Saturday, February 21, 2009
The kind of burnout you are talking about has nothing to do with teaching online. Anyone who has had to work on no matter what, as in continuing to attend to the job during a family crisis, know how this feels. So in some respects it is likely the combination of grief and the general lack of ability of students to look at an instructor and cut them some slack.
That said- here’s some harsh words from a woman who has been working forever: personal problems are personal problems whether you are teaching or working in a bank or welcoming people to Wal-mart. These days, I teach. I have a great gig. I’m full time. However, I have personal leave that I’m encouraged not to take. I have sick days that no one wants me to use. I have official office hours, but I’m supposed to hang around all day. I have only one class on Friday, but I’m supposed to be there all day and if I leave early on a Friday afternoon, everyone acts like I’m taking a holiday. So it’s not the stingy online college – it’s the reality that when we sign on the bottom line, we have sold part of our soul.
Students, snowflakes or otherwise, don’t understand this yet. Life is still up for grabs. Nothing really comes to an end for most of them if, for instance, they don’t finish an assignment. They may, or may not, flunk a class. While it will catch up with them, it is more like a pin prick as compared to having a vein opened when you lose a teaching gig or really get in trouble with a boss. Additionally, the efforts of others is nothing to them. I suspect this has a lot to do with the new idea that students are customers. Considering most of us are trying to keep our institutions afloat during an economic downturn, their rising customer status may be true. It still, in my not so humble opinion, comes back to the harsh reality that most of us are teaching various levels of the Entitlement Generation. Whether they are older EGs or younger EGs doesn’t matter. It’s all about them, everybody owes them, and nothing is important unless they are going to benefit from them immediately. They don’t know what it means to be disappointed, turned down or denied. They don’t value learning or understand why it is necessary.
I really think we ought to be able to hit them.