Teaching our students essential skills as we teach our “real” subjects can be challenging and, for those of us not blessed with saintly patience, exasperating. Most of my students want to be health care providers, so I focus on the skills needed to avoid killing other people. “Following directions carefully” tops the list. “Listening closely to important information” might be a corollary.
During class, I explained slowly and deliberately what would be asked on a credit-rich portion of an upcoming exam. I provided a work sheet with the exact diagrams that would be presented. I offered two alternatives for the question itself. I explained the scoring system. (I know, I know….this reeks of the dread “spoon feeding.” I’m soothing my conscience by calling it “playing fair.”)
And then I received this email on a Sunday evening, reproduced here just as I saw it—no greeting, no signature, just a query/demand: “On the pictures of the brain you said we had to identify what again? I forgot.”
What’s a mother to do?
Here’s one of the posters that decorate my classroom lab, customized with one of Captain Sparrow’s great lines:
However, before I reached full righteous fuming gear, the cosmos reminded me about my own inadequacies. I received an email from my chair nudging me to complete some annual administrative tasks…and I had to ask again how to do them. I prepared my request for Christmas leave, and once again had to pester the long-suffering and ever-gracious Keri Williams to make sure that I had done them properly. (Why, no, I had not, although I came closer than usual.)
Maybe I should go stare awhile at my own poster. Worse things could happen to me than spending a little time with Cap’n Jack.