Thursday, December 11, 2008

Choices have consequences

[bootlegged from a comment over at Terminal Degree, in response to a post about that percentage of students who, well past the eleventh hour, will try to redeem an entire semester of inadequate performance]

Yep, that's painful. But, as you say so clearly, 5 sobbed-for points can't redeem an entire semester (or 4-year program!) and its patterns of neglect and irresponsibility.

The mantra that I've taken to giving my adjuncts and junior colleagues, eminently quotable in such tear-stained situations, is

"Choices have consequences."

Which can then be expanded to "unfortunately for yourself, you have made a whole series of choices that were not in your best interest. And now, you are going to have to live with the consequences. That is difficult, but that is the reality of both college and 'real life.'"

Sometimes helps my people separate-out, for themselves and for the students, what is and is not the teacher's responsibility. You're not responsible for their (repeated) bad choices.


Terminal Degree said...

Agreed. And it's almost NEVER one grade, or one class, that sinks the ship; usually it's been steadily leaking for years. A glimpse at a student's transcript usually shows a history of irresponsibility.

Such students' actions are not my responsibility. But I hate witnessing that painful moment when they finally come face to face with the consequences of their actions.

CJS said...

Yes. It's not fun.

On the other hand, in the greater scheme of things, one of the ways we can/should bring a mature, mentoring perspective to a young person's experience is by helping them cope with said disappointment. They can't see that this is not really the "end of the world"--it's our job to help provide that more mature long-term view.