Saturday, May 2, 2009

More on Teaching

So the semester is officially over. As usual, the last day of classes signals the beginning of that moment in every teacher's life when you start to get the "can-I-hand-in-the-final-essay-later-please-I'm-begging-you" emails. I expect about 80% of my students to ask me for an extension. The administration knows this too, which is why we often receive messages imploring us not to give in to such requests.

I have to say, though, that I have no problem granting extensions to my students. Of course, it must be much easier for me to do this than for many other teachers since my classes are generally small. If I had many more students in my class, I would still try to work the extension into my schedule, or, alternatively, avoid the final paper altogether.

I do realize that many of the excuses my students offer as the justification for requesting the extension are not true. Yesterday, for example, the whole student body engaged in an enormous drinking bash. Today, several of my students wrote to say that they got sick and can't finish the essay in time. We all know the name of that particular disease, don't we? Still, I don't feel it's my place to castigate them for this. Shit happens. How would it help them to write a good essay if I force them to write it in a state of a massive hangover?

It also makes me feel very uncomfortable to have this power over my students. They are so worried about their papers, final dates, grades, etc. I can only imagine how some profoundly unsatisfied professor can enjoy torturing the poor students. I hope I never get to the point in my career where I will feel the need to make the students suffer in order to feel better about my life.

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