dear student, do you hear yourself?

Someone on my campus sent this video to me saying that she thought I’d enjoy it. Well, of COURSE I enjoyed it!

Let me be clear: Not all students who are failing or doing poorly in our classes are like this.  Many students take responsibility for their actions (or lack of action).  And most of the time faculty have great sympathy for students who struggle in our classes for various legitimate reasons and many of us try to intervene before the students actually fail the class.

Still, there is always that one or two (or few) students who don’t do any work, miss classes, or do poorly on major assignments (and make no attempts to do better) and suddenly care about their grades at the end of the semester.

Believe it or not, faculty do find themselves having this very conversation with real students.  We hear pleas like “But I really want to pass your class” or “I really need an A in this class.”  And the infamous “extra credit” plea.  Oh boy, do we hate that.  (One time, a student argued that her 9 absences were not absences  since her absences were result of her being a mother of two children. She actually said to me, “Are you saying that people who have children should not go to college?”  My eyes nearly popped out of my head and my jaw dropped. Unbelievable.)

Some students are under the impression that the following is true:  “If I really want it – really, really want it – then I can have it.”

But something’s missing in that statement. It should be more like, “If I really want it – really, really want it – and I work hard for it, then I can have it.”

(Side note: Even this revised statement is not exactly true.  We don’t grade students on their efforts.  Sometimes they do really work hard but cannot achieve the course objectives for various reasons (under-prepared for the course, for example).  Sometimes, even the most diligent students have hard time accepting this.  The idea that they spend countless hours on an essay, revising it and editing it, and then earn a grade of “C” is difficult to accept.   But students must remember that grades reflect mastery of skills, not effort.)

It’s sad that some of our students see their college classes in this way – something they can scramble to get a passing grade for. What happened to the learning? What about the process? What about ethics?  What about hard work?

Oh well. It seems that I’m in one of those moods this week – as you can see from my last posting – “all for naught?”  A little Christmas weekend will do the trick.

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