Archive for April, 2014

Anyone who teaches at a university knows the insanity that comes at the end of the semester. Students who have been putting things off all semester suddenly realize they have made mistakes, don’t have the time to finish, and think that somehow they deserve special exception.

This is everyone else’s fault but mine.

My pedagogical philosophy is that I can’t care more than the students. It’s also that my students are adults, and should be treated that way. I don’t do flexible deadlines. I don’t do special exceptions. I have a policy in my syllabus for that. If students want a special exception, they have to do an additional assignment. Not one that I give them; one that they propose to me. It needs to be of equivalent work to whatever they want an exception for, and it needs to require them to practice skills from the course. I don’t think it’s unreasonable. And yet, I still get these:

“I know the syllabus says I can only miss three classes, and I know I’ve missed nine. Does that mean I’m going to fail?” yes it does. “Can I do an extra assignment to make up for them?” You can do an extra assignment to make up for each of them. “Well, that’s too much work.”

“We haven’t done this section of the assignment. Is that okay?” No. Do you think a surgeon could get away with not stitching up a patient?

“We haven’t finished the assignment that’s due in an hour. Can we have more time?” No. I think the last five weeks have been plenty.

“I’m sorry I didn’t put as much effort into the last paper as expected.” You never handed anything in. “Does that mean I’m going to fail?” yep.

“I didn’t hand in my paper or any of the drafts. Am I going to fail?” yes.

 

Now, sometimes I get good students. Like the one who ‘didn’t put as much effort’ into a paper. I told him he was going to fail. He said “Can I write a second paper with the same requirements and hand them in with the final paper?” Yes. That you can do. Absolutely.

He didn’t complain. He didn’t make it all about him, or try to give me a sob story. He just followed the policy in the syllabus. And when I said yes, he said “Thank you.”

Because I’m not looking to fail them. I don’t WANT to fail anyone. I want them to do well. I’m a teacher; that’s my job. If they learn, I’ve done my job. If they don’t learn, then I haven’t.

But I can only care as much as they do. If they won’t do the work, I can’t give them the grade. That just wouldn’t be fair.

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