I’d like to dedicate this next little number to the smirking little flirtatious skipper in all of us. She’s there, TRUST me, you just ignore her.I’m coming clean right now: I skip a bunch of classes.
“Brad, no! You?
Oh, hush. Settle down, all of you. Let me explain.
The word “skip” has terrible connotations for professors, I’m pretty sure. They usually take it as a sort of willful absence to play videogames, do drugs, or practice their bongo-skills (maybe all three?). Or maybe they just think it’s lazy.
I skip for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes I’ve had to work. Trying to set your schedule around a job doesn’t always work when people call in sick.
“Oh, what’s the Ricky? Can’t use the deli-slicer baked out of your skull? It’s cool; we’ll call that Brad kid in. Rest up.”
I also skip if I’m sick. I know a lot of people who’ll sit towards the back of the class, hacking away into the back of their buddy’s head or writhing about in feverish disarray, eyes half shut, phlegm and spittle flying about the room in an orgy of infection and disease.
And who hasn’t had to skip out to get home early for some such thing?
I’m not advocating pointless class skipping. There are people who skip to do ‘shrooms or go skiing or sleep in and sure, that’s irresponsible (most of the time).
I’ve been very lucky in my school career to have very understanding teachers who have given me passes when I needed them, and the vast majority of professors here are happy to work with students on absences.
But they almost all also have attendance policies. Attendance policies have always seemed a frivolous thing.
It’s akin to those terribly misguided award ceremonies during elementary school where shiny ribbons or plaques were given out to all the kids who had perfect attendance for the year.
Congratulations, you didn’t catch the flu this year (or, if you did, what a trooper. Nice job coming in anyway and making half the class lose their chance at the award by spreading it around). An attendance policy in grade school makes sense because no one wants to go to school through junior high.
But we’re in college now. We’re paying the money, moving away from our homes, choosing careers that we (hopefully) have an interest in and we don’t need to be kept track of. We made our own decision.
If I’m paying upwards of $20,000 a year as an out-of-state student to take classes I shouldn’t be penalized for skipping one. I’m paying, that’s my choice. If I think I’m too sick to go to class, I shouldn’t have to worry about how many classes I’ve skipped. I should lie in bed and relax.
When you take away whole spans of someone’s grade (three skips and you’re dropped from an A to a B) the grade becomes pointless. It’s no longer an accurate representation of a student’s level of skill when it comes to that subject. Instead, it becomes an arbitrary letter representing some teacher’s opinion of how often her class should be missed.
What about someone who goes to all the tests and aces them, writes all the papers and brilliantly executes every one of them, gets all the assignments done on time and does them better than any one else in the class: The Perfect Student.
“What’s this on my calendar? Seth missed class five times last month and didn’t give me a good reason. Well, see how the bastard likes it when he’s dropped down to a ‘C’.”
If the policy is to keep kids in class, then it’s no good. Those who want to skip will skip anyway and the students who are really interested in class will be there every day they can, adding to the class and getting good grades.
Dock a kid for not participating, absolutely. Drop him from the class if he misses consecutive weeks. Best of all, talk to him and find out what’s going on and go from there but figure out some other way to evaluate a student apart from absences.
Just get rid of that little sentence on the syllabus that says “Attendance is mandatory.” and assume everyone knows that and evaluate them based on an individual basis.
We’re in college. We all know where we should be when class times rolls around.
We also have the ability to decide when we should be somewhere else.
Just don’t ask me come to class if I’m pukin’.