This happened in an examples class
. The latecomers were
drifting in so I started to hand out the example
working from the front to the back of the class.
When I was done I turned around and already there was a student
with his arm raised. Then another, then another.
Pretty soon they'd all be signalling for help.
The guy who had his hand up first
could only have glanced at the first question on
the sheet for at most five seconds. That was enough time for him to
decide that he couldn't solve it unaided, that looking at his lecture notes
wouldn't help him, that thinking about it for another second was
pointless. A few months ago this student was still at school, he had been
good at this subject, engaged by it. Otherwise he wouldn't be here now
studying it at university. Somehow in the intervening time, for whatever reason,
that spark of interest, that ability, had been crushed.
Standing at the back of the class surveying this sorry
scene was my most depressing moment in teaching.
And then I had one of those rare cathartic moments.
I felt a surge of adrenalin
and I bounded to the front of the class. I was going to
reawaken the joy these students once felt for a beautiful subject,
reinstill their confidence, communicate the enthusiasm that I feel!
This was my most inspiring moment in teaching. I hope I never lose that.