Aunt Pythia’s advice
I’m here in Nebraska at a conference for undergraduate women, already late to the morning session, so we’re going with a speed round of advice this morning. Apologies for the shallowness.
First, let’s review last week’s advice you helped out with:
Dear Aunt Pythia,
I was one of those kids who when asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” said “Errrghm …” or maybe just ignored the question. Today I am still that confused toddler. I have changed fields a few times (going through a major makeover right now), never knew what I want to dive into, found too many things too interesting. I worry that half a life from now, I will have done lots and nothing. I crave having a passion, one goal – something to keep trying to get better at. What advice do you have for the likes of me?
Forever Yawning or Wandering Globetrotter
Can something as vast and as complex as the universe ever be reduced to the scope of human mental capacities, or are there natural limits to what we can know?
There are definitely natural limits to what we know, but even more to what we wonder about.
If you could make any robot, what would it do?
Robocop: It would be an Alf-like character sitting in the corner and making wise-cracks.
I teach statistics and find myself often getting frustrated and angry at my students. They don’t want to do any work, but they all expect A’s anyway. They seem to think that blessing me with their presence (although certainly not their attention) is enough. I lay it all out for them at the start of the semester, yet still have a line of whiners out the door 3 months later when their grades reflect their ACTUAL level of effort and understanding. How should I handle this frustration? Am I just not cut out for teaching?
Universities would be great without all the students
Two suggestions. First, be very precise on the first day about your grading policy and expectations for the class, and tell them it’s fixed. This avoids future people whining about turning stuff in late (of course you might have a policy about turning stuff in late but in that case hold firm to it).
Second, keep in mind that as young people and as Facebook users, these kids are used to having different personas in different places in their lives, and use that fact to
manipulate influence them in your class. Which is to say, talk about how awesome they are and how hard they work, and how you know they know they can’t learn this stuff without working hard, and you know they’re up to the task.
A good strong dose of early positive encouragement prevents a lot of later negative reinforcement in my experience.
Of course, there will always be students who just don’t do the work for one reason or another (if it’s because of a serious problem, and if they have a doctor’s note, please be kind). In that case refer to the very clearly spelt out rules and don’t give it a further thought.
It’s also possible you aren’t cut out for teaching. If you have a visceral reaction against being encouraging to students then that’s a sign. If so, please do everyone a favor and get out.
For you guys, have fun with it!
Dear Aunt Pythia,
I need a pie crust recipe and a personal lubricant recommendation. Please try to incorporate lard into both answers.
Apple Pie Seductress
And please submit questions, thanks!