But I actually face relatively little of that. Just enough to remind me that it is out there.
My rather dingy little ivory (well, plaster and brick) tower is a directional state school that serves a rural corner of the lower Midwest. Many of our students drive in from the family farm or ranch. Many of them are the first in their families to come to college, and most of the rest come from families that value education. Many are returning to education after a few years in the workplace. Many have kids of their own to look after. Most have jobs. It's a blue collar town and a blue collar student population and a large fraction of them know what hard work is, expect to work for their goals, and are bound and determined to move up in the world. Every class has a student that inspires me.
Compared to some of you folks I'm living in a bygone time.
So with that in mind we move to the misery, which rises from a three ingredient cocktail.
Firstly, I use a on-line homework service. I hate that because I don't get the intimate feel for how students are doing that comes from regularly marking papers nor do I get to slowly to teach them how to write solutions. But we have no TAs and I haven't the time to mark all my own homework. Of course, on-line homewotheservices cost money. They cost the students money.
Secondly I had a student, Stoic Sally, who lives even closer to the financial line than most. And I didn't know this.
Finally, I committed a rookie mistake this term. I let the time between checking the on-line homework grades mount. And mount some more.
At the beginning of the semester, Sally didn't have the cash. So she didn't sign on. Nor did she come and see me. A couple of weeks in she figured out that she could take advantage of the free two-week trial. Of course, by then she is already three homework assignments behind, and that fourth assignment is dreadfully hard to do.
And still she didn't come to me.
But as time passed the situation got worse and worse. This course is one that builds on itself relentlessly. You have to have mastered the week two stuff to be ready for the week the stuff and so on for the whole semester.
I've been financially strapped once or twice along my journey so I can feel, in my gut, the reluctance Sally must have faced at the thought of approaching me about the cost. And I blame myself for that. I put her in that position.
But if she had talked to me, we could have worked something out. I could, quietly, mark one set of homework problems. Imyself find the time.
Then the abbreviated term is up (this course is broken into six and ten week terms to let struggling students get out with a low credit bad grade, because some come to us unprepared), and she failed the final exam and even with her nice lab reports and the good grade on the first midterm she can't move on to the second part.
So I feel like I've failed her. And yeah, she could have done something, but I don't get completely out from under the responsibility either