Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kunstnick: Between a rant and a thirsty.

College Misery has saved my sanity. I read it when it was RYS. Days pass at my college when I see no one but students. So, for me, this site is a nice reality check.

Today, I am not sure if I have a thirsty or a rant.

The situation: I am teaching a class of 7. An early morning class. A class that was added late in the term to ensure that I have the required course load. Oh, yes, I had 2 wonderful classes that teetered on the verge of filling but they were cancelled. I knew these students; I was prepared. I was looking forward to working with them. They were cancelled several hours before they began. Now, I have a class that started several weeks after the official start of the term. It is an early morning class. So, I assumed that a student who signs up for an 8:00 am class will turn up.

It is a disaster.

I have one student who turns up for each class. The rest float in and out. They might show for the exam, or not. I have one who has appeared for 1/ 2 the classes. Each class period, I see confused faces. Each class period features a different configuration of students. I keep going with the material, no matter who is there. I give quizzes and keep track of attendance. I envision myself teaching to an empty room. Practice, I guess.

It is an elective course. A course that some might call the history of basket weaving.

Perhaps, it is the state of the parking lot after a long day that should tell me something. Instead of walking a few feet to the garbage can, or waiting to go home, students carefully set down fast food cups, boxes, empty cigarette packs, and soda cans next to their cars. Then, they drive off. They do this in the stairwells, too. I find crushed coffee cups stuck between rail and wall, discarded candy wrappers carefully placed at the foot of the stairs.

It is an open door college. Students tell me that the courses here don't matter because they are so cheap. They have no value to them. We professors, who are trained, learned, and hard workers, are of no value. The students treat classes like they treat the campus. The few who care, who try, who want to learn are outnumbered.


  1. As a fellow CC laborer, I commiserate. The 8:00 a.m. class is actually one of the "kiss of death" times. Usually you get a few who sign up at that time because they actually want to. The rest are there because they dicked around, waited to register at the last minute, and discovered that only 8:00 a.m. or some odd afternoon time was available. Since they almost all work jobs that start at 2:00 or shortly thereafter, have kids who come home from school in the afternoons, or are still on the high school time mindset, they sign up for the 8:00 class.

    You got the worst of the worst because not only did they wait till everything was full; they also waited so long that they couldn't get into a regular term class, or they've probably been dropped from their regular term class already due to attendance.

    At least you have one you can reach, so focus your efforts there and just do the best you can with the rest. Remember the RYS mantra: Never care more about their education more than they do.

  2. Keep doing the right thing.
    Those that will stick with you
    will appreciate it.

  3. I'll tell you why I don't show up for 8 AM classes and don't take 8 AM classes where avoidable. a) I'm tired from being up to 3 AM gaming so I'm sure as hell not going to drag myself out of bed to go to a lecture that won't cover the material for the test and I'll end up reading the textbook anyways to cram everything. b) It's 8 AM. There's no sun during the winter and it's usually frigid cold too. So again am I going to drag myself out of my nice warm bed for a lecture? Nope. c) Even if I do somehow get myself to class I'll probably fall asleep while sitting within 10 minutes. So why not just cut out the middleman and stay in bed?

    Presumably you're also teaching at a community college since "open door college" is a meaningless term. EVERY college is open door. Everyone knows CC's are a joke that you basically exchange a small fee for transferable credits with no learning or studying required.

    1. Oh boy, these attitudes will serve you well when you get an 8 a.m. job in the real world, that requires actually knowing how to do things, more involved than running a fry cooker, that is.

    2. And besides, the President of the United States has now stated repeatedly he wants them to become more like vo-tech training centers. I say great, more power to them!

    3. SS is correct that students use a community college to get some transfer credits. They pass chemistry I with a C at the community college then enroll chemistry 2 at my school. They invariably fail. In the end, they can only game the system until thinking is actually required.

      Occasionally, I do get a chemistry student who attended a community college because of hard luck. Those students actually work harder to prove themselves when they get to my university. They make SS look like more of a fool than he already is.

  4. How completely demoralizing to have such lazy students. I have a 9 a.m. class with 7 enrolled and similarly: one student comes every day (he probably hasn't missed a day since first grade). The others fluctuate.
    Sometimes I have three, sometimes two, once I had just the ONE guy. I still taught to him (and gave him 30 bonus points for a pop quiz). Mine is a required class for their major, so I give quizzes, ignore excuses, and hope students start to care about their learning because I will not do that for them.

    The metaphor of the campus as their personal trash can seems to accurately reflect their state of mind.

  5. I currently have an astrophysics class much like this. We're nearly halfway through the term and we've still not done much more than review physics that was in the immediate prerequisite course, and still every one of them act as if they've never seen any of it before. None of them will ever do astronomy professionally: clearly, none of them have the brains for it.

    Still, I keep trying to do my best. At least one of them wants to be a high-school science teacher, one of them I think is a high-school science teacher, and every time I teach this course, I come to know the material better. Since I was a lad, I've dreamt of writing a book for a course like this, and with every time I teach it, I get closer to it. Hang in there!

  6. I appreciate StockStalker's presence on this blog to remind us that NO, we are not making this shit up. I know the sullen, baseball-cap-wearing, smug white dude who shuffles in late if at all, reeking of entitlement. I'm betting SS is not at a CC, and unless he's paying his own tuition, he's wasting someone's money. Hopefully not taxpayers' on a Pell Grant. He's probably inheriting dad's business, which, ideally, will fail before he gets it.

    I think Kunstnick meant "open admissions," and maybe this was not such a hot idea after all.

  7. Perhaps, what bothers me the most is that the administration created this situation. If I had been consulted, my other classes would have run and done well. Now, I am twice as tired: a new early class that is scheduled after my night course and populated by the disaffected.

    I cannot teach students who I don't know. So, I cannot really do my job.

    Student 1 and I have ncie confabs, and then a random student wanders in and the nice rapport is broken because this student appears to think I am Dr. Tivo.

    What Would Yaro Do?


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