Sunday, April 5, 2009

Who will stay; who will leave

I haven't written much on this blog recently—in a sense I said it all. I'm near the end of the second semester, though, and looking at a disturbing trend among my students.

Warning! Yet another politically-incorrect comment coming

I'm going to give out several grades that are C minus or below this semester. We have enough grades on the books that even perfection in the next two papers will not save these students from a low grade. That's a shame, because several of them can write. It's a shame, too, because they will probably lose scholarships. Their problem? They cannot attend class. The word seems to be spreading through several teams that attendance is optional. It isn't. Just to put some numbers out: I have a football player with a "D" average, but his papers are averaging 86%. Another is a plain "F" (with a 56% average), but his papers are a 95%. One of my soccer players has a D minus, but the writing is a 75%.

I could go on, but I won't.

These students will get poor grades for the course; they are very likely to think I have been unfair; they might not be back in school next year. Yes, they could do the work. They just couldn't turn in small assignments, be here for quizzes—be here at all!

I don't think these students are the drunks. (I do have a number of drunks who can't show up for class either, but their written work isn't often very good.) These aren't the distracted students who have "issues" that seem to conflict with every class meeting (someone is always sick or dying or needing a ride to the airport). Those students often write like distracted students—giving me a quick rough draft with the language and spelling of a high school lunch table. I'm especially troubled by the smart ones, the good writers, the ones who could make it if they didn't have the idea athletics are the main business here and academics are a poor second.