Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Source of the 10% Problem

I have ranted often about the ten percent problem: that a certain percentage of students simply cannot follow instructions.  That if I ask those who cannot follow instructions to move to a side of the classroom, they will lay down on the floor, stand on their head or do something else.  Only last week did someone suggest that I tell the students who can follow instructions to move.  Of course, that would not work either since self-awareness is not a strong suit of those who cannot follow instructions.

Anyway, I realized this is not a teenage or college student problem last week.  I attended the orientation at my Frosh Spew's school.  They had joint sessions and then the new students went off for their orientation, and the remaining folks (mostly parents but also suffering younger siblings) got to have heaps of presentations about various elements of college life.  The Q&A revealed that instruction comprehension and especially its absence is a lifelong thing.  There were more than a few parents asking questions that had already been answered, and more than a few parents asking questions that need not be asked.  Yes, some good questions were asked as not every presentation was perfect, and there is a lot of room for confusion for parents new to this process. 

Much has changed since when we were in college--a lot more resources, a lot more awareness of the complications and stresses, and so on.  But when the presenter says: if your child is over 18, then we cannot tell you about their grades or their health circumstances or their finances without a written waiver, then you don't really need to ask: but if my kid is sick, you will tell me, right?  Only if it is life threatening.  Otherwise, no, the college will not do so.  And calls from parents will be re-directed from profs to associate deans--which gives this prof another reason to believe that administrative bloat may not be all that bad. 

Oh, and one note on Canadian/American cultural differences: after ultimate last night, I was asked about my trip last week that caused me to miss the last game, and I talked about college.  The Canadians pointed out that college means something different up here--mostly technical or vocational schools.  Even as most Americans who get BA's get them from universities (size matters), they refer to it as going to college.  Which is strange given that American colleges range from junior to community to vocational to liberal arts colleges.  Canada does not really have much in the way of liberal arts colleges (there are some near exceptions). 

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