Sunday, March 10, 2013

Time; Don't Waste It

What should students do when teachers don't teach?

I don't mean they never teach. I mean, lots and lots of class time is wasted. This is happening right now in two of my classes.

In my Public Speaking class, the teacher arrives on time and starts class promptly at 8am. We get out of there by 8:30! I am paying for a full hour and fifteen minutes of instruction, but I'm getting a measly half hour.

This is also happening in Graphic Design 3. Sometimes, we have projects to work on independently, so it's not applicable for those days. But some days, we have nothing to do until the teacher deigns to give us his time. This is usually 20-30 minutes after class was supposed to start. There are also times like Tuesday when everyone hung out on facebook for close to an hour while the teacher wandered around, sat in his office, chatted before he finally started class.

I don't mind some down time, but class time is time I'm paying for. It is time I will be making payments on for years to come. It is time I am not with my children, not helping James earn our living. It is time specifically set aside for learning, specifically for being taught.

I think it is disrespectful for teachers to waste my time. When they lecture, I listen. I take notes, I ask questions to make sure I grasp the material, I read the assignments, I do the projects. My GPA is proof of my hard work and dedication. That is how students show respect to teachers. (In addition to addressing them respectfully and being polite, etc. of course.)

It surprises me that more of my classmates don't seem to have a problem with this. They seem to just be glad he's not making them do anything. I suspect those people won't value their time until they start getting the student loan bills. I've seen them, so I know this is no joke.

Students who pay as much as we do in the US for college should demand rigor. We should demand assignments, direction, critique, academic challenges, etc.

What do you think? Do you think I should just be happy that my degree will be easier to attain?


15 comments:

  1. Basically you can either file an anonymous complaint, or you can use the downtime to work on homework or something constructive to give you more time when you are at home. It is very frustrating. I write song lyrics.

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    1. Don't censor yourself for my readers, James. Be you.

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    2. I was too slow, now I am curious what the comment was.

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  3. I say the value of a degree lies more in how much you learned to obtain it rather than the quantity of hours you put in. You can't do much about a teacher's style except not take them again if you feel they are wasting your time (or give them a bad grade on ratemyteacher or whatever that site is). To draw attention to it is asking for all sorts of trouble from peers and the teacher his/herself. All you can control is how much effort you put in and I think you put in 100%.

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    1. Unfortunately, in a program this small, we have no choice. I will have this teacher again. In fact, I may not have any teacher other than this one!

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    2. Josh, I respectfully disagree.

      A teacher's regular negligence of basic instructional duties doesn't really qualify as a stylistic difference. His or her job description, I'm sure, doesn't include "spend half an hour or more of class time avoiding instruction."

      Also, the option of not taking classes with an instructor again isn't really an option in a school as small as the one Lily goes to, with an art program that only has 3 or 4 teachers.

      Further, there's nothing wrong with drawing attention to yourself when you're standing up for your basic rights. As a student, Lily and her classmates have the right to expect at least a full class period of instruction, even if it's not "good" instruction, even if the teacher has a questionable style.

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    3. And see my response below, but I agree with you in theory. I just think this is one of those "how things should be" vs. "how they really are" deals. I one hundred percent concur that people should do the jobs they are paid for. But the relative difficulty of "taking one's business elsewhere" in this case makes one's options limited in regards to how to respond to such lax practices.

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  4. I agree. Nothing makes me more upset that paying to take a class that I get no instruction in. It's irresponsible. If one cannot or will not teach then one has no business in the teaching profession. Give the job to someone that might use it!

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  5. Anyway you look at it, it's a rip off.

    As a student, it's justified to demand that your teachers do their job to their full capabilities. I doubt anyone would argue against that.

    You could also look at it as a consumer. In this case, since, as you pointed out, you're paying for your time there, you have every right to demand that you get your money's worth. If you "buy" a class (the quotes are actually unnecessary as purchasing an education is exactly what you're doing) then the least the teacher can do is teach the class.

    These teachers need to be held accountable for their negligence.



    http://jameswesleynichols.blogspot.com/

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    1. I can tell you from stuff going down at [a local to which I have inside information] right now, colleges don't give much of a crap about customer service. Especially once they have your money. You can ask for the teacher to be more efficient but there really isn't a penalty for them if they aren't. Leaving a program over a teacher would probably harm the student more than the teacher and I think the administrations are aware of this power imbalance (especially where tenure is involved).

      I mean, really, when you get all the way down to it...are you there to learn artistic skill (although I'm sure the focused practice time has helped you hone those skills) or to network and learn how to get jobs using the skills you already have? Mandatory classes that have nothing to do with the major feel like the biggest waste of time to me. They claim it is so you can have "a well-rounded education" but it is really about squeezing a few more bucks out of you and keeping you there longer.

      I agree with James, in a perfect world, one could ask the teacher to earn your money. Realistically, it would probably take a majority of the class being upset (or at least a very vocal minority) to affect real change.

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  6. I had a teacher kind of like this last semester in my religion class. He spent a lot of time rambling or engaging in stupid arguments, then when the tests arrived there'd be whole sections of things he never covered.

    I made it a point to use the things he mentioned as a jumping off point to do my own study. I got an A+ in the class.

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  7. I found the same thing at Upstate. I had a teacher whom I adored, but who wasted so much class time. She would come in to the recital hall some days, sit down, and say, "I don't feel like teaching today." I always said something about it in her evaluations. Unfortunately, the students almost appreciate it. They appreciate the break. I never had a teacher at Umass Lowell who gave us a day off. There was a curriculum to get through. Maybe it's just a slow moving southern thing. I found it obnoxious. But your education is what you make of it. Asking the teacher for more challenges, or just expecting more of yourself are ways you can add rigor to your education. But I don't think I need to tell you that.

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    1. Maybe Southern standards are more lax, but these teachers are not from here. My speech teacher is from Boston and my graphic design teacher is from Ohio and went to school in Florida.

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  8. Having seen student loan payments myself, I completely agree. And honestly, even when we do have things to work on, it is annoying. If I am just sitting there working on the computer quietly with no input, I might as well be at home.

    I don't think one thing is to blame. Sure, the teachers should take responsibility for doing their jobs, but I think some of this falls on the expectation set by the school. I think that the school has relaxed standards that allow the teachers to get away with things like this. If we were at an institution that had more rigorous standards (such as faculty evaluations of professors, the head of the department taking time to hear input or pop in to class every now and then and see what's going on, etc.), it would increase productivity.

    The sad truth is that students like us, who care about this issue are in the minority and don't have much voice. Most of the students don't take their education as seriously as we do and don't have the passion about the issue to stand up and try to create change. I think the best we can do is talk about it and make known how we feel, while we also personally demand more from our class time. In the end, we are paying for a product, but as consumers, it is our responsibility to be sure we're getting our money's worth.

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