October 14, 2004

Empathy

I just had a student that was rather upset about an assignment. You know how some teachers say "take home test" when they mean "you have to write two papers and they're due on the same day." That's what her teacher did. And it's due tomorrow. And she was barely started. It seemed like she had worked hard on it, but she was frustrated and had no idea what was going on. "The teacher said we have to have a strong 'thesis statement.'I don't even know what a 'thesis statement' IS" says the student. I think if a teacher is going to assign a strong thesis statement in an intro-level course, he/she should at least explain what a thesis statement is. Or the student should have asked. But it's due tomorrow, and the reason she's frustrated is she put it off for too long to have time to ask, and she is probably pretty mad at herself. And I can totally empathize with her. In fact, I was in the same situation two days ago. I wish I could have told her that I know how she feels, but I didn' really realize how distraught she was until about half way through, and then I didn't really know what to do. I told her on her way out not to worry and that realizing you should have started working on the essay a longtime ago is what college is all about. And she did seem more confident in her ability to finish her papers after my advice--I explained what a thesis is and how to develop an argument and that if she gets stumped she should go back to the text. I guess I just wish I could have shown my empathy a little better. Maybe I'll try that next time.

Posted by hoga0094 at October 14, 2004 2:56 PM