Crying game

Had a better day yesterday; made a student cry in my class.

It’d been a Javascript class and it had gone fairly well. I asked my students if they had any questions for me. Of course they did not, so I said I’d ask them questions (I like to do something at the end of a class to re-visit the material we have covered). I asked one simple question and, while I waited for the answer, I thought of four more. As there were five students in the class, and since their refusal to answer that simple question was annoying me, I told them to stand up and that I’d ask them each one question.

We’ve done this before: I ask a question and they raise their hands to answer. The first to raise gets to answer first and whoever gets it right gets to sit down. To cut a long story short there was one student left standing (as is always the way with that exercise) and the unanswered question was the first one I had asked. I know she knows how to get to the right answer even if she doesn’t have it on the tip of her tongue so I was not going to let her avoid answering by looking sad and hurt, which was her strategy.

While I waited for her to answer I calculated that after the break I was teaching the same class and after that it would be lunch time so I could, if I chose to, stand with her and wait for her answer for up to four hours. But I took pity on her: when she told me that she had already given me her answer I asked leading questions to get something like the right answer from her which, of course, she gave.

But after she finaly sat down and I started to explain how the way to get out of such a situation is to play the game and answer the questions not to look hurt and hope I will have mercy, she started to sob.

I feel that these students are afraid to participate in their own education and use emotional blackmail to manipulate us teachers to avoid having to think in class. In case it remains to be said, this pisses me off.

Having said that, the next class went better. I did it last term too: gave the Unix students (the same ladies I had just had this fight with) a floppy formatted for the Unix operating system and told them the instructions for the lab are on that disk. With the minimum of help from me they managed to figure out how to mount the disk, read the file, copy the contents to the server, reformat the disk as a Windows compatible disk and copy the instruction file back on to it. When they demonstrated to me that they were able to open the instruction file on Windows they were through and won a packet of glucose biscuites each.

Perhaps bribery is the answer…?

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