field trip complaint

A student writes (in text exactly as I received it):

“So let me get this strait. We have to go on field trips that are really far away. The field trip on Sunday is going to be close to a 4 hour round trip. That is going to cost 40 dollars for gas, 3 dollars for toll, time spent off work,wear and tear on my vehicle, and a waste of a weekend. And your telling me that isn't enough to get the extra credit? We have to do a write up on top of that? I figure dishing out all this money and eating up my weekend should be enough. And Why are the Field trips so far away? There are rocks everywhere! I don't understand your reasoning for this.
And about your tests. I think we should be aloud to bring in a note card of some type. There are way to many weird definitions to remember. All this information is really just going to be to memorize for the test and then brain dump. We just want to fur fill a science requirement. We don't want to devote our lives to rocks.”


Because this missive expresses concerns that many students have, although do not articulate to me, let me respond issue by issue.

> That is going to cost 40 dollars for gas, 3 dollars for toll
Some students have this idea that tuition is the only cost of going to college. I don’t know who told them this idea, but in my experience the tuition is about half of the accrued expenditures of going to college.

Consider books. Many students are outraged at paying $100 or more for textbooks. But as instructors, we regularly observe students chatting away on cell phones, a luxury that for some people produces a bill far in excess of this. Fashionable clothes, iPods, movies—all of these things cost money, but for this spending there seems to be no regret. It is comic to hear students complain about buying books or paying tolls as they spend greater sums on frivolous pleasures and socializing. They seem to expect that going to college should not necessitate a reduction in living standards.

> time spent off work
More and more colleges are changing their schedules to allow gaps of hours between classes, stretching the classes out over the course of the entire day, in order to prevent students from going to part-time jobs. These colleges find that students who are also working are distracted from their studies and achieve poorer grades.

While this will not, of course, happen at the JC level, any student transferring to a 4-year school will get a very rude shock if he or she expects accommodation because of a work schedule.

> a waste of a weekend
Or was it just one day?

What rubs me wrong is this sense of an entitlement to a “weekend.” Only people with union jobs are guaranteed weekends. All other employees dread the Friday afternoon request by a boss to work the weekend; this was perfectly parodied in the film “Office Space.”

More and more, 4-year schools are finding that they can put more instruction in a semester if they schedule midterms on weekends, outside of classtime. In my experience, there is very little flexibility with this—you either show up to the midterm at the time scheduled, or you flunk the class. So expect that if you are transferring, you may not get class time off in order to take a test, but will have it scheduled during a Sat or Sun, presumably “wasting” a weekend.

> We have to do a write up on top of that?
You will be hard pressed to find a science course at a 4-year school that does not require a write-up in order to get credit for a field trip. And as this class is required to be equivalent of a university course in order to qualify for transferablility, I feel I should follow this standard.

> And Why are the Field trips so far away? There are rocks everywhere!
Of all the comments in this email, this is the one that get to me the most. It reminds me of the biology instructors who, when arguing for splitting up funds between bio and geology, say that they should get more money because “You can just go pick up a rock anywhere.”

I really feel like I’m not getting through to a person who thinks this. But I’ve come to expect that with some minds there is only so much I can do to reach them.

> There are way to many weird definitions to remember
Yes, indeed. If you already knew the vocabulary, then there wouldn’t be any challenge to the class, would there?

> All this information is really just going to be to memorize for the test and then brain dump.

I know what you mean. The analogy I always made when I was a student was to shitting. You eat all this food, digest it a bit, trying to extract something useful from it, then in one cataclysmic moment, you blow it all out, using the paper of the final test as toilet paper. Of course, this is hardly an original thought; students have probably been noting the brain dump as long as there have been universities.

> We don't want to devote our lives to rocks
Is one field trip a lifelong devotion to rocks? And why not, anyway? :)


  1. Anonymous said...
    Ha! Ha! Fur fill?! What is that? Reminds me of a cat yacking up a fur ball! Fur fill.
    Anonymous said...
    Right on Steven! Haha....I'm a student in your class, and you hit on all the right topics...unfortunately, I would be a hipocrite if I said I didn't fall into the category of students/people you described. But for crying out loud, if you don't have the decency to go along with a class that YOU registered for, then why are you wasting your and the professor's time?! Also, don't you have to pass English grammar requirements to get into college nowadays? I apologize on behalf of all students. Thanks for sharing this letter, I laughed a little while reading this!

Post a Comment


Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.