Thursday, July 28, 2011

Entitlement 101

Ok, one short blog rant before I work on the aforementioned grant: mid-summer is not only the time for finishing up various projects but also for students to register for classes at McGill.  Actually, current students can do that in late spring, but new students get their turn now.  My monster intro to IR class of six hundred and twelve is now full, plus the 60 person waiting list.

I say this not just to brag about how wonderfully popular I am, but to set up the frustration.  I am now getting emails from students asking for me to let them into the class as their need to get in is apparently more important than the sixty folks on the waiting list.  Before we had a waiting list system, these emails were understandable.  Getting similar emails for my other class, which is a senior-level class that does fulfill graduation requirements and where the students really do need the class to graduate that term, is understandable.  Still not much I can do since the folks on that waiting list have similar issues.  But for an intro class?  Sorry, but we have another intro class in IR that is more focused on economic stuff that serves as an equally good prerequisite for the other classes.  And there is always next year. 

Of course, I understand that my willingness to teach the huge class means that I accept all that comes with it--the management problems of having a big team of teaching assistants, the ten percent problem (that in any class perhaps 10% of the students cannot follow instructions which means about sixty for this class), the joyful lack of grading I have to do, and so on.  With great power comes great responsibility.  I love teaching the class since the topic is fun to teach and the students have heaps of interest.  So, I really don't mind the negatives that come with a massive class that much.

To be clear, I do love McGill students, who tend to be less entitled than those elsewhere (even if I whine about it again and again).  But I really don't want to be thinking about them until September.  I don't have summers "off", a phrase that drives most profs bonkers, but I do have summers off from undergraduates (graduate students are a year-around joy/plague).

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