[plt-scheme] Empathy for our students [Was: Re: Why "lambda"?]

From: Gary Baumgartner (gfb at cs.toronto.edu)
Date: Sat May 30 22:32:36 EDT 2009

> On Sat, May 30, 2009 at 4:48 PM, wooks <wookiz at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > On May 30, 7:54 pm, Shriram Krishnamurthi <s... at cs.brown.edu> wrote:
> >> > As for Cohen, I am willing to forgive him everything because he
> >> > clearly empathises with the student he is writing for.
> >>
> >> So do many people who write in Greek (which apparently includes Cohen).
> >>
> >
> > Thats for the student to judge. I have no doubt that the people who do
> > it think they do.
> No, you're only in a position to judge whether an author *appears* to
> empathize.
> Furthermore, every educator on this list has had the experience of
> students who returned years later and said, "You made me do X several
> years ago, and I disliked/hated/didn't understand the point to it, but
> now I do, so thank you".  Sticking with such X's is also a kind of
> empathy, but one that a student is literally unable to judge in the
> short term.


I, and the committee for my "tenure", heard this from many former students
 (moreover, though not necessary for this argument, I and presumably many
 instructors on this list have teaching awards from student nominations
 and surveys during or just after a course).

One instructor I know is quite popular (and/but a very good instructor), but
 leans too much to an "empathy" side for my taste in discussions of followup
 courses to his/hers. He/she recently taught such a followup course, becoming
 a client of his/her earlier courses, and is now "pushing" and "scaring" the
 students in the earlier courses more explicitly about their preparation.

It's also a bit of a personal point with me, because my mother had a naive notion
 of "empathy": feel intense "love", say "positive" things, but live in denial
 that unpopular and painful (in the short term) choices might need making.
 It had disastrous consequences: she delayed divorcing my father, which would
 actually have been popular with us children immediately though not perhaps
 with some of her friends or family. My father emotionally abused us children
 (unwittingly, since only now do he and I know he has Asperger's), but not her
 (she easily and immediately divorced him when us children left home). This
 "empathy" allowed a broken family to continue, and then my brother not getting
 the help he needed later (though my mother tried "laying of hands", or whatever
 the spiritual church calls it) and so he died on the streets.

I hope that wasn't too off-topic/personal for the list (though I just noticed
 it ties into another poster mentioning "tough love").

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