Teaching is like sticking a needle in your arm. You get highs, you get lows – and you never know which is going to kill you.

Grading papers, for example, is an inherently boring activity occasionally punctuated by a belly laugh.

Over the years I have catalogued statements by students that have caught my attention.  Some make you smile, some make you wince. All attest to my oft-repeated notion that teachers deserve combat pay.

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RE: Ernest Hemingway’s short story, “A Clean, Well Lighted Place”

The difference between the older waiter and the younger waiter is that the younger waiter was younger and more youthful than the older.

RE: Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Biff has realized reality by being in jail out West.

Willy gets love and admiration from Biff and this gives him the last insentive to kill himself.

When Willy see this [that Biff loves him] he is content, so he reliefs his tired body by killing himself.

RE: Socrates’ Trial

Socrates made a great defense for himself. It is almost as if he put up such a great defense that it killed him.

RE: Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

The people [prior to Darwin] thought that man had evolved from Jesus Christ.

RE: Aristophanes’ Lysistrata

The men in this play were over baring and over sexed. Always thinking with their little head in stead of their big head. Which is mostly true in today’s world . . . It seems to me that in this play all the men did was make war, drink, and have sex with the women to whom they thought they owned.

RE: The Bubonic Plague; Florence, 1347

The amount of corpses dead in the town flourished greatly.

RE: Freudian Theory

The EGO tries to keep the ID under control; for example, that feeling that you get when a pretty girl walks by, well your EGO keeps you from jumping on her.

RE: Andrew Marvel’s poem, ”To His Coy Mistress”

So let us have this wonderful sex before the sun finds us. The speaker tends to be convincing the young lady or reader that sex should not be delayed due to so little time and to him so many virgins.

He’s telling her that if he has to continue to wait for her to breed him that they may wind up old and buried and having to have sex inside an old burial vault, and he tries to explain that a graveyard isn’t the most erotic place on earth to get her bones jumped.

RE: Miscellaneous Topics

 This work of art would not be complete if it didn’t have everything that it has.

By the 16th century philosophers were philosophizing abundantly and the rationality was flowing.

This painting does not really contain any sincerity at all. The depth of the meaning is deep.

[She] diminished her self of steam.

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But perhaps my favorite comment is from a student at Ferris State University during my first year of teaching. We had been reading the Book of Job and discussing the ‘Problem of Evil & Suffering.’

Ok . . . As we go along do things get more complicated or what! What is suffering? Why do we have to know this stuff? I really don’t need to know what suffering is when I get into my profession. Actually, what will the whole class do for me except to “culture” me. I also think you cannot just memorize things for this class, you have to have a real understandment of most of the things taught, because of that this is a pretty difficult class.

Reading that comment, I was overjoyed.  I had just been baptized into my profession, and validated as a humanities teacher!  Just like some entrepreneurs save the first dollar they earn, frame it and hang in on the wall . . .  Well, I saved this beautiful compliment!

"Understandment" comment by student :) :) :)