They’re people too!

I think I related more to the readings from the standpoint of my experiences, but recognize the extension to my current and future students too. We have a responsibility to educate, but also to ensure the holistic person is cultivated as well. As an undergraduate at Rensselaer, we had a series of required courses called the “professional development series” which were made as a reaction to GE contacting the school to say “we love you’re engineers, they’re great engineers, but they’re terrible people.” RPI was great at teaching us how to engineer, but functioning in a corporate environment, being social, or even just delivering a presentation properly were alien concepts to far too many RPI students. Our students are and have to be treated as people too.

I have seen students of my own who suddenly change part way through a semester, suddenly never appearing in the classroom, turning in assignments late, etc. by all academic metrics they should be disregarded and graded down but its clear this is abnormal. Often times the students don’t realize there are resources available to them in their varying situations, and once they get some sort of help they get back on track.

Like the professional development series, students need to be educated on how to function beyond their degree program. Even many grad students need help in maintaining the whole person through their program, but faculty too driven by their own needs often push students too far.

As educators we should be able to stand out from the masses if we keep in mind that our students, both graduate and undergraduate are people, and we have a responsibility to keep that in mind and support them in all aspects, not just educationally.

4 Replies to “They’re people too!”

  1. Caring for students really does set up apart. The teachers that I remember today were not always the best teachers because of their awesome pedagogy but because I knew that they cared about me. I still remember one of my college teachers coming into class after an exam and getting really upset about how poorly the class did. He was upset with us because he knew we could and had done better but he was also upset with himself for failing us as our teacher. I remember he said his worries had kept him up most of the night. I still remember the feeling of shame and disappointment I felt for letting him down and how I resolved to do better and be deserving of what we expected from us.

  2. Thank you for your post! I think you bring up so many great points. It can be very easy to forget that students often have a very full course load and have many things going on outside of class too. As educators, we do need to support our students and help them find resources and other support that may be beneficial as well. Great post!

  3. This post reminded me of a conversation that took place in another class having to do with assumptions. I find myself making assumptions about the students in my class on a regular basis. And while some assumptions may indeed be true, I think it is important to be cognizant of this sometimes subconscious practice. I believe that if we are to treat our “students as people,” we should not assume things about them or should at least further explore these presumptions. I find myself assuming things like “oh they should already know that,” about course material when in actuality we may not know which courses students have or have not taken or what their high school experience may have looked like. We may assume that they are not interested or engaged in a topic, when really they may not feel that they have been given the space to speak up and voice their thoughts. Even small things such as the assumption that students will take home their syllabus and read it can cause more harm than good. I think this especially pertains to larger class sizes when it is difficult for an instructor to get to know a student on a personal level and may not be aware of a student’s work ethic and learning preferences.

  4. I agree that the educators should treat the students as people. If we cannot enjoy the beauty of this world, why should we work so hard to make it better? Besides that, maybe we should let the students know that in the outside world, there are people want to push you for their own benefits and you should be prepared for that situation.

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