With this being near V-Day and the midst of the "Love Relief" campaign, I felt the need to write about something more pleasant than my anger with legislatures, both state and federal, or what's happening on the Bachelor.
I need to think positive, and you should too. Therefore, I want to write about my love for women. No, not THAT kind of love. Sure, I could talk about my wife or mom. I could write about my sisters. I could write about the wonderful, strong, and intelligent women who are my colleagues, both online and IRL.
However, there's a group of women that I respect more than any other at the moment: my students.
This is not to say that I do not have wonderful male students, friends, and colleagues. I do. They're great!
But, unfortunately for them this semester, I have some women in my classes that are not only dedicated, sharp students who make teaching fun and interesting on a daily basis but who have also overcome considerable obstacles to be there.
Take, for example, on of the students in my afternoon class. She is what we would call a non-traditional student, meaning that she is not 18-23, and I had the pleasure of teaching her in the prerequisite course. At the beginning of that term that I first had her, she struggled with everything. Not only was she frustrated with her own lack of experience with computers and word processors, she had a strong sense of self-criticism, that she just wasn't a very good writer.
This week, she not only led a discussion on her own but also takes time before class to help other students get their work formatted on the computer. She, like the rest of us, still struggles with self-doubt, but she does not let it stop her cold like it had.
I have a whole set of women with whom it is my pleasure to work as part of the dual-credit program which teaches high school students so that they get both high school and college credit for their work. They are not only smart, funny, and hardworking, but they have begun to take pride in the very value of intellectual pursuit in an environment where little value is placed, especially within their gender sub-culture, on thinking and consideration.
Now, I can only take a very small part of the credit for their evolution as students, but I can own the pride and affection that I have in them and a society where they can be what they are and become even better.
Therefore, in a new spirit of "Valentines", I urge you all to express your pride, encouragement, and...yes, love, to one another, as least for a few days in February. We all need it.
Stephen Swanson teaches as an assistant professor of English at McLennan Community College. Aside from guiding students through the pitfalls of college writing and literature, he spends most of his time trying to remain aware of popular culture, cooking, and enjoying time with his wife and son. He holds degrees in Communications (Calvin College), Film Studies (Central Michigan University), and Media and American Culture Studies (Bowling Green State University). In addition to editing a collection, Battleground States: Scholarship in Contemporary America, he has forthcoming projects on Johnny Cash and approaches to analyzing detective narratives in terms of ethical responsibility.