Monday, September 25, 2023
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Why should I concern myself with a student in a funk?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I teach at the university level and recently regretted some of my communication with students. The issue is twofold.

First, the students were unmotivated and came to class unprepared (or not at all). They pay a high premium to be here, and they are all adults who can choose to leave college at any time. I am baffled by their lack of involvement.

However, what really gets me is their constant stream of emails: “I didn’t feel it, so I didn’t come to class today, sorry.” “I needed a mental health day, so I skipped our discussion.” “I was too hungover, so I slept in this morning instead of coming to class.”

Finally there was this one: “I’ve been messed up all weekend, so I didn’t manage to complete the assignment on time, but can I still turn it in?” This email is the subject of my second issue.

This student has known this short assignment since the first day of class, 14 weeks ago, thanks to the syllabus. Even before this incident, she was not doing well in class. But when I complained about this email, some of my fellow instructors responded and said I should have offered her information about counseling services. (That information is also in the syllabus and is available on campus in many other ways.)



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