Missing Out

Sometimes students fail to realize that the small things can hurt them. They’ll look at a syllabus or a particular assignment and decide that it isn’t worth their time. Maybe there is an entire aspect of the class they feel they just don’t need to do for whatever reason. It won’t hurt them. They’ll do extra credit. It’ll take too much time for not enough pay off. Who knows. They somehow find a way to justify not participating in one aspect of a course or another and reason that they’re not losing anything at all and, in fact, gaining some other precious commodity: time. Sometimes the students are right. There are bad teachers out there. You behave badly at your own peril though, students. I’m exploring that today.

Sure, those one points assignments don’t look like much… but since there are so many of them you might want to consider what you’re losing if you treat them with no respect at all by not ever doing them. I’ve seen students do this recently. Maybe it’s because they aren’t interested in the class itself or the particular assignments. In the classes I deal with (arts courses) participation is a big thing. If you’re not creating and sharing art then you’re certainly talking about it in some capacity. While this may not be true in all cases (as I acknowledged above) it is certainly true in the courses I deal with.

That said: forget about the points for a minute. Yes — you’re going to lose points that might be valuable to you at a later point in the semester (when those grades start to really mean something concrete to you), but let’s forget about that for a moment and talk about what else you’re missing out on. In a writing class I work with I read a great deal of work each week, provide individual feedback, and then select a sort of “best of” to be read in the class and discussed briefly. You can’t win the game if you don’t play. For playwrights it is important to hear your work (as it eventually is transmitted by human mouths to the audience) and I can’t choose you if you don’t play the game. Absent the points you might miss you’re also missing feedback and opportunity. Oh well. You see how those small things add up? Yeah, I thought so.

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