Teacher-Scholar: The Journal of the State Comprehensive University


Last year, I took several students to the national convention for our honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, where they presented papers, heard their peers do the same, and listened to regionally and nationally known writers. Not surprisingly, they were nervous about presenting their papers, but I assured them that the environment was supportive and that people did not set out to make them appear ignorant. However, I disproved my own assertion when I asked a student from another school a question that left her unable to formulate an answer at all. I apologized to her, as I had not intended to embarrass her, but it was obvious her argument was unaware of post-1970s scholarship and so was a complete misreading of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. I talked with my students about it later, as they could tell I was angry. Of course, I was not angry at the student; I was angry at her professor who had let her get to that point in her career without his or her having guided the student to appropriate areas of criticism and was teaching the novel the way he or she had been taught decades before. My students understood this distinction, and, though they joked with me about my supposed attempt to show off my intelligence by attacking a college student, they already knew that I had not purposefully tried to embarrass her.