Monday, June 29, 2015
My professors wrote long notes to me. They bashed, they encouraged. They gave me early B's, cajoled me toward less baroque results, congratulated me when progress was made.
But none of it was easy. Most of the time, trying so hard, I was lonely. So lonely and ultimately out of my element that I left Penn for one semester to take classes at the much-smaller Haverford College. There (and I recall this well) I found my niche. There conversation mattered as much as the final exam.
Just now, sifting and sorting through these files, I find a note I wrote to a favorite Haverford professor. The final paragraph:
Finally, I'd like to add that, as a University of Pennsylvania student who moved off campus this semester feeling utterly alienated and unable to communicate with my contemporaries, the group discussion session proved extremely valuable to me. It was an experience as necessary as it was fun.Perhaps I write today because I gave myself room for the poetic at Haverford. Perhaps much of the way I teach now at Penn stems from what I learned about the importance of creating classrooms where names are known, ideas are valued, and affection is absolute. We learn better in those environments. We take what we learned forward.