Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is It Worthwhile?

I've always had ambivalent feelings about teaching. There are born teachers who love it, but I became an academic primarily to pursue research. For me teaching was the "price" I paid to be part of the academic community that allows me to follow my ideas.

Recently I received an email from a former student of mine at Indiana University Bloomington who had been one of my first students when I started as an assistant professor in 1987. I had a joint appointment across criminal justice and law. My student said:
Professor Flood

I was unable to post the following in your website's guestbook, so I am emailing it to you:

I took two undergraduate classes with you almost 20 years ago during your tenure at Indiana University. The first was a Law and Society course; the second was a 400 level seminar on Law in Radically Different Cultures.

Even though I never followed through in pursuing a law degree, you had a very significant influence on me and remain one of my two favorite profs. I very much appreciated being allowed to "think outside the box." This encouragement carried me through a sizable chunk of my academic studies.

Shocked, startled, yes, but maybe I feel less ambivalent now. Thank you, Jim.

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