Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The popular kid

I can't get over how much my fellow social work students like and respect me.

I am being forced to study statistics, for the third time; I took it in my master's program and at The Bad Place, where I didn't finish the semester and have no grade to prove that I know the material. I barely failed the placement exam -- which covered a ton of material not on the syllabus for the actual course I'm now taking, but WHATEVER -- but close only counts in horseshoes.

So I'm taking stats again, and I've joined a study group. I had to; that's how the lab is organized. We form groups and work on the homework assignments together, handing them in as group work. Which is awesome, because discussing the problems helps me really understand the concepts, and I'm already familiar with SPSS, the stats software, so my lab partners think I am a genius.

I was out last week for Passover, and before that I was in a group that dissolved, so this was my first week meeting with my new group. And they're simply thrilled to have me.

One of the students, Jerry, is a guy in his 50s, who's had two successful seasons in Wall Street and the high-tech sector; he's on his third career. I love to listen to him talk in class; he has an uncanny knack for getting to the heart of the matter, and his knowledge is so broad and varied. In his spare time, he volunteers as a boy scout leader for children living in a shelter for domestic violence victims. He is one of the most impressive and likable people in our class.

Jerry told me today how glad he is that I joined his stats study group.

"Really?"

"Ayelet, you made such a strong impression on me during orientation -- the first person in our class who really stood out. You were so articulate, and you also reached out to others. I was very impressed."

"You're kidding." I barely remember what happened during orientation, and have absolutely no idea what I said -- aside from one pithy remark during the session on stress reduction. The moderator asked what stress was, and I said, "When situational demands exceed coping resources." Psychobabble, but a few people told me later they were impressed.

Still, aside from that little coup, I was mildly depressed, and still seriously wounded from my experience at The Bad Place. And still having trouble coming to grips with being a social worker rather than a psychologist. So that was probably my most memorable line of the week.

"No, I'm serious," he said. "I wish I spoke as well as you do. I get the feeling that people get impatient when I contribute in class. I feel like I'm losing them."

You could have knocked me over with a feather -- I learn something every time Jerry opens his mouth. I was impressed that I'd impressed him.

"Please don't feel that way," I told him. "Don't dumb your comments down because you think you're losing people. I really get a lot out of what you say."

He demurred modestly, and I fled to the computer lab to print out some papers. Still scratching my head (metaphorically).

I met with him and the other two group members later, and kept getting similar plaudits from all three of them. I'm not used to being the popular kid in school, but I have to say -- social work students are nicer than psychology students. And most of them are smarter, too.
Copyright (c) 2007 "Ayelet Survivor"

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that your new classmates appreciate you! God knows you have it coming; they gave you so much grief over your contributions at The Bad Place and it was entirely unfair. It sounds like they just have more sense in social work school. :)

    Also, I think that social workers are less self-important than psychologists, which may be contributing to their willingness to hear (and enjoy) your comments.

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