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.