Thursday, September 23, 2010

I am Thankful for Teaching Graduate Students

I taught undergraduate students for three years after which I resolved to not do that again. I made one exception when Lee was going through an accreditation review and needed to bolster its roster of part-time teachers with persons having earned doctoral degrees. The reason I did not enjoy teaching college students was their immaturity. Some were brilliant with a clear sense of call and purpose. They were a joy and a challenge, sometimes wanting to know more than I could teach them.

The Bible College, like Lee University, had an open admissions policy, meaning that if an applicant had a high school diploma they would be accepted. During my last year at Northwest we were instructed to assign grades based on the Bell Curve, “an established academic procedure.” I knew this wasn’t true and so I researched the bell curve and naively sent the Academic Dean a dozen articles from academic journals denouncing the use of the Bell Curve for assigning grades. My cover letter with the articles listed more than a dozen reasons why the Bell Curve was especially inappropriate for our Bible College. Among the reasons was the fact that our student’s SAT and ACT scores formed a perfect inverted Bell Curve; I had gotten the raw scores from the Dean’s office. Our students tended to be of very high academic ability or of very low academic ability. Based on their competencies we should have been giving a lot of A’s and F’s. I am sure this had nothing to do with our departure from North Dakota at the end of that school year.

I loved those students, all of them. But it was a challenge to engage them all at the same time. Most were at the school with a strong desire to know and fulfill the will of God for their lives. Too many were not serious about study as a critical component in discovering and fulfilling God’s will.

My limited exposure to Lee students was far more discouraging. The course I taught was actually a good experience. It was comprised of young ministers who commuted in for the class. It was my experience as a guest lecturer that turned me against ever teaching undergraduate students again. There were simply too many students who had no interest in studying God’s Word or doing Christian ministry. Worse of all, there was an attitude of entitlement by some. They were paying good money for their education and it is the teacher’s job to get them through the course. I just didn’t like their attitude; “the customer is always right” and they were the customer.

Well, it’s 25 years later and yesterday’s undergraduate student is today’s graduate student. I love our students. They are some of the most wonderful people in the world. Most are highly capable and committed ministers. Yet, there is a growing sense teachers exist to serve the whims of their students. This has been accentuated by technology. For example, last year Cheryl was sent an email by a student in the middle of the night. She received another email before 9 A.M. wanting to know why she had not responded to the first email.

I’ll complete this one later.

Cleveland, Tennessee
September 23, 2010

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Count your blessings. Try public ed with no school or teacher left standing. Act 2010.