Contra Mozilla

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Today's Physical Science Fueled Rant

There would be many more of these, but the d@--! physical science class uses up almost all of my free time. Really, it's the same 2-3 students who suck up most/all of my time outside of class.

I hold office hours for an hour each day, but what's the point of specifying these? The students just show up whenever they feel like it. Then, they start asking questions. Normally, I would encourage this kind of behavior, but these are not worthwhile questions. They are more akin to, "can you do my homework for me"/"please pre-grade my lab reports"/"please spot-check my work line by line and step by step for me!" questions. This is not a good use of my (or their) time, and it's been this way virtually every afternoon since the stupid class started last week.

I've taken to scheduling made up meetings so that I have an excuse to leave after class, among other times. I'm going to implement a request of my wife that she call me at 5:00 sharp each day so that I have a way of getting out of my office hours then and not at 6:00 or later. Kicking students out or telling them to come back later accomplishes nothing.

Today, I spent two hours explaining to a college student how to add, subtract, multiple, and divide simple fractions. It went something like this:
"What is (1/4)/4?"
"Uh, 1?"
<proceeds to explain using pictures and pies>
"Oh, so it's must be /16."
"Yes. Let's try another one. What is (1/3)/2?"
"Uh, 2/3?"

Now, to be fair, I also spent time doing other things. Such as, for example, reading entire passages from the textbook, passages which were assigned reading, because he wanted a verbal statement of Newton's Laws of motion. The reading the passages was when I gave up stating the laws verbally, only to have him say, "Wait, I only wrote down the first three words, what was the next part. Ok, what was that 6th word?"

This character is doing better than most of the others in the class. I fear the blowback from the horrible reviews which I will receive when I fail 2/3 of the class. This is worse still, because if I continually receive bad reviews, I can expect not only to have to explain myself to the tenure committee, among others, but also to lose a lot of money (perhaps $10k or more, if the result is very low enrollment in certain of my classes). Yet, unless the class as a whole improves, failing the lot of them is the right thing to do.

To end all of this on a slightly more positive note, I suppose that if mys students finally learn how to do fractions, then they did get something from my course. It's not what they're supposed to get, or what I'm wanting for them to get out of my class. And it's a damning indictment of our pre-college (and frankly, college) level education. Bu I suppose that they will have learned something, and it's better 5 or 10 years (or even 15 year--a lot of these students are non-traditional age-wise) late than never.

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