deadlines amuse me

exploring how the world works and why it works that way …

Show up, pay attention, take notes …

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A professor friend of mine uttered a complaint that festers in most of us professorial types at this time of year as we compute final grades. My friend felt distressed because he saw so little accomplishment by his students.

Now, my friend is an exceptional teacher. My friend sought to engage students on a higher intellectual plane, expecting them to be motivated to do so. They didn’t. The collegial give-and-take among students and professor, prompted by faith in a mutual desire to learn, did not produce the results my friend had expected.

I understand that feeling, that reasonable expectation on the part of a teacher that students should provide their own motivation. After all, it’s a voluntary effort — and they’re paying for it.

Nevertheless, in my courses, the self-motivated are the distinct minority.

Yet I love teaching. I decided a few years back I would teach all comers equally — whether they learn would be up to them. I make my expectations of them — and theirs of me — clear in the first class meeting of each course. I put up an overhead before they arrive, so it’s the first thing they see as they enter the classroom:

Journalism, like life, is mostly about attention to detail, common sense and discipline.

I tell them bluntly: Those of you who understand that will do well. Those of you who don’t, or refuse to try to understand that, will likely fail this course, and probably several others.

I told my friend to fire the shot of accountability across their bow immediately in the first class. Set standards clearly and unambiguously.

If they’d only learn that so much of life is showing up, paying attention and taking notes, they’d do better in college — and after.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

May 13, 2006 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Congratulations on your award.

    ominusprima

    May 15, 2006 at 2:41 pm


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