Monday, January 30, 2012

The Last Minute Lasts 3-5 Months

Quite often, people remark on the fact that I seem to have a lot of last-minute students. That's one of those strange terms, because although I know what they mean by it, that's not conveyed at all by the naked text.

That's because 'last minute' has become somewhat of an anachronistic term. I can only imagine that this refers to old-time clocks which showed the time changing in increments of minutes, as the mechanism shifted the hands by 1/60 of a revolution. Recently, the term 'last second' has become a bit more common, since that's the smallest convenient unit of time, and clocks use those now. The older term 'eleventh hour' is hardly ever used — after all, now you can get a lot done in the last hour before midnight or noon.

But back to my students. No, I don't think they're last-anything. They do often come to me with 3-5 months remaining of their effective school life before terminal exams. And every single one of them has the potential to do well.

My job is, at the very least, to get them the equivalent of a B grade. This is generally easy to do; get them up to speed, throw them in running, they'll make it.

My calling is a bit different. It's to see if I can push them to an A grade in the short term, or if I have more time, to instil in them some interest, motivation or drive to be habitual learners. That old adage about 'teaching a man to fish instead of giving a man to fish' is pretty applicable. But all that is moot unless you can persuade the person in question that fish is worth eating, that there are many kinds of tasty fish; and that a lifelong interest in finding, catching and eating fish is a worthy one.

And so... give me a student for 3 months and I'll give that student fish; give me a student for 18 months and I'll make that student a fisherman who eats what he catches.

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3 Comments:

Blogger sibrwd said...

How long to make a student who can sell fish for a living?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012 10:27:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Apparently, in Atlantis they make students sell fish automatically. They grow up, sell fish. :D

Friday, February 03, 2012 5:30:00 am  
Blogger P0litik said...

lol ⇈. thanks for teaching me to catch balls. ;-)

Friday, February 03, 2012 11:40:00 pm  

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