School is back from the summer, and it has brought me with it. My classes are here full and brimming with anticipation. I decided to start off with a question to my students.
“Why did you step in?” Meaning: Why did you willfully transport yourself from the highway of the hall to the my way of my class? Each student must write this at the top of their paper each day, and answer it. Some answers are as follows:
“My parents forced me to be here” (this is occasionally backed up with “or I will catch a beating”)
“I want an education.””I want a good grade in this class””I want to learn something.””I want to graduate.””School is more fun than work” (that one, from a purely entertainment value perspective, is my favorite.)
These answers show a range of rationales and a smattering of bull crap. I asked the students who said they came because they wanted to learn, to raise their hands. They seemed happy to oblige. “OK. If I said, ‘I will give you guys A’s for the class and you never have to come back after today’ would you come back?” Of course (and I do appreciate the honesty) they all said no. Slay that altruistic statement of purported pursuit of knowledge.
I want self-honesty this year, for them and for me. Students see through bull crap quite well. I can easily toss out platitudes, make it rain some worksheets, and sit back and collect the big bucks. Incidentally, I told them that I do like my job and I do love the opportunity to be a part of their lives and help them develop their personal voice. I also told them that if I wasn’t paid to do these things I would be somewhere else. The truth with love.
New policy for me and maybe might work well for other over achieving slackers:
5:00 reads the watch (cell phone) and down goes the pencil/pen. Time is up. I’m in the middle of grading. Oh well. I haven’t finished my lesson plan. Oh well. I need to . . . Oh well. Oh well finally I am getting a grip on my job. If these 130 kids I have under my tutelage moved somewhere else, I would be sad that I missed out on the opportunity to know them. If my wife and daughter moved somewhere else, I would be destroyed. So how should I structure my time? I feel pretty good about my policy and more importantly I think it far better aligns with the Word of God than me schlepping papers home all the time. We shall see. If this works, it will be God’s grace, not my finesse or industriousness.