Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ode to the First Day of School

I'm sure I've posted the poem before, but this is the second half of the absence policy I give to my college students -- it sums up my teaching style pretty well.


Did I Miss Anything? by Tom Wayman


         Question frequently asked by
         students after missing a class

Nothing. When we realized you weren't here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours.

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 per cent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I'm about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 per cent.

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose.

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring this good news to all people
on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human existence
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been
gathered

but it was one place

And you weren't here.

4 comments:

Gaia Gardener: said...

Excellent! I love it!

greggo said...

Looks like I missed out that day.

Benjamin Vogt said...

GG--Do you like snarky academics?
G--Uh oh. Come to me class. I'll learn you good.

Martha said...

Doesn't seem snarky to me.

Hilarious actually.