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It's The Policy

If you teach multiple sections of a course like me, or even 1-2 large sections, your syllabus probably gets longer with the number of students with more and more legalese to cover every possible scenario, usually added just after it happens. Students today seem more able (and willing!) to find every loophole rather than just sit down and learn the material.

When they come to me with their sob story and demand time out of my busy schedule to resolve their issues, it is easy to fall back on policy and give them an answer based on the syllabus or university handbook or whatever, and wash my hands of the 'blame' for an unpopular decision.

When I do this, the Spirit convicts me, reminding me that >I< wrote the syllabus. I'm not some middle-management cog, I am the instructor of the course, and even if I were a cog in the wheel, I have been given a job to do--to resolve this person's issue. I am reminded, that in my case anyway, I am teaching because I want to help raise up the next generation of citizen-chemists. Policies don't mentor, people do.

Will I be professional enough, mature enough, to take responsibility for what happens in my course? Will I respect my students enough to listen to them, evaluate their situation, and make a fair decision, even if it is one they don't like? Am I willing to bear their displeasure or do I feel compelled to capitulate to earn their goodwill? The vernacular for this is being a 'people-pleaser,' and it is generally viewed with disdain. Jesus is not a respector of a person's self-esteem. He is a respector of truth, because He is the truth. As His people, we are called to do likewise.

Of course, just making such decisions is not mentorship. Mentorship is helping the student to understand the situation, and why the decision is a fair one. They are not always receptive, but deep down, they probably respect you more.

There is an 'old-fashioned' word for mentorship. It's discipleship.


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