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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Killing the Will to Learn

Absolutely everyone has been great a out me running off to take care of Grandma, save for my instructor for my voice class. He's playing the classic role of the no accommodations teacher. I've been that teacher. I know the drill, but when I'm that teacher, I live up to the expectations I set for others. This instructor canceled my first appointment for lab, so I rescheduled for the following week. Then he asked to change again. I swapped again. Before I left on Tuesday, I asked for contact info in case I needed to cancel because my Grandma was in the ER. He gave me an email address, so I emailed first thing on Wednesday, hoping he'd see it. When I didn't hear back I sent a follow-up on Saturday. He said we'd discuss it in class on Tuesday. Tonight he said he'd waited for me on Wednesday. I said that I'd emailed early on Wednesday since that was the only contact information I had. He said I could come in Saturday to make up the lab, but I've got a site review for the wedding, a Fezzi rehearsal, and then I'm going to visit Grandma, hopefully at home by then. He said he didn't have any other options. Well, fine, then I guess I can't do the lab for the class if you're going to be like that.

The funny thing is, it really is a teacher thing. There's this level of "Do it on my schedule" that doesn't exist in the rest of the world I live in. Everywhere else there are options and time and ways to ask for exceptions. Heck, even the IRS will let you file for an extension on doing your taxes. So why is it that school is so inflexible? I used to toe that line myself. If you had to turn something in late to me, it would cost you points, or passes, or heck, maybe it just couldn't be turned in late. Why is this sort of bullying of the student so normal and expected in education? I'm sure it consistently kills the will to learn. I remember the day I had to tell one of my students (Claudia) that she'd been absent so many times she couldn't possibly pass the class. She came from a Mexican family where her mom expected her to stay home from school to watch the younger kids fairly often. It did terrible things to her education, but being told 2/3rds of the way through the semester that no matter what she did to make up work, she couldn't pass the class due to absences because of school policy certainly killed the last shred of interest that girl had in school. And she was bright. It broke my heart at the time, and I still feel bad about it now ten years later.

Anyway, gotta say, I didn't much feel like singing after that conversation. Oh well.


  • Why is this sort of bullying of the student so normal and expected in education?

    I don't see it as bullying. Call it training for the real world. Miss a birthday? Maybe someone gets upset, maybe he doesn't — there are no extensions. Miss a medical appointment? Go back again next week — if someone cancels. Miss a deadline for work? If it's a big one, you could lose your job.

    And the IRS will still charge you interest on any unpaid taxes. :-P

    By Blogger Michael, at 4:55 PM  

  • Yeah, well, my real world is way more forgiving, and has a better sense of priorities. At work, everyone said, "Go take care of what really matters." A random singing class that I took on a whim hardly rates higher than my Grandmother who has taken care of me for 35 years. And how many belated birthday cards do they sell at your local drug store, because at mine, there's a ton. In the real world, people assess the relative value of various things.

    By Blogger Ammy, at 5:24 PM  

  • My comment was addressed to the highlighted question. I do not know why you viewed my comment as an verdict on your decisions.

    Late-birthday cards are a case in point: if you are late, a normal birthday card will no longer suffice. A priest misses a wedding? He's fired by the couple. A courier fails to deliver on time? He's fired by his company. Miss a funeral? Sorry, no repeats. There are many immovable deadlines in life. That is the real world.

    It does not mean that all deadlines must be met, but learning that some deadlines are immovable is a valid part of education, as is accepting the consequences of missing them. That is why it is accepted as "so normal and expected in education".

    It is cool that your world is forgiving, your teacher excepted. No-one is suggesting that you should have done otherwise — not even the IRS. :-)

    By Blogger Michael, at 1:05 AM  

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