Thank you . . . or blank you

Thank you . . . or blank1 you

Michael JansenI am the Head of Crescent School’s Science Department. Before you get all impressed by this lofty title and the attendant responsibilities, I’ll toss a little full disclosure your way: no one else wanted it. 

At a recent department meeting, which I chaired with my usual charm and aplomb,2 we were discussing something or other — I can’t remember. What I do remember is the topic of assessment and student success. Marks are important, I get it. Good marks allow a good student to attend a good program at a good university.

But my yardstick for success is different: it is what I hear from a student after he has spent half a year or so at university. 

It is “Thank you, Sir”, not “$#%$@ you, Sir!”. 

That’s right… my former students want to thank me for the chemistry instruction. But what they are really thanking me for is an instructional environment that values real learning, not memorizing or superficial understanding. Day after day, we discuss how to take notes, how to pay close attention to detail, how to manage distractions, how to study, how to review for a test, how to write a test. Students learn the value of good ol’ fashioned hard work and how to respect their future selves.

I am fortunate that my bosses value this kind of thing more than they value my class’s AP Exam Grades. 

While I don't want to offer excuses for my students' AP Exam performance, the reason is straightforward: most students simply don’t have the time to work through previous exams. And we have no class time for this. 

So focus your — and your students’ — energy on what is important: NOT marks.


1.    and by blank, I mean %$#$^&
2.    I wish!