Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tuning Out

I think I'm getting a lot better at dealing with students. Usually, I teach to the 70% of them that aren't necessarily understanding everything in the lectures and are generally panicking about the class. I do have the occasional students who are so smart that they need no help at all. I try to be nice to them and otherwise let them be.

What's made the difference this semester is that I've been trying to help out the students who are struggling, but generally ignoring the ones who are ill-tempered and annoying. You see, I'm teaching the recitation for a "general education" requirement, which means that every student who goes through the school has to take the class. Plenty of them hate that. But, the ones who hate having to take the class really hate having to come to the recitation on top of it. In a sense, they're probably right. The school tacks this nonsensical recitation on to the class to try to boost the students' grades. Does it help? Who knows. Actually, I have my doubts.

But, where the students are wrong is in thinking that I have anything to do with this brilliant idea to have them sit through recitations as well as lectures. Honestly, I could care less if they show up. Alas, my job is to take roll and grade accordingly, and so I do not question why...

In my third recitation I have three young men who are angry that they have to be there, and who make their point by not taking out their books, crossing their arms and glaring at me.

I'm 31 years old. This is stupid. I ignore them completely.

The thing is, I have to give them a "class participation" grade which is 20% of their grade. So, basically, they're failing that, and seem not to have figured out that yet. I can't see any reason to believe that they would come to recitation to get absolutely no credit, but to make some stand against a TA who couldn't give a shit one way or the other that they're unhappy about this. So, probably they think that I give them some grade just for showing up. But, of course not. This is college. In a way, I feel like I should tell them, but the syllabus tells them this, and I told them this at the beginning of the class. So, what's the point?

I have no idea why people come to University with such contempt for the very idea that they should ever read a book, or listen to a lecture, or think. But, I'm starting to see it as their problem and not mine.

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