Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Why Do I Send Email Reminders if the Students Don't Fucking Read Them Anyway?" Keith From Kansas Joins the Party Late.

After my last class of the week, I often send a reminder email to all of my students. It's nothing breathtaking; it's just the most basic list of things that are going on in our next week of classes. I find it provides easy access to them for email replies if they have questions. Not many do that, of course, but one did today.

The email I sent:
As a reminder, next Tuesday we're going to discuss pages 320-349 of the Xxxxx textbook. And on Thursday we'll work in small groups on part 4 of the semester-long research project.

The email I got back:
Hi Dr. Keith. I don't think you told us in class what we're going to read next week. I've lost my syllabus. Could you send me the pages? And I also was wondering when we're going to work in groups again on the project. Thanks!

>From: Dr. Keith
>Sent: Friday, October 21, 2011 1:34 PM
>To: Xxxxxx, Section 190
>Subject: Next week's Reminder for Dr. Keith's class.
>As a reminder, next Tuesday we're going to discuss pages 
>320-349 of the Xxxxx textbook. And on Thursday we'll 
>work in small groups on part 4 of the semester-long 
>research project.


  1. This is why I want to use my textbooks to hit them in the backs of their precious little snowflake heads.

    I'm dealing with a similar batch of idiots myself this term.

  2. I smiled in sympathy for both sides. I have been just as guilty as your students; too damn lazy to bother to read the email I'm replying to.

  3. Yeah, I'm with Academic Monkey. At least then, the book would be used for SOMETHING.

  4. While I do still use e-mail to communicate with a few of my best students, such as grad students with whom I am doing research, I quit sending mass e-mailings to students years ago. It gives them yet another excuse to snivel, since they can claim they never received the message, and I can't prove that they did. All course information is given in class, and in writing (either written or displayed on the board or, preferably, in handouts), so I can later prove that it was shown in class.

  5. P.S. If you're going to use a textbook for that, I recommend a 2x4 with nails in it instead. That way, it won't be so expensive when it breaks. Rusty nails are preferable.

  6. Many of our students appear to read their email (if they read it at all) on smartphones with broken scroll functions. Your correspondent probably got as far as "As a reminder" (s)he ran out of patience and/or screen.

    Our LMS has an "announcements" function which seems to be popular with many of my colleagues, but about which I'm extremely ambivalent. I'm happy to send out an announcement when I need to make a change in already-announced plans, or when I get something up later than I planned (meaning they may already have looked for it and failed to find it), but mostly I just want them to read, and follow, the frickin' course calendar, without my having to constantly remind them. As Frod points out, sending them a reminder about one thing just leads them to expect reminders about everything. I'm not their mother (and if I were, I would have expected them to keep track of their own homework, get themselves up and out of the door to school, do their own laundry, and cook dinner now and then *before* they started high school, since I did all of the above by 8th grade. And no, I wasn't a terribly neglected child, just the child of a single parent who expected me to do what I was capable of doing for myself).


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