The Siren Song of the Deadline. This the weekend at the end of the second week of class and, I am sad to report, despite all my best efforts to get the students to work ahead, make their own schedule, take charge of their class agenda, etc. etc., the large majority of students, as always, are letting my totally arbitrary deadlines set the schedule for them. I've still got 91 students (more than usual; I aim for 80-85), and of those only 16 have finished today's assignments already. The remaining 75 have waited until the deadline, today... and because of that, a large number of them will also be taking advantage of the grace period on Monday morning because they won't actually finish today's work today. Or else they will finish it in haste, and it just won't be as good as if they had done it without the ticking of the clock determining the amount of effort that they put into it. Please note: I do not blame the students for this; I blame 16 (or more) years of formal schooling where we are constantly telling them what to do, where to do it, etc. (not much talk about why)... developing in them a passivity that has terrible and far-reaching effects. College faculty and administrators love to talk about critical thinking skills. Heck, I would like to talk about student AUTONOMY and the way that most students assume (often rightly) that they have little or no autonomy at all. What's the good of critical thinking skills if you are not allowed to make even the most basic decisions about when and where you are going to do your learning, with real choices about what you are studying, etc. ....? That's a rhetorical question, of course: it is no good at all turning students into passive and obedient robots who do our bidding, and nothing more or less than our bidding. But as +Bernard Bull  pointed out: "If a school year includes 180 days of class and each day has 6-8 bell rings, then that adds up to over 16,000 rings by the time a student graduates from high school. It is the first time that I realized what this means about the curriculum of most schools in the United States. It means that responding to bells is one of the more reinforced and near universal lessons in a school experience."
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