Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On treating adult students like adults

So, as an permadjunct ( I have a "real job" in my industry on a career / full time basis) teaching a service statistics course, I have two distinct categories of students. The first category is the one that I have long taught - non-traditional age, taking classes at night adult student, and the emerging second category is the traditional age student.

As my college evolved into a nascent university, it has adopted a growth pattern towards that of a traditional university - snowflakes, football, greeks, yada yada yada.

My long-term style has been streamlined, treat them like adults pedagogy - minimum coddling, heavy reliance on active, student-driven learning, with heavy emphasis on instructor-led student responsibility for their own damned learning.

In short, I'm one of those Anatoli Boukreev-style mountain guide types, not the kind who will strap you on and carry you to the top. I will guide, I will demonstrate, I will advise - but I will not coddle, spoonfeed or otherwise enable snowflake behaviour.

My better students appreciate the approach, the others whinge about the obsolete stuff that they need to outgrow before hitting their major/upper division work. It helps to actually explain to them the approaches and the rationale behind them.

I'm lucky that my Powers That Be give me the freedom to not act like a babysitter.


  1. Huzzah! I was just in the middle of composing a post about my angst at not being able to find an adult among the 18-22yo set. I share your philosophy on teaching and I am inspired by your post. When I wake tomorrow next to an empty bottle and put on my least dirty clothes before staggering off to school, I will pursue my quest to churn out responsible citizens with renewed vigor!

  2. somebody somewhere at your college will make you feel like you're wrong for doing this...don't let them.

  3. I simply don't have the freedom to do this. I get called into the chair's office if I try. I do teach online as well, and those students tend to be older and, with them, I can use an approach more like yours.


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