Lazy Teachers Create Lazy Students

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posted this on Thursday, September 1, 2011 at about 9am.
Chalkboard - Sit up Stop Talking Do your work I'll go to sleep

I hear the debates all the time about the problems in the public education system. I teach in private education and, I’ll say, they are not immune from the same problems.

There is a prevailing attitude of entitlement with many students. They want to get a pass because they have other things they want to do.

Not long ago, I had a student ask me, “I am going to need a few extra days to turn in my assignment because I won’t have time to get it done. I’m moving this weekend.”

My response was, “You’ve known about this assignment for two weeks and you still have three days, so, no. If you are late, you’ll receive a zero score.”

He had the audacity to say, “Well, I’m telling you right now I can’t get it done so you need to give me an extension.”

I think it all comes down to laziness.

However, it should be understood that this laziness and this attitude of entitlement is learned behavior. This is learned from the interactions they’ve had over their entire life. It is learned because they were not held to a high enough standard earlier in life.

Laziness is taught by teachers. And I’m not talking, only, about school teachers. I’m talking about anyone that teaches. These teachers could be parents and friends. They could be church and civic leaders. They can also be employers and supervisors. Often, they are school teachers. Starting in elementary school and continuing to middle and high school.

I’ve even noticed this coming from teachers at colleges and universities.

Here is what I have seen at the college level that proves to me that teachers are lazy. And, believe me, this is no where near a complete list of examples.

  • Students not losing points on assignments for improper spelling, malformed grammar and improperly formatted documents. There is absolutely no justification for students at the college level or employees in any business where writing is required to not be held to a high standard. Small errors are understandable (I’m sure there are some in this post) but most of the time I see large, obvious errors that never should have made it out of draft one.
  • Extensions granted because the student asks with no consideration of the reason. In the hospital = good reason. Moving your apartment = bad reason. Sister broke her hand and is in emergency surgery = good reason. My ride needs me to leave now = bad reason.
  • Accepting poor quality presentations. When I say this, I’m not only talking about PowerPoint, but that is a big problem with most. I’m talking, also, about verbal discussions, proper use of images and graphs and proper use of words. Crass, inappropriate language in any professional environment is a sign of ignorance and a lack of propriety.
  • Students are actively taught to not be creative. The arbitrary rules placed on how they should think and act prevent them from being innovative. Just because your student, employee or child is not an artist it does not mean that they can’t be creative. Let them come up with creative solutions to problems and don’t say no just because it’s not the way that you would do it.

We do a significant disservice to those we teach by not holding them to a high standard. By giving them a pass when they make small mistakes, we are not preparing them for the real challenges they will face when it really matters.

Your students need to know failure. You can either teach them how to overcome it by introducing it to them in small measures or you can shield it from them until the full force of failure hits them all at once.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Consulting firm.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

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