Each Friday we post something to help tired community college teachers recharge for the coming week.
Thanks to Pat, my husband and I have become avid fans of CBS’s Big Bang Theory. In an earlier post, I included a clip of the lovably clueless yet arrogant Dr. Sheldon Cooper folding his laundry. In the same scene, Sheldon fires a nasty verbal shot at Penny, who frets about having lied to her boyfriend Leonard about being a community college graduate. Here’s the exchange:
Penny: I get it! Leonard has no business being involved with a waitress-slash-actress who felt so insecure that she lied to him about finishing community college.
Sheldon Cooper: Why would you lie about that?
Penny: Well, he was going on and on about this college and that grad school – and I didn’t want him to think I was some kind of stupid loser.
Sheldon Cooper: You thought the opposite of stupid loser was community-college graduate?
Penny: You know, there are a lot of successful people who graduated from community college.
Sheldon Cooper: Yet you are neither.
Here’s what happened between Penny and Leonard later in the same episode:
When we community college teachers tell new acquaintances where we teach, we sometimes encounter responses only slightly more polite than Sheldon’s. A few people may even feel compelled to share their negative assumptions about the value of our work or the quality of our students. That seems a little strange to me. In the medical world I once inhabited, the doctors who accept and treat the highest-risk patients are admired, even if their efforts on those patients’ behalf don’t always lead to a perfect result.
I am proud of what I do, and I admire the students I serve. Many are military or members of military families, and they juggle school, job, and family responsibilities with an energy and determination that amaze me. Not all are successful, but many are. Virtually none of them have taken the straightest or easiest path to the goals they hope to attain. From where I sit, Sheldon, community-college graduate is absolutely the opposite of stupid loser.