Sunday, September 04, 2011

Let the Whining Begin....

We've only been back to school for TWO WEEKS and I've already received my first whiny email from a student saying my class is too hard. I am not sympathetic.

I work hard to make sure my class is very engaging and that I continually tie it to real word examples to show its relevance. But I make no excuses, it IS hard. When my husband looks over the syllabus he smiles and say, "Babe, I love you but I'd drop your class."

So should about a third of those who sign up. Term after term students fail my classes NOT because they don't comprehend or can't do the work. They simply take on more than they can realistically accomplish (full time work, family responsibilities and full load of classes with no established study skills) and then blame me when I will not adjust deadlines when they find they have to work extra hours right before a major assignment is due.

I'm very clear in the beginning what my class involves and give them a detailed schedule of what is due when. I also make a big point of letting them know that anything turned in late will count half off and they only have a 4 day window for that beyond which I will not accept it at all. Do they not believe me?

I fully expect students to be feeling overwhelmed by week 7, but I've got 12 students out of 31 who are already falling behind in week 3. In talking to other faculty on campus, many of them are experiencing the same thing. A large proportion of our students sign up who just never follow through with the work. I find that a very troubling trend.

In an article on student entitlement Maryellen Weimer, PhD defines the issue as "a self-centered disposition characterized by a general disregard for traditional faculty relationship boundaries and authority” (p. 198), or it can be described more functionally: “a sense that they [students] deserve what they want because they want it and want it now.” (p. 197) "

Sadly I see increasing amounts of this, not just in my classrooms, but in society in general.

So many are concerned with their RIGHTS and what is owed to them without giving the same attention to their responsibilities. I see this as a dangerous trend that is gutting the vitality of our nation. There are so many examples....

For now I just take a deep breath and recommit to how I will communicate with my students. I will be firm but fair. I will be respectful of them and as supportive as possible. I'll work hard to keep my courses interesting and show how they are relevant to real live. But I will not budge when it comes to deadlines and rigor. Too many classes are watered down - especially when finances force schools to keep increasing class sizes. I well understand why many faculty cut back on writing assignments because they simply don't have the time or energy to grade all the work.
I'm not there yet. I'm keeping my bar high. It's exhausting at times. But I teach because it means something to me. I'll sleep when I'm dead.

The class is a pretty even split between males and females, young students just out of high school and older folks coming back after having lived some life.

Me thinks this is going to be a LOOOOONG semester. Oy veh.

1 comment:

fillyjonk said...

I'm a prof myself, so I can sympathize. I have an awful lot of students who seem to think they can have it all - that they can work full-time, go to school full-time, have a family, have a social life...and it's a rude awakening when they find they can't.

Sadly, a lot decide to slack off on the school stuff and then come and complain to the prof that it's unfair to expect so much of them.

I will say I've found that the whiners, if they try it in-class, get put in place fast by the more mature students who have twice as many things they're juggling and yet still manage.

Enrich Your Word Power!

Word of the Day
Quote of the Day

This Day in History