My Dirty Secret
I have a secret fear. I don’t like to talk about it, because I find it embarrassing.
I’m afraid of looking stupid.
I don’t like to be laughed at. As a professor, I operate with a low-grade fear that at any moment one of my student’s will pipe up and say, “That’s not correct what you said.”
I teach World Religions–mostly the big five: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I’m fine with Christianity, and Judaism to a lesser extent. The other three, though …
I’ve taught the course so many times that I maintain a fair comfort-level. But when I get into a tradition that’s not my own, I realize how much I don’t know. It can get pretty nervy.
I had a student one time who had been a Buddhist monk. I found that out, of course, just as we reached the unit on Buddhism.
Really? It already feels like I’m doing this without a net. Now, you’re going to tell me you know this stuff better than I do? How am I supposed to teach this stuff in front of you?
I told him to jump in if I got it wrong. (I hope my commitment to education surpasses my fear of looking incompetent.)
He was really nice about it–corrected me only a couple of times.