Passing on punishment
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
Hypothetical situation: a student misses more than 30 per cent of a class’ courses, for whatever reason, but manages to do well enough on the tests and assignments to achieve a passing grade. In many courses at Douglas College, this would result in the student receiving a grade of UN, good for a 0.00 on the GPA scale. The student is effectively being punished not for his or her academic performance, but for a poor attendance record. Where’s the sense in that?
In the given example, the student has made several investments: money into the course, money into the necessary books, and time into learning the material. And yet, the school came to the decision that after all that, the final outcome should be, essentially, a fail. While I completely understand why a rule exists to promote students going to class, the penalty shouldn’t be so severe. College is supposedly the ideal stepping stone to get to a real job, and therefore, such a policy helps to instil the importance of professionalism; however, in most situations, a portion of a student’s grade comes directly from attendance anyway. Isn’t the fact that the student knows that hard-earned grades are being thrown away sufficient punishment?
The educational aspect of the issue aside, what difference does it make to the college? If a student can pass a course without sitting in on a single class, more power to them. After all, the college already got its money. The course is paid for. The books have been purchased. What’s the problem? It brings to mind the classic cases of when people are dead set in their ways. Everything has to be done their way. Even if you find another way, you have to stick to what they tell you to do. It’s a blind, irrational way to go about things. In this case, the other way is to skip some classes while still maintaining a good grade. The rigid, unchanging people are the colleges who refuse to admit, at the very least, that there’s really nothing wrong with the alternate method. By all means, slap the rebels on the wrist, but don’t go overboard and hang them.
With all that said, there are instances when class attendance actually is, and should remain, mandatory. When students are in one-on-one lessons—for example, for a musical instrument—the teacher needs to monitor their progress from session to session. If someone is only showing up once every few weeks, or just showing up for their final evaluation, it’s unacceptable. It’s the equivalent of someone never doing any homework. It’s also a waste of the teacher’s time.
I’m saying here that the ends justify the means. However, this obviously misses the connotation of college and education; in no way am I encouraging students to intentionally miss classes, but if they can still pull out a passing grade with limited attendance, they should be allowed to.
Too fool for school
By Elliot Chan, Contributor
Before you consider skipping class, try to remember why you’re in school. Some of you may desire a quality job or have a thirst for knowledge. Others may be searching for new interests or re-evaluating an important life choice. Whatever your reason for being in school is, I’m sure wasting money and time is not one of them.
But hey, it’s your money and it’s your time, so why should I care? Because education is a commodity. By missing class, you’re taking up a spot for a student who actually wants to be there and learn. Not all of us are blessed with the luxury of time. With class limits and waiting lists, you may end up forcing those people to wait another semester or another year. Hell, you might even be forcing them to forgo the plans of school altogether. That is a crime akin to stealing, and it should be punished. Of course, we all get sick now and then—that’s unavoidable—but to miss class just because of your indolence is unacceptable.
Incentives may help some students to focus and excel, but not all respond to positive reinforcement. Tough love is often required to assist in developing work ethic and responsibility. Some believe that it is the parents‘ or guardians’ choice whether or not to discipline a child, even when they skip class. But I don’t. I remember the old proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Many institutions in North America and the UK are starting to adopt that mentality by introducing fines to students and their families for unexcused absences. Those schools that implemented the proposal found attendance improved significantly. Although some students and parents view the law with skepticism, I believe that it might just be what we need, especially when tuition fees are so high. Use the fine for a scholarship, or to improve the education system; it doesn’t matter, so long as it’s going to a more deserving place.
School and work aren’t always fun, but life isn’t always fun. Still, you wake up every day and continue plugging away. If you don’t show up to work, you’ll be fired, so why shouldn’t it be the same with school? Just because you paid tuition doesn’t make it any less of an obligation, especially in a class that relies on you to have certain knowledge. Group projects are a vital part of most courses now. School should be a place to network and meet people and develop employment skills. It is not so strange to think of your classmates as co-workers, or even employers one day. Imagine that. Imagine the reputation you have in the classroom. Ask yourself, are you someone people would rely on to do a class project with? Or are you the chubby kid selected last in a dodge ball game?