‘Tis the Season

It’s not the holiday season I’m referring to. No, I’m referring to the season of student inquiries, lack of preparation, general disrespect, and teacher/professor burnout.

I give you “Did I Miss Anything?” by Tom Wayman.

Did I Miss Anything?

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered

but it was one place

And you weren’t here

—Tom Wayman

Consider visiting “Poetry 180 / A Poem a Day for American High SchoolsHosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003”, if you’re not too busy reading the syllabus two days before finals week.


Motivation for Monday, 11/30/15

I know it’s dangerous to post this as we begin the final weeks of the semester, but this is when we need to remember it most. We can only do our best to control our own lives, thoughts, bodies– and even then it seems futile much of the time. We cannot control others, no matter how much we want to. Relax…



Motivation for Monday, 8 November 2015

There’s a lot of talk and action here in Columbia, about and around the University of Missouri and recent calls for University President Wolfe and Chancellor Loftin to resign or be removed. In the coming days, we must listen instead of merely hearing. We must be fair instead of giving the appearance of fairness. Press the buttons that help us grow together, instead of pushing buttons that divide us.



Each Time This Happens

1 October 2015

Senator Claire McCaskill,
Senator Roy Blunt, and
Representative Vicki Hartzler,

I am your constituent. This fall marks my eleventh year living in the state of Missouri. Today marks the 41st time there has been a shooting at a school in the United States. It has to stop. Now.

I am not a card carrying member of the National Rifle Association. But my brothers are. My father was. I may not be a member, but I’m a pretty good shot. In actuality, none of this matters. I shouldn’t have to give you some proof that I’m on the right side of the ‘gun issue.’ I’m an American who is tired of seeing her countrymen, women, and children killed every single day. I’m a teacher who is tired of wondering if this will be the day when a student believes his ‘right’ to an “A” supersedes a professor’s right to live, and my campus is featured on the national news. I’m a rhetorician that is tired of the faulty logic and lack of logos used against calls for gun access reform. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. I guarantee you that Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner, and others wouldn’t have been able to kill the dozens they did, in mere minutes, if they had be forced to engage in hand-to-hand combat. I’m tired of being tired.

Change our world. Change it now.

We need universal background checks for guns. Please pay me and millions of other Americans a wee bit of respect and don’t try to tell us that this “won’t solve the problem.” It’s a start. Honest gun owners won’t have a problem proving they’re reasonable. Give them a chance to prove to you that they’re not spoiled, petulant children unable to play well with others.

Close the gun show loopholes that allow fast, quick, and far too easy methods of obtaining these handheld weapons of mass destruction. Save a family the pain of having to grieve their daughter’s death because it was more important for someone to take a rifle home one Saturday afternoon.

I kindly ask you to care, to give a damn about the millions of Americans who are tired of these murders. Why do you want more Americans to die, when simple measures have been proven to have a positive impact on reducing gun violence?

This fall marks my eleventh school year as a professor at Columbia College, in Columbia, Missouri. I’m a tenured professor of Communication Studies. This semester I’m teaching my students how to speak in public, how humans uniquely communicate, and how mass communication effects our society. Nine years ago I had a student rage about a grade he received on a speech. He stormed out of a staff member’s office with such anger and speed, that the employee called campus security. When the young man proclaimed “I’ll take care of this!”, the staff member feared for my safety. Unbeknownst to me, campus security and the Dean of Student Life, stood on watch, outside of my office as I naively went about my work at my desk. They left an hour later, grateful nothing had happened. I knew nothing of what had transpired until a colleague clumsily told me of the entire series of events. I truly consider myself lucky to be alive.

I’ve told friends, family, and colleagues that that day was transformative. Ever since then, I’ve felt in my core that I would die at school. Please work to prove me wrong. Please care enough about me and my students and my colleagues to protect us. Care about our country to change our violent culture, by enacting full and complete background checks for all gun purchases.

Amy L. Darnell, Ph.D.

p.s. Should I die at the hands of a student carrying a gun, I’ll be sure to tell my family to invite you to my funeral.


International Women’s Day, 2015

Oh what to say on this Sunday morning? I could say that I’m tired and worn from the stresses of a career in education. I could say that the spite of strangers can make a person cry. I could say that my time in the Ohio Education Association was much better than the women who had to sign this contract:

I could say, should say, and WILL say that my complaints and stressors could be so much worse. I have money in the bank, the right to vote, and can walk around a house without fear of abuse or violence. On this, International Women’s Day, I will remember and lift up the students who make my life’s vocation a joy, and ignore those who claim the joy that belongs to others. I will do my best to view these latest impediments to my eyes, mind, and heart as mere distractions. Here’s to lessons learned.