Thursday, February 08, 2007

from the trenches

As is typical for this time of the semester, I have students who are ghosts - they show up on my roster, but have yet to attend a class, turn in an assignment or otherwise make themselves known.

It is a relief to tell the bureaucrats to cut them - a few less exams to grade, reports to file, homeworks to pile up.

Yet I wonder why, what happened, could it have been stopped, and my worries now carry extra weight in light of my own life. I got lost in the shuffle, in the larger world of four PhDs who forgot about me, ignored me, didn't remember that I told them I needed something. Did these folks get lost? Did they feel ignored? Or were they just so caught up in being young and foolish that they didn't belong in college in the first place? Far too may of these folks are locals - did they go home too often, watch the Colts and forget about class? IS it s local problem? An Indiana problem? Does my teaching style induce amnesia?

No Child Left Behind has left behind the best 25% and the worst 25% and focused upon the middle half who can get through, pass a test and not rock the boat. How do we teach the need to go the extra mile?


tommyspoon said...

May I be so bold as to suggest that you may be protesting a bit much? ;-)

The reasons for these "lost students" are no doubt various and sundry... and I would further posit that they have little to do with you, lemming.

Alison said...

They aren't even unique to Indiana. Last quarter I had two MIAs. They never dropped the class. This quarter I have one guy who may vanish on me, although I remain hopeful.

lemming said...

Tommy - you're correct that it's not my fault per say. At the same time, I do wonder (brood) as to where things fell apart for each of them. There are dozens of reasons why people turn into academic ghosts, only some of which can be prevented by faculty... but is there anything I could have done? I refuse to hide behind complacency.

A - MIA - great description.

Turbo said...

lemming asked "How do we teach the need to go the extra mile?"

Simple. Place a passing grade at the end of a road in the middle of a desert somewhere (i.e. nothing else around by which to be distracted), drive your students one mile away and kick them out of the car, and tell them to start walking.

harriet said...

I had a few ghosts last term. I couldn't really take it personally that as they never, as in not even once, came to class. How could they know how dull I can be? I didn't even get a chance to show them! I'm not sure that going the extra mile can or should be taught. What we can do is try to show them why they should want to.

torporindy said...

Oh, I used to be a ghost in college except on exam days.

Alison said...

Honestly, I am less distressed these days by the ghosts (also a great term for them) and more by the one or two people who show up every day, take the exams, and seem to have absorbed absolutely nothing. It cannot entirely be my fault, as they tend to be somewhat anomalous, but it's still demoralizing that I don't seem to be reaching them at all. I had one student who I tried to talk to about her failing midterm grade, but she seemed singularly unconcerned, and then proceeded to miss the next two recitations.

Is it even possible to reach a student who doesn't give a damn?

Marie said...

I have a recurring nightmare that I am called by my university telling me that I forgot to finish a class and I have to go back to school and take the class over. I never thought anyone in real life would forget to go to class......LOL. I could never have afforded that.

Drewster said...

Marie's nightmare is one that I share about grad school too.

I dream that I stopped going to a class, namely the one that I dreaded taking because it was a lot of reading and I am a slow reader. I stop going, thinking I must have dropped it, only to discover at the end of the semester that I did not drop it and I am suddenly responsible for a bunch of work.

Very often, the mare stays with me when I wake and I have to make myself remember that A) I took the class and got an A-, B) I have my degree in hand, I am all finished and done!