“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela
It is exciting when we educators create and disseminate the tools to enable out students to succeed! We are eager for them to enjoy learning new content, to enlarge their vision of the world and to uncover their hidden talents via our course. Our intention is for them to have every available opportunity to prepare, plan and provide their best quality work! This drives us to provide clarity and communication to make their tasks as well defined as possible. What is required, when it is required, how it should be submitted, where it should be submitted, how it will be evaluated and graded, when it will returned to them, etc., are all important details that we want them to have by the start of the course! Thus, they will be able to plan ahead to achieve all of their academic goals in conjunction with all of their other responsibilities throughout the course term.
We are in a constant improvement process to enhance and improve our syllabus, assignments, instructions, class communications, etc., to make them clearer and more comprehensive. Ideally, our students will be able to use these documents as guides to ensure that they understand all of the requirements and are meeting their own individual academic goals.
The most pristine and powerful documentation is useless if it is not accessed. The deflating reality is that in some instances our students decide not to read the documents that we worry so much about (in terms of making them better and more effective for our classes). A great novel that is never read by a student is not a great novel for that student. The same principle applies to our class content.
We educators lament, “The answer is in the syllabus. Why don’t they read the syllabus that I provided to them instead of asking me a question that I have already answered?” We lose perspective in that instant and selfishly focus on all of our labor, our love of the course content, our intense effort to create documentation for make their lives easier. We must step back and accept and respect the choices that our students make in their own lives. Some students read nothing in the entire class (no assignments, no syllabus, no instructions, etc.) and earn grades that satisfy their individual needs. Some students read everything provided in class and have skill deficiencies that prevent them from earning their desired grade in the class. No matter what choices the students make [...]