Yes, They Have No Shame

As I was whinging to O’ Mama this afternoon over lunch about the abysmal performance of some (okay, most) of my students this afternoon, she suggested a blog post title of “Have They No Shame?”  I decided, though, that I wasn’t up for the sarcasm and figured I go with the bald truth.  They have no shame; a fact which several of them reinforced in me today.

Today was the next-to-last day of class.  Half of the class were expected to present their persuasive essays and speeches today – speeches and essays for which I passed out detailed rubrics and standards, mind.  Speeches and essays whose topics were supposed to be cleared through me prior to their beginning their research (a concept which, given the representative speakers’ performances today, I find caustically laughable, by the way).

Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that the six students who presented did not offer anything even remotely resembling a persuasive effort – no one researched decent arguments, no one bothered to articulate the argument or present the opposition’s case, no one asked the audience to change their thinking or called their listeners to action.  Let’s not even think about that for just now, shall we?

No; let’s consider that despite my repeated, loud, and gorgeously articulate exhortations to come to me with their topics and to begin their work early, no fewer than two of my students came to me – AFTER class TODAY – to ask if they could “do” their speeches on this or that (and one of the geniuses decided he wanted to address a question about a judicial policy that doesn’t even exist, for crying out loud).

Because I care very deeply about the work that I do – it’s a calling for me, not a job – I am torn between wanting to throw my hands up in impotent exasperation and feeling like I’ve somehow let these kids down.  A reasonably close examination of my work this term shows, however, that I came to every class prepared, that I assigned work that was both relevant and meaningful, and that I was entirely available to students outside of class should they have needed me.  I held that door open; that a few of them stubbornly refused to go through it is entirely out of my control.

Sigh.

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6 Comments

Filed under concerns, dumbassery, failure, General Griping, rhetoric, self-analysis, student chutzpah, Teaching, That's your EXCUSE?!, Yikes!, You're kidding...right?

6 responses to “Yes, They Have No Shame

  1. When you are tempted to kick yourself for your students’ failure, hold on to this thought:

    “I held that door open; that a few of them stubbornly refused to go through it is entirely out of my control.”

  2. I didn’t post the results of the last test in my Political Science class because I gave out my blog addy in a class bulletin board and didn’t want to make someone feel more stupid than they are.

    The test was worth 160 points. I scored 154. Remember, it’s an open book test. Someone scored 50.

    There is no way that a score of 50 on an open book test can be blamed on the teacher. There is also no way that having an available teacher to refine a speech can be blamed when students are too lazy to even try.

    Remember, Stoopid Hurts! You have to let them learn the consequences of their inactions and make them take full responsibility for the grade they receive. Some will catch on eventually.

  3. The thing that I can’t get is that this seems endemic to the educational system these days. Sure, there were a few slackers in my class back in the day but they were the exception rather than the rule. The rest of us didn’t hold them up in high esteem.

    Now, however, it seems that doing well or even attempting to meet the bare minimum of the assignments seems optional. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand that mentality at all.

    CTG — I love that quote. I’m going to have to remember it as I’m filling in all the Fs that I’m sure are forthcoming at the end of the semester.

  4. Here’s a quote from a student on the bulletin board in my class posted today on an assignment that was due on Sunday. This is in response to the third question where we had to watch 2 videos (one on Karl Rove and one on the Florida voting cluster) and pick *any* 3 things that *we* found interesting in each of the videos. Very subjective and obviously the answer is to mainly show that you actually watched the videos. Here’s the response, 2 days late:

    “P3. When it comes to videos I don’t remember enough detail from watching them to talk intellegently on the appropriate matter of the video.”

  5. Kari

    Having been a non-traditional student and graduating college 19 years after graduating high school, I found that the majority of students in my classes (this generation) felt that they were (and are) entitled to everything.

    I even had a Monday night class where a student sitting next to me got upset because the teacher actually held class and didn’t let us leave early. Hello! We met one night a week for three hours. Just because this girl had money on Monday night football games, she thought it was inconceivable that the teacher actually held class and complained about it every time she was in class. This student missed many more classes than she ever attended and when she did show up, she left at the break. This girl signed up for this class. She could have taken another section. It was a general marketing class that was offered multiple times in each semester. I could better understand her point of view if this were a class for your major that is only offered once a semester (I know those didn’t always fit well in your schedule and you had no choice about it). But this wasn’t one of those classes.

    The attitudes of these kids constantly amazed me and made me fear for the future of our country. These kids will one day be the leaders that younger generations look up to. That is one scary thought.

    I’m sorry your students don’t follow the rubrics. I can’t believe that your instructions are that hard to follow if they would actually take the time to read them.

  6. This same situation happened to me with my 8th graders a few months back. (Do they ever grow up?) It was THE END. We had just enough time in class for speeches to be on the date the students were assigned, yet 3 students thought maybe they could go the last day. NO TIME! It’s OVER. The only extra time we had was the wasted time the SECOND TO LAST day when those students who were suppose to give their speeches didn’t deliver. It certainly does make you want to bang your head.

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