Because I Say So

Do we as academics, professional professors, feel comfortable in saying to our students, “You should read this because it is good for you. Yes, there are many reasons. I will tell you several. But you should read it because I say so and I am the person who grades you.” ??? That’s my question.

It’s the title of an article in which I found this statement:

A couple of weeks ago, I went to our Provost’s “Student Retention Summit.” I wasn’t planning to say anything, but everyone else’s comments made me curious about something so I polled the room on this question: “How many of you make attendance mandatory for passing the course?” It turns out me and a guy from math were the only ones. The way I frame it, this doesn’t mean you have to attend every class. In a fourteen-week class that meets three times per week, I’ll give them four absences without asking for sickness, acts of God or whatever else they see fit.

2 thoughts on “Because I Say So”

  1. I tweeted another articles that talked about requiring attendance in the Cal State system:

    http://chronicle.com/article/Just-Showing-Up-Educators/127765/

    I’ve written about attendance policies as well:

    http://collegereadywriting.blogspot.com/2011/01/whats-your-attendance-policy.html

    I think the idea that mandatory attendance will automatically lead to better grad rates, well, I’m not so sure. Certainly isn’t helping out high schools. I alway shake my head when students asked if they HAVE to be here; you’re paying to be here, right? Education is the only thing that we want less of for our money. Many of the students I teach need to be in class because it will be the only time that they can devote over 90% of their attention to the work they are required to do. At the same time, there are always classes where you figure out that not attending won’t impact your learning one way or the other.

    In all honesty, though, I tend to agree with the sentiment, because I said so. When students get out into the work force, sometimes that is the only reason they’ll ever get from their bosses.

  2. I’m absolutely comfortable with the “because I said so” rationale. This is not the result of a giant ego or massive power trip. I simply understand my role as a teacher. I choose the reading for a variety of reasons and I think very carefully about what I plan to accomplish with each assignment. In order for the educational process to work, students need to trust that the instructor knows what he/she is doing, otherwise, what’s the point?

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