7.5.07

WHY IT MATTERS. Rate Your Students receives a referee report.

My freshmen and sophomores don't understand anything about what it is I'm trying to do. How do I know? Because 10 years later, many of them come back and tell me. "I thought you were just some hardass," one former student told me. "We absolutely hated you and thought you were dumb as a post," another told me last year. "It didn't hit me until I was in grad school how much you did for me."

And I could list twenty more in a minute. Students fight me and hate me and think I'm a forgetful fool who is somehow so dense that I can't make their class easier and more fun. And when they become seniors and grad students, or when they go into industry, I hear from them. "I'm so sorry, Dr. K------," [a different Dr. K+6 -- Ed] one of them wrote. "I wish every professor had given a damn to make me work so hard. I told everyone I knew NOT to take your class, and now I feel like I made a terrible mistake."

I have not drunk the "student as consumer" Kool-Aid. And I know that offering huge doses of low-impact edutainment may raise the "pleasure" of my students for that semester, but that in the end it does nothing for their long term understanding or education.

The thing is, I don't worry about my evaluations because I know that it will be a few years before my students realize that I was doing ALL of it for them, to make them better, smarter, and more able to contend.

18 year old kids are fun, great, and I love seeing a new group each year. But they don't have any idea what I'm doing. Not yet.

Left unstated: there are more productive things to do than send anonymous whinges to Rate Your Students.

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