Every session, as the session proceeds, my level of annoyance with the students – some of the students, at least – rises.

“Are we going to need that book?” [About one of two books listed as “required,” two weeks into the course.]

“I have been really busy with work, so I couldn’t take the quizzes – is there a way I can still take those?”

“I’m trying to answer the question about ‘aesthetics’ and I haven’t been able to find it in the reading or the lectures, so could you steer me in the right direction for that?” [Translation: I didn’t see the word “aesthetics” in the titles of any of the lectures or in the index. Because if I’d actually taken the 2 minutes necessary to WATCH the video lecture on “Introduction to Beauty” I’d have known it was all about the definition of “aesthetics,” and if I’d done the reading, I’d have read about it there, too.]

And then there are the two students who have evidently not read my multiple emails telling them to choose a different topic for their individual project, and keep turning in work on the topic I’ve told them they can’t work on …

The latest [not making this up; wish I were]: the next to last day of the regular session, I get a phone call from a student who asks “Where’s the book?” … “??” … “I thought there was a link – you mean, we have to buy it?” … “That was in the syllabus.” … “I haven’t had a chance to read the syllabus.”

Or any of the assigned reading, clearly.

My partner says to me, when I complain about this, which I do sometimes, “You don’t have to get angry with them, just give them zeroes …”

I think about this.

The point is, I don’t want them to do badly. I want them to do well.

I want them to want to do well.

What I really want is for them to do the reading and be interested in it, and to watch the lectures I made and kind of like them, and to be curious and fascinated by the intrinsically fascinating subject matter, and to ask questions, and to enjoy thinking about this cool stuff, and to want to talk to me about it, and talk to each other about it even if we do have to do it online, and to have ideas, and surprise me with them, and to find it meaningful, and for all this work I’ve done on this course, which I love, actually, to meet some interest and response in return.

Or, for them at least to read the instructions.

And as I think about this, it occurs to me …

What if God feels this way sometimes … about the world, about the planet, about the Bible, about Jesus, about humanity, about living …

And I think … I want to be a better student.

image - soviet stamp "the girl student"

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:30-32