Monday, April 25, 2011

Bang head here

I gave an exam in class today.

I just received a rambling, ungrammatical e-mail from a student apologizing for missing class and wanting to know what we did and what he could do to make it up - no glimmer, apparently, that we had an exam today.

I think I figured out what frustrates me with some of the students (predominantly, but not exclusively, Millennials): they are so used to people mopping up after them, they are so used to being told, "Oh, that's all right, don't worry about it" that their senses of responsibility have somewhat atrophied.

I have students who have no qualms about handing papers in late - some don't even ask - and get incensed when I tell them I don't accept late work. I have students who don't follow lab safety rules and that I have to harass on a regular basis. And even little stuff - like, in an exam, when I close the classroom door (because the prof in the next room has a loud droning voice that CARRIES and I know I'd be annoyed having to take an exam listening to it) and students finish up and leave, and just leave the door standing wide open, so I have to walk over and close it again. Or walking in late and going, "Sorry, I had a hard time parking." And doing that AGAIN and AGAIN. (Hint: if you have trouble finding a parking place, LEAVE THE HOUSE FIFTEEN MINUTES EARLIER. Oh, I know, it's hard if you have kids or spouse or whatever but TOO DAMN BAD. We all have difficult things we have to do in life)

And I just wonder - are they really going to expect this kind of treatment out in the work world? I know getting a job now is really difficult, surely an attitude of "the world owes me" and "I am special and the rules don't apply to me" won't help.

I get fed up with the fact that deadlines are seen - even by some profs - as an antiquated concept. Um, one reason I like due dates? I like to grade everything at once. Much, much easier to tell if Bobby copied from Jimmy. And easier to be more fair...if everyone seems to have muffed a certain concept, I can be more lenient on that. But if I don't have all the papers to look at at once, I might not figure that out.

And besides, there's the issue of fairness to the prof. I budget time to grade. I might budget 4 or 6 hours on a particular day. But if I don't have all the papers that day, then I have to find 15 minutes or 30 minutes here and there to grade the late-rons.

Don't get me wrong - a lot of the students I have are wonderful and can take responsibility. But some of them...I just shake my heads over them and wonder if they're going to ever get it together. (And I don't think continuing to coddle them helps at all. I'm sure it's years of no-deadlines-in-school or someone patting them on the head and making vague noises about how not being able to be places on time is a type of learning disability has contributed.)

(And I don't know, maybe being chronically late is now a protected disability. But here's the thing: I know people with disabilities who managed to overcome them and be functional (more than "functional") adults. I know both a minister and a man who owns a successful computer business who have dyslexia. I have friends who cope with ADD. And they manage. They hold down responsible jobs. Sure, it may take more effort on their part for someone like me who has no trouble reading and who can usually focus on stuff pretty easily - BUT THEY DID IT. It's not IMPOSSIBLE. And that's what frustrates me about some of the people who don't seem to want to take responsibility: it is as if they have convinced themselves that it is impossible for them to do so. And so they just shut down, and give up, and accept defeat. And expect other people to take care of them.)

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