Feckless frustration ...

Before you get irate about the title of this post, check out what feckless means.

Over the years I had motivated students, students who coasted and those who were alas a waste of time. It may seem unfair to label students in such a manner, but having taught 1000's you do get to see a varied and interesting cross section.

When I started in the 90's, I recall a student who joined us early in my teaching career and meandered their way onto a BTEC national (level 3). Never impressive, their work ethic was minimal and by the time they completed the second year was a 'pass only' candidate (after two tries at year two).

So, already three years with the college, the culture of the time was 'bottoms on seats'  so some colleagues found it difficult to turn away students. Having a successful Computer Maintenance / Systems Support strand. We were into the second year running of a successful 'Networking' Diploma using another vocationally oriented qualification. Sadly against my wishes, this student was enrolled onto this qualification at their wish, in spite of the fact they were re-entering the same level and by now should be either engaging in gainful employment or at least studying at a University (dont get me going on grade entry criteria).

Continually feckless and no better now than any other of their previous three years of study. The student who was by now an adult and pushing twenty, with a group of students many at least two years younger decided to 'goof off' in my lesson.

Not a good move ....

Once I had verbally ripped their head off, bounced their ego around the classroom a few times I publicly asked them a valid question ...
"why are you wasting your time here, because at the moment you are wasting my time and the time of the college"
I continued teaching to stunned silence from the class and to be honest never thought much more of the conversation.

Over the next few months, there was a transformation in this student, not that I noticed at this time. Everything apparently handed in on time and to a high standard, they progressed onto one of our higher education courses. Became a software developer and completed a stint as a lecturer for the college.

My recollection came back, when at my leaving 'do' they came and thanked me, "for the serious bollocking as they needed it", in their own words "I was the first person to put it to them straight". It was their recall of how the day panned out, helped me remember, sadly you do so many sessions and enough 'disciplinary' events of little note that it is easy to forget.

They are now a senior programmer for a well known organisation in the education sector and in my view a success at what they do and someone I am pleased to consider a professional friend.

But, lets be honest, I don't recommend this pastoral technique when teaching, it is likely to backfire.


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