Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm right. That is all.

I am not one of those people who claim to be an expert on everything. Really, I'm not. In fact, I'll readily admit to my incompetence in most aspects of this world. But, there are a few areas where I truly am able. In fact, I would dare say able beyond average. So, when I am challenged in one of these areas, my usually calm, non-confrontational self sometimes feels a little riled. Because I am right and sometimes I get to be right.

This all happened on Friday night. As I have mentioned before, I work at a very small college. About once a quarter, we meet together as a faculty in one of the classrooms and go through some training with a lot of open discussion in an effort to glean ideas from each other and be the best faculty we can for our students. The focus of our training this time around was the "invitational classroom". This opened up a debate about justice vs. mercy in the classroom. One of the more vocal teachers announced that he felt there should be a school-wide policy regarding late work. In his own classroom, he has a zero tolerance policy and will not accept anything late no matter who dies or has a baby. His argument being that by accepting late work that we are enabling our students to be irresponsible and are not preparing them for "the real world."

I don't buy it. I've been teaching for a long time. And I dare say that I am a good teacher for at least a majority of the students who enter my classroom. I do accept late work. In fact if a student seems to be falling behind, rather than berate them, I usually ask to meet with them to catch them up. Because, the truth of the matter is, if I don't, they aren't going to be more responsible or be more ready for "the real world", they are just going to have one more reason to give up on school and one more life frustration and I don't want to be the source of anyone's life frustration.

And, now, just a word or two on the whole "real world" comment. The real world is a whole lot more forgiving than I think we give it credit for. I make mistakes every day and I depend on the mercy of those in my life. If my husband had a zero tolerance policy towards all of the things that I do that drive him crazy (and not in a good way), our marriage never would have lasted this long. I've also made plenty of mistakes through the years at my various jobs and not once have I been fired. This world is set up for humans - the unperfect.

So, I don't believe in it. I don't think it is good. I don't think it is the pathway to a world of responsible adults. No. Not at all.


Brig said...


frizzlefry said...

I think that every job I've had, there have been reasonable extensions on deadlines. Have I been punished at work for occasional "late work"? Sure. Mostly through natural consequences. But, my approach to my staff is that we do our best and work doesn't come before family and a million other things that makes life worth living.

I think you're on the right track. Sounds like the other professor is just old school.

And I bet you're excellent at a lot of stuff!

Kimbooly said...

Wow. I may link to your post, it's so profound.

Of course the ties to the mercy in the gospel are huge, too--if I felt like I didn't see mercy for a lot of my rotten choices, I would just give up because it wouldn't feel like I'd ever be worthy for any of my end goals. So why try.

In fact, I think (wait, I *know*) Satan tries to get me to think that way even now!

Shauna said...

Well said. As I tell my voice students when I'm laying down the law at their first lesson, there are always extenuating circumstances when all the rules are null and void. You keep on accepting late work. Years from now, one of your students may remember your concern as the reason they were able to get through school.

Sheldon said...

I appreciate your humanity. Seeing each of your students as a person - even a person doing the best they can with what God gave them - makes a huge difference. You are teaching students who have already made huge sacrifices to be there - who have chosen to make something more of themselves. They deserve every bit of mercy they can get. Besides, aren't they paying you to teach them? You aren't paying them to learn.

Coopers said...

I think you are RIGHT too!