Thursday, April 9, 2009

Knowing and Caring

Way back when I was a professor, teaching Computer Science, there was a favorite saying on my bulletin board. It was in a place that I could see easily, as a daily reminder, intended for me rather than for my students.

It is a simple, and relatively well-known antimetabole that goes like this:

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

Looking at it reminded me to care about my students. Caring about the attendees at my recent presentation reminded me of the saying.

Writing this reminds me of a student I met for the first time just after I had posted the final grades for a largish class.

He fingered his name at the bottom of the list and addressed the "F" next to it. He begged me to raise his grade to a "D-" so that he could keep his scholarship and not have to go work for a year in the oil fields.

I countered by gesturing up the list from his name to the nearest "D-" and suggested that it wouldn't be fair to all those people to raise him up above them. They had at least taken a quiz or two, or handed in an assignment or two. They had at least attended class one time.

His shoulders slumped as he agreed.

I was very happy to see him in the hallways a year later. Not only had he survived a year in the old fields, but he had learned a valuable lesson. And earned some credit in the school of hard knocks.

1 comment:

Myrna said...

If all professors believed in your wonderful quotation, then I don't think the veneer of civilization would be quite so thin in the academic world. Unfortunately, there are too many whose mantra is closer to "I am paid for what I know, not for what I do" and caring isn't even in the equation.