Thursday, April 3, 2008

Little Earthquakes

I am having a nostalgic week, mainly because I keep getting phone calls from various educational organizations reminding me that I have reunions this year (and the numbers they attach to these phrases are just too large to fathom!). However, reunion season does force you to look at yourself and see just how far you have come from when you graduated. I look back at high school and look at some of the people who attended and graduated with me and realize that they will have longer obituaries than I do (I am a little maudlin that way). One guy I graduated with (who probably has no memory of me whatsoever) is now a fairly famous actor/director and another guy is on television every Monday night-and let me assure you that this was not a performing arts school. One person I knew is now a prominent professor of political science who has written many books.

The likelihood of me achieving these kinds of things is remote. My acting skills are minimal, and so is my time for researching and writing books since I have about fourteen years before my youngest child even applies to college. And, if you knew me, you know that the idea I would be a professional athlete is so far out of the question you would have to laugh out loud, in my face, and I would laugh with you. So, all in all, I think my family will be one of those that ends up paying for my death notice, rather than have some Boston Globe, or even better, a New York Times, reporter write it (that maudlin streak again). There will be no seriously outdated pictures either, and that is fine. 

Don't get me wrong: I am not at all disappointed in the way my life or my career has turned out.  Have I achieved the promised work/life balance that all women of my generation seek?  No, but I have found a comfort zone where I can do most of the things I want to get done reasonably well.  I see my ultimate success in smaller increments.

I see my success when I talk to a student and my advice is helpful, or when a student has done so well they no longer have to see me. I don’t mean to suggest that Academic Support folks are the elves that come out at night and make the shoes; we are certainly not that far behind the scenes. An improved paper, better exam grades, more confidence on multiple choice exams: all of these things are small victories for us and our students. It is even an achievement when I tell a student that law school may not be the place for them, now or ever, because if that is true, it needed to have been said.

Perhaps people underestimate the importance of Academic Support because they fail to understand the theory of gestalt, that is: the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. So while I have not made any headlines, bylines or said many lines in my career, I know that my little earthquakes have shaken more than a few people, and that is just fine. Now, if I could put all that on a t-shirt suitable for evening wear, I would wear it to all those reunions. (ezs)

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