25 August 2010

No Spoons

So classes start next week. I already emailed my students a full week before saying that the syllabus is already available online, and that there's assigned readings for every week, including Week 1. I also emailed them about information on the textbook, and other required readings for the class.

Now here's the interesting part. I guess I have quite a few students who are freshmen. This is the first time they are actually stepping into college. And with that, there are quite a few people whose mindset is still in high school.

What do I mean by this? Well, there's spoon feeding. Hand holding. High school does that. In college, however, that isn't done. And people need to realize that in college, things change. People are treated as adults now, and not kids. People have responsibilities, and they need to be told that.

Now what exactly do I have in mind when I say this?

So I got a few emails responding to my mass email. One asked me whether one needs to get a textbook by the first day of classes or can one just borrow the library copy for the first week, and the reason this is asked is because this student is currently out of town and won't be back until a day before the semester starts. Another student asked how much was the textbook, and whether the university bookstore sells it. A third student asked whether they are required to buy the other readings somewhere.

So, I did respond to these queries politely. I didn't let them see how annoyed I was. That's the privilege of people here reading my blog, perhaps.

So, traveling? I don't care. I am all for self-determination. If you feel comfortable showing up in Buffalo a day before classes start, I don't care. It's not my business, so if that delays your procurement of a textbook, you'll have to deal with the consequences. Don't make it sound like you're guilt-tripping me by requiring a chapter of the textbook to be read by the first week. If you haven't read it by Monday, fine, read it by Wednesday. I don't keep tabs on such minute details. And students should know better by now that these minute details are petty and really, insignificant. Just catch up later, you know?

Now, the textbook price. Why would I know that? I am given a free desk copy by the publisher. There's many ways of finding that out. Barnes and Noble has a website, and so does Amazon. Pick your favorite bookstore. Even the university bookstore has a website and tells you how much the book is. I mean, I can find out the answer, but so can you. Whatever happened to plain old curiosity? Are people really so used to information being handed to them for free, without any exertion of effort? I get the feeling that this is all the result of today's media, that things are so boomed into our heads that we just declined using our inquisitiveness. If that is the case, then that is sad.

Third point, is that people don't read. I mentioned in my syllabus that the only textbook that I require them to get a personal copy of is the one book I listed there. The rest of the readings are available online as PDF copies. And they have easy and free access to that. Read the fine print people. I already mentioned that not only in the syllabus but also in the email that I sent to them. What else do they want?

Oh well, sometimes I get the feeling that people are just passive individuals waiting for stimuli to get inside their brains. Hopefully this is not the case.

Oh, in a different and positive note, I am starting a new photo series here. This is the start of my photos taken in Pisac, where I hiked a mountain all the way to the top, with a local guide who always called me by the name "Robert" which was bizarre, since I told him my name, and yet perhaps he decided that it was hard to pronounce and then just substituted Robert for it.

(That's the Goal, from my Pisac Series)

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