Sunday, October 25, 2015

Students who don't give a crap: Steve Cain I understand you now

In the 1980s I did an apprenticeship in radio/electronics at the Defence Technology and Science Organisation (something like that - DSTO) in Salisbury. It was a godsend for me, but I didn't like it much at the time.

So I wasn't much of a catch when I went out on placements in my second year of the apprenticeship. I was too interested in reading Jason Bourne books (yes - books back then), training martial arts four times a week and the regular - girls. I suppose I have always had a survival technique that my heart lies elsewhere - and the "elsewhere" sure as hell wasn't the Communications workshop at DSTO.

So as I wound up my placement in the Comms workshop I remember the foreman debriefing me:

"You didn't really try, did you? You did enough to get by, but nothing too much more. You weren't here early, you weren't committed to any job we gave you. Based on that I'm just gonna tick the middle row of boxes. You could've done better but you can't really complain about what you've got here, right?"

Steve Cain, my respect for you grew ten feet on that day. And I began to develop an inkling of self awareness - the smart arsed 19 year old I was.

Uncanny that I am using Steve Cain's line - word for word. And I have a bunch of "participation" marks to award soon. I'm not angry - I don't care that you don't give a shit about the courses I'm paid to teach you. I'm just a little tired. I know you're clever and that you have better things to do. And to to good ones - I am so grateful that you can at least pretend to engage that you'll probably get a 10.

To all - you will raise my ire if you've just been "phoning it in" all semester and you're harshly demanding special meetings and extra consideration. Life just doesn't work that way. I've never told a student to "bite me" but there's still time.