Educating the Hearts of our students

After the 39th and final radiation treatment for prostate cancer on February 26th, I met with the oncologist, and he was very pleased with my progress thus far in having been compliant with the treatment demands, requests, and procedures.  I will meet with the oncologist in one month, and then to return every 3 months for a blood test and PSA results — hopefully, the number will be reduced to normal between 2 to 4 or even a 0.  He said it would take 3 to 6 months to obtain a true reading of the PSA results. I am very positive about the outcome. I have been very blessed with very few, if any side effects.  

In addition, I have been very fortunate to teach 2 ethics courses and 1 thinking critically and creatively course this semester at the technical college.  In addition to the fact that teaching is my life-long passion, it has also been my life blood, motivation, and distraction from cancer as I scaled the mountainous regions of cancer.

I did share with both of my ethics classes that I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer near the beginning of the course.  I wanted to be a model, a mentor, and a messenger of moral courage. Last Wednesday I announced to my 2 ethics classes that I was nearing the end, and I would be finished next Monday. Spontaneously, in both classes, there was a round of applause; and I became teary-eyed.  I know there are various schools of thought as to how much should a teacher share a personal slice of his or her life.  I chose to do so based on how comfortable and bonded I have become with these two classes.  Aristotle reminds us: “Educating the head without educating the heart is no education at all.” Today, I received a follow-up email from a student in one of my ethics classes:

“I would personally like to congratulate you on your recovery from cancer! I lost my mother a year ago (Feb 23) to cancer, and my stepfather is battling his second round of cancer within the last year right now. When you mentioned that in class, it hit close to home. So congratulations!!”

I finished reading the email and thought of the poet, Maya Angelou—

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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