If I responded to your tweet about the frustrations of teaching students who don’t want to learn, I probably would have teased you and said something like: “my students just can’t get enough of my learnin’… must be you!” But then a couple months later, when I found myself at the end the my term, like today, I’d have respond with an update about how frustrated I am that some of my students don’t seem to care about learning what I’m teaching.

But the truth is, they do care about learning, I still want to believe that. I just think they’re overwhelmed and aren’t doing their best work. I’d like to blame it on covid, but the same was true before covid. The terms always start out similar. I’m enthusiastic, I tell my students it’s gonna hurt but it’ll be fun. Some proceed with great trepidation, others are gung ho* right from the start, still others just seem to be in deep water from the start and do strong work.

I’d like to believe that my students will do the work eve if I don’t assign points to them. But I’m finding that’s not true for a sizeable number of them. I have to make things due to make sure they learn. I tried this term to do a “flipped classroom.” It failed immediately. I went through a big explanation of flipped classrooms, how I wanted to structure the class time, and all that jazz. For each class day, I wanted 1.5 hours for active class time, then 1.5 hours of them working along to pre-recorded videos. It turns out that too many of them didn’t understand this concept, so once they left my zoom meetings, they bailed, and didn’t watch the videos. The crucial videos that taught them the basics. And because there were no points involved in doing them, many couldn’t fathom why they would spend the time going through them. Others, didn’t understand that when I said in the video, let’s add this to your page together, that I actually wanted them to code. So even if I got them to watch the videos, they didn’t do the activities in them.

I don’t understand how to teach students who don’t want to learn. Yep. Eating my smarmy comments that I never got to say to you.

* I realized that gung-ho might have come from a weird, culturally effed up place, so I did an entomology search. Turns out it comes from a New Zealander Rewi Alley, who probably miss use of a chinese a phrase.