When I was starting out my adventure in post secondary education I was completely aware that this was a pricy adventure. I was paying to learn and explore. Prior to this point in my life school was simply a place I had to go, classes I was required to attend and pass to move forward on the conveyor belt of my education.
And then rather suddenly that all changed as money was exchanged for me attend classes and learn things. Money was paid to these experts, these leaders in their respective fields to share knowledge and ideas with me. The professors were being paid to mark essays, tests and assignments. (Don’t get me wrong I was aware that my school teachers prior to this foray into higher education were paid for these things as well. The difference was that to me, the teachers actually cared if I succeeded or not. To the professors at the university, I was simply another number.) I was paying attention too, because for the first time the grades I received had an impact on me. As in who wants to give out money again to attend the same class when you could have passed it the first time if you attended and did the required work?
I was blessed in that I didn’t pay for my post secondary education. I was fortunate enough to qualify for a full scholarship and managed to carry out my academic career in the same sort of fashion. So the financial strain and hardship weren’t’ exactly items I felt, but I was exceedingly aware of the cost of my courses, tuition and books. I made a point of keeping track all the way through my endeavors of each price tag. Not that you can put a price on an education or knowledge in my opinion. To me those things are priceless.
Here’s the thing, I never once saw my professors as providing me a service. Rather I say myself more or less fortunate to have an opportunity to learn from these people. It is evident that times have changed and perhaps I have truly gotten old now.
Classes have commenced again where I am fortunate enough to lecture. And as is the tradition with of my peers, I spent the first few classes letting my students know what is expected of them and what they can expect from the course. What I hadn’t counted on was a few students challenging back with the fact that I was providing them with a service and they wanted to ensure that I was aware of their expectations of me.
I’ve always expected to show up to class, unless sick or injured. Or dead. I see no point in showing up to lecture if I’m dead. I’m not sure how effective I would be in that case, although there have been days where I’ve wondered if I’m effective anyway when I show up and am fully present. I’ve always expected to be fair when it comes to assignments and grading. I’ve always expected to honor the office hours and appointment hours set forth by my department.
But these are not things that my students are expecting of me. Instead they want to know that I will be available to them on their terms. One expected me to answer her questions via text or other social media platforms. But I can’t meet those expectations because I refuse to connected 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Is it not reasonable to let my students know that if they email me, I will respond to their emails within 24 hours of receiving it?
When did the service agreement of me providing my students knowledge etc. change to being their personal educational elf? Who is being unreasonable here? Have times changed that much or is this a subset of the constantly connected culture some people now life in? Am I expected to entertain my students’ schedule and anticipate each learner’s specific needs when I lecture to over 90 people per session? Does everyone need to pass the class?