Friday, December 12, 2014

"How dare you"

I got an e-mail from a student in my class that has an explicit attendance policy (as in, more than x number of unexcused absences* and you lose points). It was effectively, "How dare you give me a D because I have so many absences!"

Okay, I admit it: I kind of hate attendance policies. These students are allegedly grown-ups, they should be able to decide or not whether to come to class. And frankly, almost always, it comes out in the wash: the people with crap attendance wind up failing because they don't participate and they don't get important information. (And their motivation generally is poor; I don't know if poor attendance causes poor grades, or if the two are merely correlated, and people with poor attendance don't care about their education, and so, earn poor grades). And it's a big effort for me to keep track of as many as 80 students, their comings and goings, why they're not here, etc. I'd rather just dump the policy and say, "If you skip and you fail, it's on you. We told you you could not do well if your attendance was poor." but this is a gen-ed class and it's expected that we keep track.

(Also, there are rumblings that because 0.01% of the students on financial aid scam it, we may be required to take attendance - to require attendance - in ALL our classes ALL the time, and even perhaps report DAILY who is absent. Oh, why don't we just microchip the students, or put house-arrest bracelets on them? That would be a lot easier....)

(* And I am pretty generous about what I excuse: illness, even without a doctor's note - I tell people if they are reasonably sure they're contagious, DON'T come to class. Kid's illness. "got called into work at the last minute" if I get documentation. Funerals (I don't generally ask for documentation because it makes me feel like an ogre to, but most students bring a bulletin to show me). Jury duty. National Guard duty, though it's been a while since I had a student in the National Guard. Sports stuff, if I have a note from the coach.)

I don't know, though. I don't like the "how dare you" tone (the student did not say that, but it sounded that way from how the e-mail was worded). Their grade stands because there are RULES and the students know the rules, they read them and are told them on the first day of classes. In the workplace, there are rules, and people can get fired for excessive absenteeism.

But, gah, the entitlement mentality of some students; I've seen it in spades this semester - ranging from people hinting that they'd like me to e-mail them to remind them when their exams are (Surely, surely, there is an app where you can set up an auto-reminder? Or do like me, and write it down on a big calendar than hangs on your wall, and check the calendar?) to people telling me to e-mail them "everything they missed" on the day they were absent. (Meaning: Give me copies of your notes. Okay, kiddo, you ready to do a brain scan? 'Cos that's where my "notes" are these days.)

Oh, I had some wonderful students - I always do. But it's the snowflakey ones that eat up my time and that make me roll my eyes.

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