Field of Science

Gray thoughts on a gray day

Today is a gray day following two days of rain that have done their best to wash away the fall colors, and it is on such days, especially after spending those days grading exams, that the Phactor is most aware that he is in the fall of his career and life. At such times, thoughts of retirement arise, inevitably and sadly so because my love and enjoyment of teaching botany have not diminished, and my personal interactions with students are still rewarding, as are my scholarly endeavors in spite of their slow pace to completions, but when you realize how little impact your love of learning, your accumulated knowledge and experiences, and your deep insights into certain botanical concepts and problems has had on so many of your charges, you become a bit discouraged. At such times you cling to those who are successes like a drowning person clings to a life ring because you wonder how many seats would be empty if you guarantied the uninterested-in-learning a “C” if they simply left you and the rest of the class alone for the rest of the semester. Of course the really uninterested seldom bother us with their presence anyways, so perhaps it would not be as bad as imagined on a cold, gray day when fading leaves carpet the ground.


Sally said...

Hope the sun has come out, Phactor! It would be a loss if you were to leave teaching (unless it means more blogging!), but maybe it would be nice if great teachers with experience could just teach without all the extra trappings university life inflicts (except the ones you want, of course).

Speaking as one who fondly remembers professors I've never thanked, I'm sure you inspire more than you know. On behalf of others who neglect to, I'll say thank YOU (in lieu of those I can't thank in this world).

Be careful how you define "success"—a lifelong love of plants and/or the natural world is a wonderful outcome to help someone find, even if they never publish a paper.

The Phytophactor said...

Ah, a ray of Sally sunshine! Gray thoughts pass just as do gray days, and you are quite correct; my successes with students are many and mostly not of an academic sort. Shortly after this post a former student contacted me to let me know that she had teamed up with another former student to infuse more botany into the biology curriculum of their high school. And maybe could I assist.

Larissa said...

not to mention there are those who were never your students in class, but instead just in life, who have a profound appreciation for the world and its wonders