If a student screws up, don't ever see him or her as a screw-up. Even if the student receives a failing grade for something, never look at that student as a failure."

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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