Monday, July 08, 2013

The power of being thanked

There is no doubt that this note has a measure of "self-centered" focus as I post it, but I offer it with as a way to remind myself why I do what I do.  I post it to note how important it was for me, this week, to be thanked by by others!  (I've had a hard few days and weeks for other reasons.)   And, let's face it - a blog is a personal place for posts, so this blog should in some way be focused on issues of my life!

I sent a book to a family friend a few weeks ago, that I picked up in Oxford and packed in my luggage to bring back to the States.  It was a book I knew she would appreciate from my knowledge of her unique interests.  She thanked me by sending an email and then, a few days later (last week) my wife handed me the hand-written letter that this 70+ year old sent through the "snail mail" to our home.  Robyn and I noted how the practice of writing thank you cards, and even saying thank you, is dying off for too many.  In fact, a recent graduate told us in his words, as he opened graduation gifts from family and friends, how he would not be writing thank you cards because, "My generation just doesn't do that."   (Wow!)

I've had the privilege to teach many learners in various programs at several universities over the years.  Most learners - for most teachers I know - rarely get back in touch with the teacher.  Learners go on their way and we who teach them don't know what happens to many of them.  (Of course, social media has changed this in recent years.)

This week a traditional graduate student sent me, well into the Summer, long after grades were assigned, a personally written letter, mailed from her home several States away.  Her words were about the course I teach on the atrocities associated with Antisemitism and the Holocaust.  She wrote among other things:

"Your class was in my top three of my college career!  I have never been challenged and rocked by a class before. . . .  You do an excellent job of instructing the class leaving room for growth and discussion.  Your heart for the Lord was also very evident throughout the class and I have so much respect for that, especially since you are able to stand firm in that while not possibly imposing on those who might not share the faith like you and I.  I hope you have a small idea of how much I was challenged and enjoyed the class despite the horrible content . . . ."

I taught a course for another institution online at the end of 2012.   The student was emailed a course survey in January 2013 and for whatever reason he just this week sent an email to the Program Administrator about his experiences in the University. This learner stands out, too, as he was a truly exceptionally engaged learner and by his testimony (which seemed accurate) a MENSA  member by virtue of his ranking I.Q.  He wrote:

"My greatest joys were the interaction with many of my amazing classmates, and the truly phenomenal faculty.  A very special shout-out goes to Marty Alan Michelson, who was one of the 3 best professors I had in my long journey through higher education."

I needed to hear these words today.

And I'm thankful - very, very thankful - to be thanked!

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