Procrastination is not usually something that affects me personally. Character traits such as being highly organized, efficient, motivated, and goal orientated are more likely terms you might hear to describe me and my work ethic.
However, here I am procrastinating! I should be working on my graduate course work this morning. Still left to do are two more weeks of assignments, a final project, and more progress on analyzing my study data with a move towards writing up my findings. But, here is what I’ve noticed.
Our assignment this week was finally posted yesterday (Thursday evening). It was supposed to be posted last Sunday. Our course weeks run Sunday to Sunday. This Master’s degree is entirely online and after this semester, I will only have five credits left. I am ready to be done! And, I don’t feel that way because I am tired of learning or tired of the subject matter – Environmental Education. Just the opposite, I am finding more and more opportunities to share what I know and encourage others to work to conserve our natural resources, provide habitat for declining species, and act as stewards. But, I am ready to be done with the system of higher education – at least the system I find myself in at the current time.
Why – when professors expect your work to be submitted on time do they not expect the same of themselves? Our course runs Sunday to Sunday – our assignment should have been posted Sunday, not Thursday! For an organized person, such as myself, and I expect many of my class cohort, this is intolerable! Most likely, we have all planned out our weeks, and given ourselves adequate time to do the readings and then, the assignments. When the assignments are not posted in a timely and organized fashion, we suffer!
Then, when the assignment was posted it was accompanied by a disclaimer that because we are “virtual” students, and not stopping by our professors “office” to remind her of our class, we have been sent to the bottom of her priority list! What?! I pay tuition too! This is not right, and it certainly isn’t right to devalue our student status just because we are not “bothering” her left and right with knocks on her office door!
You know, I taught years ago at the college level in a different discipline, and this would never have been tolerated. The devaluing of your students, the lack of organization in posting assignments, the inefficiency of grading (none of our previous work had been graded until the end of week eleven!)
In sum, it is all affecting my level of motivation and leads me – a non-procrastinator – to procrastinate! I have lost all interest in doing a good job on my work because I do not see a good job being done in return! I know my professor is busy – it is her job to be busy! But, despite being virtual students and maybe, in part what causes us to be virtual students, is that we are busy, too!
And, to further my own ire, I am working on a research study with her as my mentor! Let me just say that it is a good thing that I can chalk up her lack of involvement with this to the fact that I took on research as independent study credits. It’s been truly independent – without even a syllabus or set of objectives to guide me through this semester or last. My sister, who is an assistant professor at another university, tells me this is very abnormal! I guess, I don’t need to be told; I know!
I have long fought for educational reform at the K-12 level. We still need to fight for changes within that system. But, what I am seeing and experiencing now, is a lack of teaching standards at the college level. With three boys either finishing their secondary education, or entering into the second phase of their educational lives – at the college level, it truly concerns me.
As educators, we cannot expect our students to perform at their highest level, adhering to rules and standards, when we – as their teachers, mentors, professors, and guides – fail to do so ourselves! I firmly believe that those that teach CAN and DO – and those that don’t – SHOULD NOT! I am counting the days until I am done with these courses.