Since I Know My Students Probably Won’t Be Reading This. . . . .

December 3, 2009

Note: If you aren’t a student, please pass this advice along to someone who is. Here’s a major big time very important please-listen-to-me-I-really-mean-it hint from a teacher. If someone like me—a teacher—tells someone like you—a student—to read something, you probably should do it, although most teachers accept the fact that students often do not read assigned materials and we are somewhat resigned to this reality. It does not make us happy, though.

If that same teacher tells you multiple times in multiple ways, verbally and in writing, that you should read something, you really truly absolutely positively ought to do it. You should probably take the content seriously too since we usually don’t keep emphasizing things that don’t matter. Read. Unless, of course, you are part of some small-yet-effective conspiracy dedicated to driving a particular teacher crazy. If that’s the case, go ahead, don’t read the stuff.

I am exaggerating a bit for effect. There is nothing like a bit of hyperbole to get the writing juices flowing. Nevertheless, there’s a feature on a blog that allows the writer to see how many times a particular post has been accessed. There is one that I wrote, “The Write Stuff,“ that I assigned to my students. This post features common errors in graduate students‘ writing and rather than print it for everyone, I wrote about it in a blog and asked that students read it and purge their writing of related problems.

It’s the end of the quarter and work is rolling in and I can tell from access numbers that not all of my students have read this post. I can also tell because these same errors continue unabated in some of the writing. Fortunately, I am also experiencing the joy of knowing that many students are paying attention to my hints. We teachers take our thrills where we can get them, and you probably won’t be surprised to hear how heartening it is to imagine that our advice is actually heeded sometimes.

I love my students this year. Really. I’m not just saying this. I’m fortunate every year because I get to work with people who want to be teachers. They’re a special breed always because of their motivation for being in school and their commitment to their success and the success of their students. I’m especially enjoying this year’s group. I’m blessed by their enthusiasm and their willingness to participate and their thoughtful work. These are things that teachers love. I look forward to meeting with my classes every week. I missed seeing my students when I was out of town. I’m delighted that I will have them in class again next quarter. So why am I griping? I guess I can’t have everything, can I?

But I still wish they’d all read the darned post.

What should you be doing that you haven’t gotten around to?

Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.
• Gordon R. Dickson


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