A digression about teaching

This has very little to do with this blog, but I just wanted to share parts of a really nice letter I got recently from a former student. Those of you who aren’t in the education business yourself ought to know how much those of us who are love hearing things like this. I think they go unsaid too often:

Dr. Baym,

It has been quite some time since I spoke with you, but I wanted to contact you because out of all of the courses I participated in at Kansas, your courses have stuck with me the most. Your class in Internet Communication was way ahead of its time. In 2004, we were just beginning to discuss the impact of Facebook was having on the way we socialize on the internet. [...] Many of the topics and issues we covered in your course on Internet Communication come up every single day in my life. [...] I just wanted you to know that I think about your class and what I learned in it almost every day. [...]

Teaching is a lot like gardening — you plant seeds. Some of them never sprout, some bloom profusely within weeks, some keep growing back and others have one good season, others take root but don’t bloom for many seasons. Once you’re out of our classrooms, we never know the long-term impact we might have.

So if you have a favorite teacher from days gone by, send him or her a letter and make someone’s day like this person did mine.

Comments (4) to “A digression about teaching”

  1. Those are my favorite emails from students. I have 3 or 4 saved here and there… Looking at them make me want to get back to liberal arts though:)

  2. Excellent and inspiring post!

  3. really nice post, nancy.

    “Teaching is a lot like gardening — you plant seeds.”


    btw, obviously it’s your blahg and you know best about what is and what is not a digression on your blog, but it is also nice to get a glimpse of nancy the teacher in addition to nancy the researcher via this blahg. so, um, maybe it’s not a digression?

    either way, sweet post!

  4. Hi Nancy,
    As only a “recovering” teacher, I can confirm that when I do get a reachout from one of my students in the distant past it still makes my day… and this is YEARS after leaving the academy.
    Brad Berens