‘Why I am not canceling class tomorrow’

A Berkeley math lecturer’s email to students — “Why I am not canceling class tomorrow” — has gone viral. Andrew Coward explained why a strike by University of California workers will not stop him from teaching his class — and covering two class sections normally taught by striking TAs. Here’s part of it:

In order for you to navigate the increasing complexity of the 21st century you need a world-class education, and thankfully you have an opportunity to get one. I don’t just mean the education you get in class, but I mean the education you get in everything you do, every book you read, every conversation you have, every thought you think.

You need to optimize your life for learning.

You need to live and breath your education.

You need to be *obsessed* with your education.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that because you are surrounded by so many dazzlingly smart fellow students that means you’re no good. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And do not fall into the trap of thinking that you focusing on your education is a selfish thing. It’s not a selfish thing. It’s the most noble thing you could do.

Society is investing in you so that you can help solve the many challenges we are going to face in the coming decades, from profound technological challenges to helping people with the age old search for human happiness and meaning.

That is why I am not canceling class tomorrow. Your education is really really important, not just to you, but in a far broader and wider reaching way than I think any of you have yet to fully appreciate.

Coward is an Oxford graduate. Here’s his teaching statement.

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  1. I really appreciated this letter. There was a TA strike while I was in college, and we didn’t have finals in half our classes. The last couple of weeks just didn’t happen. I have to say I really kind of resented that–we only got one shot at finishing the semester, after all.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      It’s particularly damaging when you’re in a prerequisite and the prof in the next class isn’t likely to make allowances for a TA strike.
      At my U, back in the day, a prof teaching an intro class–prereq for everything else in the field–said he’d give all students a blanket A so they could radicalize (1967). No classes. Not much help the next year.