Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Best" is relative

At the beginning of the term, "doing my best" meant being on top of my readings, working on assignments and papers well in advance of when they were due, and thinking through my term papers.  Slowly that faded until "doing my best" became skimming papers on the bus, finishing assignments the night before they are due and procrastinating on those term papers.

Now?  If I print the articles and bring them to class I'm doing better than 1/2 the students. Some of my assignments are getting more than their fair share of attention, and others are being neglected.

So that makes me remember that all things are relative. 

This stuff is relative for me and it will be for my students. The class I teach them will compete for attention with their other classes, sports events, and their favorite TV show.  Do I have the right to expect more of them than I am giving my teachers?  Or is that one of the egotistical traps that teachers can fall into? 

Is it ever reasonable to demand to be at the top of their priority list? 

Is "best" what should be expected from students, or is "good enough" ok?  Is that what we should all aim for?  Or is achievement relative in that it will be some percentage of expectations?  So - if we started to expect less, students would do even less.  So then is it the role of the teacher to be that egotistical figure, acting as if his class is the most important thing in the universe, demanding to be the highest priority????

Maybe I'll just "do my best" and hope that the level I end up at meets other people's expectations for my best...

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