Monday, December 8, 2008

Dead Day is for TEACHERS!!!

   All students think that Dead Day is for them. It's not. It is for US - the teachers! The weary souls who are tired of calculating your grades so you can figure how much you can slack off on the final and still keep your scholarship that you probably don't deserve. (****Remind me to put explicit instructions on how the students can calculate their OWN grades in my next syllabus. This is getting old!)

    Today in the hallway, I had a brief but very meaningful talk with a co-worker who I admire deeply. She is a veterinarian by training, but now she teaches anatomy and physiology where I work. She is very smart, highly efficient, and a very warm and genuine person. I strive to be like her.

    I can't remember how the conversation started, but it didn't take long for us to stand face-to-face in the hallway, rapidly confessing our awareness of how much our students hate us. Our classes are difficult. We try to challenge them, and we attempt to instill a sense of respect for the sacrifices that were made by the scientists who have increased our knowledge and understanding of the physical world we live in. In return for our efforts, we receive animosity. Our students think we are punishing them, undeservingly. The truth is, they are so accustomed to an uneventful, unchallenged lifestyle that they can't distinguish between rigor and petty meanness. I know this because they respond with petty meanness. They are disrespectful in the classroom. They do not ask to speak before they blurt out something in class. They have to be told explicitly what to study, or they will do poorly on the tests.

    Today, I graded an anatomy lab practical from my class. The class average was a 41. Horrible. And I knew it was going to be that bad, because I didn't hold their hands during the TWO lab periods they had to fully dissect their rats and identify all the major organs. They all left during the first hour of the lab. And I didn't stop them. One girl didn't come to lab at all that day because she had to "go shopping for Homecoming." That same girl put down "anus" on the test for the rat's scrotum. And, she had the gall to ask me if I was going to curve the grades!

    In honor of rats everywhere, I said, "Uh, no."

- TEA, Monday night, Dec 8, 2008