Attention Parents: We Are NOT A Correspondence School

Is this a Las Vegas thing?  A week never passes without a student coming into class to declare that they’ve been absent for the last two or three days, and then stare at me expectantly.  I try to draw out some civil cooperation from them by saying something like, “And…..”

Then they will usually ask for all of their make up work.  When I explain that covering two or three days’ worth of instruction, examples, and assignments will take more than the ten seconds available right before the bell rings, they tend to look put out.  My insistence that they come in before or after school to review their works irks them to no end.

Even worse is the dgeree to which we facilitate such a mindset.  My school district allows students to take a form around to their teachers that essentially says, “My parents are taking me out of town for whatever reason next week.  I’ll be gone for three days.  Please give me all my work now.”  Like most teachers, I tell them that they’ll just need to do most, if not all, of that work when they get back. 

What, don’t I plan in advance?  Of course, but this community seems to have it in their heads that school work is just a bunch of handouts that can be given and done whenever is convenient.  No thought is given for discussion, performances, participation, questions and answers in class, etc.

When the majority of “make up work” is done poorly and gets a low grade, kids seem baffled. 

Lean in closely because I’m going to whisper, OK?  This is not a correspondence school!  If you could simply fill in worksheets and get credit, we wouldn’t need school at all.  If you think you can skip a week and be fine, catching up with no real effort on your part, why not just cut to the chase and get your GED?  That appears to be what a lot of people really want.

This mentality bleeds over into college.  In those classes, especially freshmen classes, they’re indignant that I require attendance, and enforce the department’s loss of credit policy for excessive absences.  And yet, when they ditch class, they expect to turn in whatever work they want, when they want, for full credit, to be excused from assignments they weren’t here for, or to have the curriculum adjusted to be comfortable with their absences. 

I hate having to teach responsibility, but if that’s the skill they need…

Where’s the outcry from the parents?  Where’s the demand for high standards–no, adequate standards?  When we enable a lower level of maturity for our students, don’t be surprised when we end up with a society full of people who never show up for work, but who get huffy when they don’t get paid.

One comment on “Attention Parents: We Are NOT A Correspondence School

  1. I think this is an inherent characteristic of compulsory education and bleeds into college because students have never learned another way. My solution would not be to teach responsibility for meeting other people’s standards, but to teach responsibility for making choices in our lives that further our goals. Allow students to choose what they want to learn and they will be responsible about learning it. Compell them to learn what someone bureaucrat thinks is important and they will rebel, loose motivation and refuse to take responsibility. Afterall, shouldn’t someone else’s goal be someone else’s responsibility?

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