The mystery

Today I got back the student reviews of my class from this last semester. In general were really positive. Several students said it was the best class they had taken at NYU.

Some students had constructive suggestions for how the class could be better, and I’m always grateful for that. It’s a class I really care about. I spent long hours preparing the lectures this semester, I wrote a lot of custom code to enable students to do assignments at a high level, and I often met with students one-on-one to help them when they are having difficulty.

But one student review was weirdly personal, in a way I’ve never seen before. This student (anonymous of course) called me lazy and rude, and several other negative things.

I tried to think back over the semester, to identify a moment when I could have said something off-putting, or inadvertently offensive. I came up with nothing.

The general feeling in the class the whole semester had been so positive. Students were clearly proud of the work they were doing, everybody was mutually supportive, and we all loved the subject.

So I kept trying to make sense out of this one negative review, thinking that perhaps there was something I could learn from it. Maybe there was some lesson I could take away to help me be a better teacher.

But in the end I was stumped. Sometimes you just need to accept the mystery of other human beings.

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