Thursday, February 25, 2010

What am I supposed to do with this?

Teaching is good these days. I'm coaching my discussion class students in ways to ask the kinds of questions that lead to more interesting conversations, and it's been quite rewarding so far.

Sometimes I ask my students to e-mail their homework to me, but today I got an e-mail from a student listing all the obligations filling up his free time... "But I'm doing my homework for you so you won't be angry, even though I'm tired." Then he included the assignment, and closed with, "I'm so tired I can't see straight. I guess life isn't always a bed of roses"

Now, because of some aspects of my upbringing, I'm very very sensitive to even a hint of a guilt-trip being lain, and frankly, the only way to demotivate me to do something faster is whining... but was this guy trying to make me feel guilty for giving him homework?

Never had that before. At least not from my adult students.


Deb said...

You could just tell him that no one is obligated to do any homework ever, but that if they want to learn to speak English - the more effort they put in, the more they'll get out of it. Tell them the goal isn't marks in the end, the goal is to be a capable English speaker, and the only way to do that is to practice (which includes homework), BUT that he's a big boy now, and that he can decide to sleep instead any time he wants - that's the kind of decision big boys can make.
That should rock his entire life philosophy!

Unknown said...

I'd just say take it with a grain of salt. Just give him his objective grade and perhaps what Deb said (which is good advice, but I'd substitute 'man' for 'big boy').

Not sure if I was ever so egregious, but I have had late nights where I would think aloud in inappropriate places and indulge in a bit of self-pity. I always felt embarrassed afterwards however.

I'm kinda curious if he had done his military service yet. Anyway, I'd say just brush it off. But if it becomes a pattern, you may need to have some stern words.

Alex said...

I don't know if he was entirely trying to guilt trip you so much as let you know of his absolute commitment to your class/learning English. However, I agree with Deb, remind your students that the homework isn't busy's to help cement their English skills and to keep that in mind. Also, I agree, sometimes sleep can be more important.

Anonymous said...

Haha! He sounds as though he needs to man up... and fast!

But the whole life isn't a bed of roses thing is quite amusing. At least his English is pretty good...

paquebot said...

You know your students much better than any of us, but as I was reading this entry I didn't see your student's comment as a guilt-trip so much as being proud of what he's done. Kind of like:

"I've got a lot on my plate right now and it would have been really easy for me to put off doing the homework. But you know what? I didn't. Despite feeling tired and fatigued I still set aside the time needed to finish the assignment because I care about your opinion of me."

Then again, I work with elementary students, who often (?) care more about impressing their teachers.