Wednesday, June 18, 2014

In retrospect, we did talk a lot about cookies, didn't we? Part 3

From Rate Your Students, September 20, 2008

Some Anti-Cookie Folks Raise Their Mean Heads To Cry "Enough!"

"It's nice when our students perform well. I often bring them little treats, candy or gum, or occasionally hot chocolate on a frosty day. They work hard, and I want them to know that I care about them. "

  • Holy shit I cannot believe this. When I taught K-3 in public schools we did this. For God's sake these are college students, most are adults. They shouldn't be bribed or rewarded for meeting expectations. Professors who do this are doing a disservice to students and setting up future professors for stupid expectations.

  • When my students do something great, I praise them, verbally, sometimes with grades. I don't need them to like me so I don't make them cookies, brownies, bring them donuts, give them a party, or anything else. I might if we were a Cub Scout troop.

  • I'm embarrassed to be a proffie today. Someone wrote yesterday that it's a "miracle" if students do something right? Really? Are you even trying then? What kind of dunderhead can't encourage students to at least follow instructions. If they aren't doing these bare minimum type activities - bringing an assignment when it's due!?!?! - then surely most of your students fail, right? Well, no, not really, because I've seen the numbers. I hope no non-academic reads that shit about cookies. We're already enough of a laughingstock.

  • Yesterday someone on your blog said she is proud that her students call her "Mom." This is someone who's in need of some psychological help, and I'm not even joking or being hyperbolic. There's something wrong if you're an adult professor who has this kind of need. Please, reconsider what it seems your colleagues tell you. You're not doing them any favors by being their mom.

  • Uh, being "liked" by students is not my goal. My goal is to increase their ability to reason, think, read, write, and contend with the world. If I just wanted to be liked, I'd bake cookies and give them balloons (and high grades). But we must be more responsible than that. I'm sickened by the whole "cookies" thing. This might work in the 5th grade, but it's not appropriate for college level students. Surely you can remember some of your professors in college. Did any of them (from the 60s, 70s, 80s, etc.) bring you cookies if you remembered to bring your homework? (Sure, I once got some weed from a Philosophy prof in the early 70s, but that was not the same as this...I digress.)

  • Well as I see it, it's all about restraining myself. I have one of those generous heart things going, and I'm also thrilled when the students do something fun & wonderful, like their work. And I came straight from the Make-Them-A-Happy-Treat school myself. I also resist reminding them when things are due, calling them when they're absent more than a week, and nagging them to drop the class (much to the Admin's consternation). I sit on my hands a lot. You see--it's about them. Not me. The students are the ones who have to figure out how to create their own rewards and "feel-goods" for themselves--they're the ones who have to find their own internal motivation (see this Washington Post article.) After all, when they leave high school, the cookies and the money-for-grades and the all-day suckers and the pizza parties are left behind and they meet us: college professors expecting them to motivate themselves, get to class (or drop if they decide not to come at all), stay up late to finish their English or Math or Soc because it's important intrinsically to their own sense of who they are, independent of what others may say. . . or bring.  In the Big World we are expected to keep going even when the Cookie Fairies don't show up with our treat for attending a faculty meeting, grading stacks of papers when we'd rather be outside in the garden. I want my students to grow up and be able to run the world when I'm retired and in the rest home, and I aim to do my part.

  • I stopped reading Bardiac long ago. Too twee for my taste. And, really, I can’t stand that whole cohort of anonymous academic bloggers. I can think of only a few good reasons to blog anonymously, like ragging on students the way we do at RYS, but most of these people have no real reason to hide behind a pseudonym. For the most part they are a bunch of tedious navel-gazers and on more than one occasion I have seen those pseudonyms used as weapons to take down an academic enemy. That is, I’ve seen things posted anonymously that the writer should have been willing to own. Bitch PhD is the worst, but others are nearly as bad. That whole crew has a massive sense of self-entitlement. Snowflake professors. And cookies? And being called Mom? Seems like some people have some serious issues defining the boundaries of their professional lives. Next thing you know they’ll be showing up at the big game. Oh, wait . . .

  • What? They can't get students to meet expectations on the merits of their own teaching? I tell my students they will not receive token praise for doing what they are expected to do, which is successfully meeting the criteria on all assignments in this course. Giving praise for doing what is expected encourages a sense of complacency rather than promoting a desire to learn and produce higher quality work on subsequent assignments. Cookies? Candy? Treats? Who are these dumbasses kidding? 

3 comments:

  1. I don't bake for students or take them treat (except for department sanctioned parties when faculty are required to do so), but I sure do enjoy when someone brings treats to a meeting, usually because I've skipped lunch and need something to fortify me to the end of the day.

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  2. Isn't the standard reward for a Rhesus monkey in a laboratory to give him a cookie?

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  3. Having been in both industry and academe, I will never, ever bring cookies or do any other mommy task. These acts smack too much of the "tradition" in many large offices where the women (low-level clerical workers) baked cakes and cookies to feed the men (read: anyone with any power). No, I'm not an ancient silverback whose experience was Mad-Men era offices. I mean engineering companies where the majority of women are in HR, sales, and other "soft" skills, and few women are in technical roles. When women in those positions fall to the cookie-baker side, it reinforces lingering perceptions that they aren't as technical, aren't as serious, and don't quite belong. (I also hate to cook.) Students don't respect professors as it is. Professors don't need to undermine the standards further by being best pals and mommies to their "kids". Ewww.

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