Occasionally a football box score will run 7 7 7 7 as the scoring quarter by quarter. Then there’s one like 7 7 0 14, plus, box scores can get even more outrageous with end of the game heroics. When it comes to school, there is only so much that a student can make up at the end of a term because process plays a big part in learning. Rumination figures in. That’s why learning isn’t quite like touchdowns, but is more like eating. After all, who swallows a meatball whole? The tummy will rebel against that.
The classroom does have irregularities, however, that make a big fourth quarter necessary for students in distress. This eight week term, an outstanding student got behind. After a week of assurances to me, she disclosed that her husband suddenly walked out on her, leaving her with the children. Not to be robbed of her college experience, she has gritted through on an agreed upon schedule and kept up her same high quality work.
I would not have demanded or expected any certain responses from her. Nontraditional students generally are more mature than eighteen year olds, but nontraditional students also carry extra responsibilities with family and work. It has put students more at ease to let them propose what they can accomplish when way behind, knowing of course that grades can only be what the course content allows.
Another student behind in her work had a sick child, then got sick herself, and on top of that she is pregnant with her fourth child, and her husband got called out of town. Her perseverance and completion of work that would seem unlikely is heroic.
What this shows is how some of our students value their education. Further, they have already learned by having to provide for others according to need and not according to emotion. These are not the ones obsessively driven who drop their other priorities and make others suffer in order to achieve goals in a self-centered way. They are the ones who figure out how to keep going and get things done, even if not at the assigned pace.
In a manufacturing setting, it might not work to miss a morning shipment to a customer. In the classroom, however, since I am the customer, I can negotiate and wait closer to the end of the course for the ones taking heavy blows in life. The course does end on a certain day, and grades have to be posted by a certain date, but at least the carpenters are not standing around on a construction site unable to proceed because the lumber hasn’t arrived.