spectating participant

March 3, 2006

Guilt and Shame

Filed under: school, life — suzanne henderson @ 3:30 pm

We’re not talking just ordinary guilt and shame, no! This is Irish-Catholic guilt and shame to it’s fullest extent and glory. Add in a little backlash and with no hopes for redemption and you’ve got the most interesting classroom dynamic I’ve ever witnessed.

Right now I’m taking a class with, as I see it, a fairly new professor. I believe he is the newest professor in my department and is feeling the need to truly establish himself. And so, yesterday, we were supposed to discuss some readings (readings that should have been completed by Tuesday), but the class showed up unprepared. When he asked for a show of hands of who had completed the reading, I was nervously expecting to see my unraised hand in the small minority. However, no one raised their hand, not even the grad students who seem to be on top of things most of the time.

Here enters the good ol’ catholic guilt and shame. He gets all upset, decides that it is an absolute waste to have class if no one is interested in learning anything and he tells us we are free to go. Now, this I can handle. I can recognize the frustration of having no class participation and the decision to throw guilt on our shoulders as he walks out the door. It turns out, however, that he was holding out on us.

Today, the full weight of our dereliction is pressed into us via email. Now we have moved beyond the basic catholic guilt-shame combination and moved right into unbearable weight of personal sin of the catholic irish. This goes even deeper than Thursday’s criticism, a true sign of the ever judging–never redeeming–nature of god and our professor. I feel that I should be lashing myself instead of lashing the keys.