Friday, December 05, 2014

6 December 1989

I don't teach much, but twenty-five years ago, in 1989, I was teaching a New France course at U of T. On the morning of December 7, I had an in-class exam to administer first thing in the morning.

Commentary on the news from Montreal had barely begun, but what had happened at an exam room at the Ecole Polytéchnique the night before was giving me the horrors at the prospect of walking into a mixed class and just starting to hand out test questions.  So I said something, and the visceral moan or rumble that came back from the students really brought home to me how immense and awful this whole thing was and would become.

We took a moment of silence, and then I did hand out the questions. I soon wished I'd encouraged more response -- I was only doing the exam because it seemed obligatory, and I don't know that the students cared so much what they were marked on. That anniversary still touches me personally the way some of the other terrible events don't.
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