Field of Science

Give them an mile, and they'll still take more

TPP likes breaks and days off as much as anybody, but he was instilled with a good old-fashioned work ethic that meant you didn't take days off just because and you only took sick days when you literally couldn't physically get out of bed.  The big bugaboo break has always been Thanksgiving.  In days of yore, students were only given Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving making it a 4-day weekend.  Of course most of our students were in-state and that meant that they were only at most a 4 hour drive away from home.  Still you had so few students in class on Wednesday that it became foolish to try to cover any material, but you still had a few students, probably townies, to whom you owed an obligation.  So the university caved in and included Wednesday into the official Thanksgiving break. This was the first inch.  What happened was that the majority of students thought, "what the heck, if I cut classes on Monday and Tuesday, we get a 9-day break".  So classes on the two days prior to the 5-day Thanksgiving break were really poorly attended, so poorly attended that faculty complained that the extra day off made things worse than ever.  In a fit of creativity, the university then removed a 3-day fall break -weekend from the middle of the semester, took another holiday away, and using the two days off from other places made the Thanksgiving break 9-days long!  Woo hoo!  So the Phactor ends up with an exam scheduled on this coming Friday.  Now before you call me some kind of crank, the day was chosen by the class within a certain set of parameters (exam this week or you come back from break to an exam - yes, a sort of lesser of two evils decision, but with a week's notice; let's have no exam would have won in a landslide if on the ballot (TPP's only control).  And as predictable as eclipses, one student whines, "But I'm leaving this Wednesday."  Yes, give them a mile, and they take another mile.  "It's my parents; they planned this."  Fine, give me their telephone number and I'll explain the situation to them.  This kindly offer always is met with an interesting change in perspective and such that one if given to suspect their parents never heard of such a thing.  Now here TPP must admit that he is responsible for just such a transgression for some students because he figured out that this would be a fantastic time to take students on a rain forest biology field trip to Costa Rica rather than waiting to the end of the semester.  Generally instructors have no problem with students needing time off for good academic reasons, or even athletics.  The real trouble is not matter what the university regulations are, it's up to faculty to be the bad guys if they inforce draconian rules.  So there's your real choice: be a bad guy or a good guy.  Let's see teaching evaluations are being performed the week after break, so let's think about this.  How does TPP maximize his outcome?  Hmmm. 

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