Comfort and connection in a college class

A student of mine is caring for an aging parent. When she struggles to complete her work, I tell her not to worry that she couldn’t complete the reading because she was up all night. “We’ll talk things through – don’t worry about it,” I tell her.

In class, after discussing texts related to domestic violence 😑, – good times! – I asked if there was anything I could do to support her. She thought about it. Then she said that she was isolated, and had no friends who were caring for aging parents. Just being able to talk to us in class, to people who understand, who care, is worth more than anything else.Even pouring herself into reading up on rape laws pulls her away from her struggles.

Teaching doesn’t just do one thing. We don’t just transmit information, explain texts, or critique ideas. Teaching does many things. Teaching-learning spaces support hearts, lift up spirits, connect people, make the day pass easily, allow us to laugh together at apologetics, puzzle over historical parallels, and roll our eyes at the irony of US politics. Things make sense.

If things don’t make sense, the human connection makes it better. I’m here, listening to you. I’m here, talking to you. It’s an electric connection, and it gives life. Without that connection, the teaching-learning space is dead.

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