Thursday, April 1, 2010

What Is Important?

I was giving a test that started at 8:00 this morning. I had my laptop on and my work email up. At 8:36 a student mailed me. She was "stuck" at registration and would have to miss the test. Could she take it tomorrow?

I thought, "She's five minutes walk from the classroom. They won't let her leave? Taking a test is not as important as registering now?"

Those were the negatives. On the positive side, she was not lying. I suspect that half of the students who take makeups lie about having to miss the original test. Since she was not lying, I mailed back, "You may take the test with another class at 9:35 or not at all."

She replied, "I can't take it then. I have a class."

I began to understand. Taking a test was not as important as registering. It was not as important as attending another class. I was tempted to ask, "Is taking this test the least important possible use for your time?"

But I didn't. I answered, "Then I will assign a zero on the test."

She replied, "I will talk to my teacher at 9:35 and see if it is OK."

She showed up and took the test.

I cannot spend a lot of time worrying about a young lady who is so self-centered, putting emphasis on anything immediate and expecting me--who has the job of evaluating her--to fit myself into her schedule. But I have taught for over twenty years, and that was a first.

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