I received all my education at public institutions. I came from a middle-class home. There are times when I sense that others–particularly faculty, but sometimes students as well–sniff a little at the notion that I’m “merely” a public school “product.” Sure, I sat in a few 200-student classes—in fact, one of the first convinced me of my future profession. I also had a number of small classes—and you know something? I was able to learn in every format.
There is much that is wonderful about the Davidson bubble, but I worry when I see both students and faculty feeling, as the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live used to say, “just a little bit superior”* to those poor blokes who had to make do with public schools, bless their hearts.
And it’s weird to hear some students talking about spending huge sums–as in, more than my total salary when I started teaching–on spring break adventures and parties and the like. I ache for those of my students who have to think about going out to eat or buying texts or all those expenditures that so many seem to just take for granted. And there are times when I find myself in a curious mixture of envy and annoyance.
Moral of my story: building yourself up by putting others down, even without realizing you’re doing so, only belittles you in the process—and it blinds you to the wonderful commonalities and differences that we could explore together.