Thursday, August 18, 2011

Serious students, yay.

For the first time ever here, I'm teaching the bio-majors introductory class. (Normally I teach the non-majors intro class, but because of the clustermuck with the instructor last year, and our inability to find someone willing to teach for chump change (at an adjunct level), I wound up teaching it).

I don't have any non-majors classes this semester.

I'm blown away by my intro majors. They're so POLITE. They're so engaged. They ask questions. They give a crap. I've already had people e-mailing me with questions about stuff (in lots of cases, the non-majors students wouldn't ask, and then would complain that I "never told them" anything about whatever it is). The majors may demand more of me than the non-majors did, but if they THANK me after I help them (and they do), well, then I'm more than happy to keep doing it. (I would even if they didn't thank me, but how much more pleasant the task is when the person is pleasant about it.)

I figured it was going to be good when, on the first day, after running through the syllabus and everything, I said, "Okay, let's start on Chapter 1" and more than 3/4 of the class pulled out notebooks and pens to take notes. (A lot of these folks are potential pre-meds, and this is the "weeder" class....but the fact that they seem to be taking responsibility for learning impresses me. I also had a student ask me today if I "tested heavily on definitions" and I said yes, I did, and he said, "Cool, thanks.")

I think there are a lot of people in our culture who don't thoroughly grasp just how important those little words are - please, thank you, excuse me, and so on. I was raised to use them and I've noticed over the years that sometimes a grumpy shopclerk or waiter becomes a little friendlier when you use them with them. And I know I am more eager to help someone next time if they thanked me after the first time.

I know we shouldn't EXPECT those words, we should do good without being rewarded - but golly, it's nice to hear people say "thank you" when you help them. (And because I know this, I make a point of saying "please" and "thank you" to people myself.)

I hope the trend I'm seeing in my students this semester continues.

1 comment:

profmondo said...

I hope the trend migrates to Mondoville as well. Actually, politeness isn't usually a problem here -- even the dullards are typically good-natured.

Not long ago, the Spawn and I were at a restaurant, and I thanked the waitress who refilled our water glasses. The Spawn said later, "I like that you're nice to people, even when you don't have to be." One of the better compliments I've had lately. Like the beer at Delta House, politeness "don't cost nothin'."

But I sure could use some serious students.