Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Recalcitrant Student, Part III

So many of my readers supported me in my struggle with my recalcitrant grad student and offered great suggestions on how to handle the situation that I couldn't leave them without a conclusion to this story. Yesterday, I finally spoke with this student's supervisor and I discovered the real reason why my course made her so unhappy. It turns out that this student was hoping to go overseas and do some missionary work and she wanted said missionary work to count in lieu of her graduate courses. Of course, that wasn't possible because it isn't how grad school works, and she was forced to take actual graduate courses. Hence, the reluctance to participate and a general rejection of me and all the activities I suggested. Also, I realize that much of the content of our course on Golden Age Spanish literature might have bothered a very religious student. This isn't something that I could have remedied because the works of art we discussed in the course have been around for centuries, and they are what they are.

It seems, however, that my patient daily e-mails to this student throughout the Thanksgiving break somehow worked. Yesterday, she finally pulled herself together and showed some enthusiasm for the course. She participated in the discussions and even smiled. I wish this breakthrough happened sooner because then the student could have benefitted a lot more from the course. I'm glad, however, that I get to conduct the last two lectures in this course in a peaceful and friendly environment.


DM said...

I've known students who took a break to conduct humanitary action in poor countries. I'm unsure now, but this may have counted among the "additional credits" that students are to take in areas not their specialty (if the goal is to open the mind, then working in Haiti or Afganistan probably fits it). However, this certainly did not count for the base credits to get a degree in their discipline.

I'm unsure of the position of this missionary, but certainly one cannot reasonably expect a university to count religious missionary work for base credits (except perhaps for a religious degree?).

Clarissa said...

Our degree is not in religion. If the student wanted to conduct some kind of research while doing her missionary work, nobody would have had a problem with that. But how can anybody expect to substitute all graduate courses in literature with that is beyond me. I mean, if you don't want a degree in Spanish literature, then don't get one.

Anonymous said...

"I'm unsure of the position of this missionary"

It happens. Experience helps