Following Test #2 with my sophomores, I felt it was time to have a "Come to Jesus" talk with my classes. Leading up to the test I had provided not only a study guide (from which I developed the exam) but also three of the four short-answer questions and the long essay question that they would have to answer. Indeed, I had even written on the board the answers to the short-answer question. In short: I gave them all of the information necessary to do very well on the test, all they had to do was to study.
Well, some of the guys did brilliantly. Others....well, not so much. Since it was early in the semester, I wasn't too worried: there was, and still is, plenty of time for student to turn their grades around. But I wanted to have "man-to-men" sort of talk, making sure that they understood my expectations of them.
So I sat down on one of the desks and leveled with them. "Guys," I said, "I don't know what more I can do. I give you the notes, I gave you a thorough study guide, and I even gave you the short-answer and essay questions. The only thing I didn't do was to take the test for you."
I paused. A heavy silence hung in the air and, for a moment, a faint glimmer of hope that I was getting through to them flittered through my mind.
And then one of them spoke.
"Mr. Duns," he asked, "Are you depressed?"
"No, I'm not depressed."
"Are you sure?" he replied.
"Yes, I'm sure. I am not depressed."
From another side of the room another voice chimed in, "You know Mr. Duns, denial is a sign of depression."
"I've told you: I'm not depressed!"
"Mr. Duns needs a hug!" cried the first student as he leapt from his seat.
At this moment, I was grateful that I always carry a walking stick with me (I use it as my pointer) because I could brandish in front of me to keep from being swarmed by well-intentioned guys trying to give me an anti-depression hug (Note: the last thing I need is an anti-depression hug. A good glass of Cabernet, sure, but certainly not a hug by a group of guys who still don't know that deodorant is truly man's best friend.)
Having evaded the hug-of-smelly-death, I retreated to my podium, wholly bemused and now wondering: Oh God, maybe I am depressed and have been denying it!
Fortunately, I can report that I am far from depressed. In fact, I can't think of a time as a Jesuit when I've been as fulfilled and joyful...and tired! We're entering Week IX of teaching and things are still going well.
I should mention, too, that Monday is the Feast of the North American Martyrs. It's also my 30th birthday. I can't believe that I'm going to be 30!