It was like watching a beautiful piece of art work catch fire. Every detail labored over vanish from site in a flash.
The end of the meeting ended unceremoniously. Everyone begrudgingly got up and meandered away with the few lingerers hoping to find someone to vent with. Ryan and I got up and left together. I stayed behind to walk with him because I myself needed to debrief but I wasn’t sure how much he was willing to discuss. We got into the hallway and were able to exchange a few words before separating. He tried to name it but wasn’t able to find the word. That didn’t shock me because of the battering he took while standing in front of the group. I called it out loud and he nodded along to acknowledge that I’d figured it out. Entitlement.
I found myself disturbed watching the scene unfold. A group of 25 students barraging a professional in his field with questions that wreaked of entitlement while the groups leader fidgeted and paced the room. It was a sight I’ve never seen before. Before joining the staff at this institution I understood the projects being undertaken to support this underwhelming community. I only realized later this project was just the opening of Pandora’s box. Students wanted everything, on top of the already incredibly generous support the institution was giving them. It made me sick.
When all is said and done the group will resume normal operations. I need to own the fact that maybe nothing changed, no “ah-ha” moments occurred . These statements aren’t shared in a negative light but rather in the most neutral, realistic view possible.
I’ve learned that development is a slow grind. I won’t always walk away from an experience with students confident they’ve learned. Maybe in 5 years they will look back and say “Now I get what Steven was saying.” Maybe. If I take this all too personally I will burn out. I have to respect the process. I have to respect that sometimes students are ready. I have the respect that I can only do what I am capable and let the rest fall as it may.