For their weekend assignment, my composition class was tasked to read a single chapter in their texts about persuasive writing. In this chapter were brief, yet very clear and easily understandable definitions of common terms and concepts used in debate and persuasion: the straw man, the bandwagon appeal, that sort of thing.
Monday morning, I brought in a pop quiz of sorts – I listed all of the terms and concepts explained in the chapter and asked them to choose four of them to explain as clearly and completely as they could.
Care to guess how that went?
What astounds me is the arrogant outrage that some of them expressed at being asked to demonstrate their knowledge of this material. Many of the students were angry at me for (I suppose) having the nerve to expect them to work – to remember the information they were asked to read and study less than a week ago.
A number of students have complained that they’re not learning anything this term – and not just my students, either. Several of my colleagues have complained to me that that their students are dissatisfied. I had breakfast with a couple of my former students last week, and they spent most of the hour and a half we were together to complain that they felt they’d wasted their time this semester.
I’m not taking responsibility for it this anymore. If my students can’t be bothered to commit the major themes of a week’s assignment to memory – assuming, of course, that they actually read the assignment – then how much more can I be expected to do for them?
I kind of bitched them out after I collected the quizzes (I haven’t had the nerve to look at them yet; I’ll grade them tomorrow afternoon and let you know how it went). I think I impressed upon them that I’m really not asking for much, and that the responsibility for the quality of their education lies a great deal with them.
It’s going to be interesting to see how their persuasive papers turned out…