Teaching Question

As we moved to “remote learning” in the last two weeks of the semester, 70% of the students in my Freshman class disappeared. We can’t blame this on my shitty online teaching because they evaporated before seeing me on a screen.

I’m thinking of not using those two weeks in my grading. (I always have a large percentage of the grade assigned to participation). If they were there every day during regular instruction, should we punish them for not doing the online learning that they never wanted to do?

On the other hand, what about the faithful 30% who did stick with it until the very end? Isn’t it unfair to them not to punish those who flaked out, even though the flaking out was very understandable and even commendable?

What do you, guys, think? I’ve been extremely lenient with grading all semester because I feel so guilty about what we, the neurotic oldsters, are doing to these kids.

13 thoughts on “Teaching Question”

  1. Why not give an extra-credit assignment based on the last two weeks that gives the 30% a chance to improve their grade? The rest of the class can be graded as usual.


  2. Treat that participation during those last two weeks as a bonus. Then that way you’re not penalizing 70% of the class but then you don’t make the 30% feel like suckers. You still have to be there virtually even if nobody shows up, right?


  3. I echo the other comments about giving some bonus points to those who showed up. That way, you reward the ones who stuck it out but don’t punish the ones who didn’t show up.


  4. Reminds me of a story of the famous baseball coach who gave an important speech at a huge baseball convention-wearing an actual homebase around his neck. The thrust of his talk was: don’t change the size of homebase. It is the standard. Do we have standards or do we not….


  5. “we moved to “remote learning” in the last two weeks of the semester”

    I guess this is how they take care of elite overproduction… online universities so that no sane person wants a higher degree (and online high schools will not produce 5% of students capable to doing university level work so I guess it will even out).
    Globally what is being done to students and the very idea of education (nuking it from orbit so that the elite’s feckless failspawn won’t have to compete with anyone actually talented) feels like the beginning of a new Dark Ages…


    1. Just imagine the difference between kids who were spared a screen-filled childhood, who were educated in a real classroom, who have normal social skills because they grew up playing with other kids in person, who have read real books, and who have developed a normal human subjectivity AND the little zombies raised by screens. It’s like manufacturing a different race of humans because the kids who have spent their whole lives stupidly staring at screens and never interacting with anybody simply won’t have the kind of brains that are needed to exist in the world.

      This is the largest experiment in eugenics that has ever existed and we are snoozing while it happens.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This isn’t related to screens, but I was listening to an interview with a woman who has started a sort of initiative to reduce ultra-helicopter type parenting, and some of the stories she tells about that culture are striking.

        It’s taken as common sense, for instance, that you should never be out of the house when your child has a friend over, because if they get into some sort of disagreement it’s essential that you’re around to sort it out.

        After hearing that, so much of the weird behavior I hear about students at elite SLACs (which seem to select for kids raised this way) makes sense. People reached their late teens and never developed any conflict resolution skills, never had a fight with their friend and figured out how to make up on their own & etc. Of course now they demand third party authority figures be around to regulate everything.

        She also mentioned that many of the parents doing this kind of know that it’s unhealthy, but their afraid not to because they will be judged by the other parents around them.


        1. If a child is under the age of 3, you definitely shouldn’t leave not just the house but the room. Once they are 4-5, you can leave them alone in a room or another floor of your house.

          But if they are 15 and you still need to hover, that’s a disease.

          I’m extremely happy that I can finally go do something I need to do and leave my kid and her friend running around free in and around the house. The friend is 3,5 but she’s very smart and mature, so we don’t have a problem. They do fight but at this point, it’s up to them to resolve it. I taught Klara that if she gets angry and feels the need to beat the friend, she should go into the bathroom, breathe deep and think fluffy thoughts. So now she does that.

          One of the greatest skills of parenting is to know when to step back and go do your own thing. Of course, many people don’t have their own thing, and that’s a problem.


            1. “hovering around 15-year-olds is more to ensure they don’t drink or do drugs together at your house”

              In other words… prevent them from actually acting like teenagers so they’ll still act like 10 year olds when they’re 20 and 30 and….


              1. By the time they are 15, it’s too late to supervise or spy on them. They are going to do exactly what they need to do to deal with the shit you’ve been throwing at them in the previous 15 years. :-)))

                It’s completely true that kids who didn’t have a normal adolescence have miserable 30s and 40s. So yeah.


  6. Whatever formula you use, I’d advise sticking to the letter of the law as set out in the published course requirements. If that means penalizing those who didn’t “stick with it until the very end,” it’s a life lesson worth teaching (and learning.)


  7. I taught in person and the last two weeks online. Those who showed up in person continued to show up online, even though I recorded the online lectures. Kids either realize it’s good for them to keep the schedule or they don’t. Those who don’t fall behind fast anyway. It’s good to remind them that being present and keeping a regular schedule is important long term.


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