Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Doesn’t anyone on this blog remember what it was like to be an undergrad?
Don’t you remember the excitement of being on your own, the fascination that came from time to time when you had a lightbulb moment in class, the realization that you could eat whenever and whatever you wanted? (Until you gained the Freshman Fifteen.) And what about That Event, the thing that suddenly showed you why you had to stop sleeping through class and trying to scrape together last minute poor excuses for homework? The thing that ultimately led you to grad school and teaching?
I cannot understand why you take plagiarism personally, or skipping class personally, or sleeping during class personally. I remember having to choose between a paper or working a shift, and being dead jealous of all my friends who could go out. Sometimes I went with them and winged it in class. I never made those choices because I thought my female profs were too female, or other profs were too short, or whatever you guys are so nervous about. (Although I was suspicious of the flustered prof who seemed unfamiliar with their (sic) subject.)
As a teacher, I give extensions if a student is willing to ask before assignments are late. I give as many excused absences as they want, as long as they contact me before the beginning of discussion. I feel it rewards those who know they will be doing other things, rather than those who sleep in. And as a result, most of my students don’t bother lying and plagiarizing. And the few who do regret it when I remind them that all they needed to do was email me before class.
Students will always push their boundaries. They’re teenagers. It’s what they do. I don’t take this testing of the authority waters personally, and I give them second chances that don’t involve me dedicating more time. I change due dates last minute so that students have an extra 2 days to take that piece of crap and turn it into something halfway decent. I listen to the cock-and-bull story about sick grandmas and interpret them as “I screwed up, but I don’t want to just give you shit. Please let me work through this.” And as a result, instead of handing me shit, they learn a goddamn lesson. But you know what? Teaching them how to write is my job. Teaching analysis is my job. Teaching citations again and again: it’s my job.
Getting personally insulted that they didn’t follow my instructions to the letter? NOT my job.