That Nonconformist Student
This happens pretty much every semester: I have a nonconformist student who gives me a grouchy look and the cold shoulder. Why? Because I’m “the man,” of course. I’m an authority figure—the kind nonconformists love to hate. Plus, I’m a religious studies professor, which probably means I’ll preach the gospel all semester, right?
That is the student I want to win over. Screw the mainstream kids—I’d rather have a classroom of grouchy nonconformists. I would be like that myself if I were in her shoes.
My whole class is about questioning authority and conformity, which I hope she’ll see. I wish there were a secret code word I could use on day one—a code that says “I’m on your side; just wait and see ….”
One time I had an atheist (a rare event at my school) who basically asked on the first day of class if I discriminated against atheists. I told her no, I wouldn’t. I wanted to go on and say this: “I’m an atheist too, and we’ll approach the course material from a critical perspective; just wait and see ….” But I couldn’t, because I keep my atheism under the radar, for obvious reasons.