Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gullible or kind?

Tonight I let a student off the hook. She came to me, quiet, waiting to speak. She pressed her hand to her lips to stay the trembling, and when she opened her mouth her tears fell in line with her words. "Please," she said. "I'm overwhelmed."

She had extenuating circumstances, a sick relative, but more than that she had an honesty about her. Could she be taking me for a ride? Always a possibility. But I don't think so. And if she is, the worst she can say is that I was too kind, gave her a chance, believed her lie.

But she didn't cry like a liar.

Mostly it was her words--"I'm so tired. I'm overwhelmed" that got her the extension because in those sentences she crystallized my current feelings.

And I touched her hand (because I want someone to touch my hand) and I said, "We can work this out."

And if I ever grow to be so cynical that I stop believing in their tears, I hope I just retire.


  1. That means God won't punish you with a heart disease, a dead relative and all kinds of other problems. - A Serious Man, the Coen brothers

  2. (I'm not insane, the movie is actually about a picky teacher.)

  3. Very kind! I was overwhelmed once in undergrad, and I'm still friends with that professor. You dun good.

  4. i never talk to professors about late or unfinished work
    I always see it as my own fault for neglecting my work
    not that i hold this to others, i feel that possibly i could have been better off in my early years of college trying to ask for understanding
    but it would be hard to ask for something I don't believe I deserve

  5. Good for you. I agree totally. Who wants to get that one wrong? So gracious of you to let her off the hook, at least that one time. I was never able to get up that kind of courage, mostly because I didn't know the possibility was out there, but it makes the whole process of learning so much more self-defining.


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