Teaching, (and aging early as a result), and the rewards

My friend and former student, Corey Taube just posted on Facebook:


This is SO true for the last two weeks, while I grade research papers and stress trying to get everything done for everybody at the end of the semester.  I feel ancient and exhausted.

I have had some moments of pulling my hair out, but I’ve also had some moments where I’m reduced to tears over the beauty of a student-crafted argument in a final research paper.

Then. I just read this one.

I am sitting in awe for a moment. This semester, as usual, my Composition class read “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon. The narrator in this book is on the Autism Spectrum. One girl in my class who had several mental health diagnoses in the past (Borderline personality disorder, bulimia, ADD, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety), recognized herself in the protagonist’s characteristics. She committed herself to a mental health facility and asked to be tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Bingo. Her self-diagnosis was spot-on.

THEN, she did her research paper on the misdiagnosis of women on the Autism Spectrum. I just read it. It’s beautiful. It’s far more than I expect from a freshman research paper. It’s beautifully done, crafted, and supported with serious research material. Women, more socialized as girls to respond emotionally, learn to mask their symptoms, and withdraw in social settings instead of acting out, and don’t get recognized as being on the Autism Spectrum. Those who are functional and intelligent students get by in every way…and sometimes diagnoses don’t happen until twenties or later.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I’m stunned and grateful, and as much as the picture above is true, this is one of those moments when teaching is far, far, far-and-away worth every painful moment of fatigue.

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