December 1

It’s already December. It doesn’t seem possible. On one hand, I’m not at all ready for what December brings: the holidays, the traveling, the end of the year. On the other hand, I’m ready for the end of this semester both at work and in my own classes. I’m tired. Just tired. It’s been an interesting semester getting back into classes myself. It took me a little longer than I expected to find a routine of reading and studying that works for me. I imagine each semester will require tweaking since I won’t know what I’m getting into with my online classes and teachers I’ve never met before. I know that I’ll probably need to work a little harder than I have been as my classes progress. There have been times like the last week or so where I’ve let things slide a little longer than I should have. I now have some making up to do with the end of the semester…a few assignments are due about the same time and I’ve not invested the time I should have on them. But I know that and I’ll bust my hump to get things done and if I don’t, I know it will be my own fault. Unlike some of the students I see daily where I work. What is with the trend of students feeling that they can negotiate class work and grades with instructors? I’m constantly amazed at students who cry to their teachers that tests are unfair or that they’re getting too much homework and can they please get extensions or extra credit or make ups. Or the students who come for tutoring two weeks before the end of the semester and have no idea what the name of the class or instructor is and wonder why they aren’t passing. Regularly I hear students whine about the amount of work or the difficulty of the material but when help is offered, they don’t have time for it because it will interfere with a personal activity. It would never have occurred to me as an undergraduate student to email my professor and tell him that the test he just gave was too hard and that I deserved extra credit work. Or admit that I had forgotten about it and request a retake. And I surely wouldn’t do it now as a grad student, regardless of working a full-time job and being a single parent with a house and other responsibilities. But I don’t think I was unusual even as an undergraduate in believing that my education was mine, personally. Something I was responsible for, not my teachers. If I didn’t study, or forgot an assignment, or even just plain found something difficult, it was my problem. And I took the poor grade and figured out how to do even better next time so my final grade didn’t suffer. Or looked for help if things didn’t make sense. And then felt a bit guilty when I walked into class knowing that I hadn’t been taking things seriously. When did the change occur? When did learning become a passive activity? It’s both frustrating and frightening to see that students today (generally–there are still some dedicated students out there) feel no sense of ownership in their education. Feel that small effort should pay big rewards. How did that happen? And where else does that actually work? Last time I checked, most work environments don’t offer re-dos and most bosses don’t give extra credit because you keep screwing up. Education is supposed to help prepare students for being productive members of the real world. The real world is mostly give and take. If you can’t give something, you’re not going to get something. It seems like an easy concept and one of the basics of being a student. Do your best to get the best grade. Do hardly anything, your grade will reflect that. No negotiating. Whine and complain to the mirror because chances are, that person is responsible. I’m tired myself. I have a lot left to do in my own semester, but I’m grateful to own my education as my responsibility. It means when I do well, I have myself to thank.