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Lazy Students

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by 911turbo, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. I privately tutor adults. My PGCE is in lifelong learning. They
    normally pay me on time, in advance and because this is private
    tutoring I don't wish to rock the boat and lose my money, but they
    don't work! I prepare their lessons and do put in the time and effort,
    I set them homework but they rarely do it. They are too old to
    reprimand and I remind them how hard they need to work (they are trying
    to complete a second year A' Level in a year with only two hours a week
    of teaching, so they do need to work!) and urge them to do the work and
    give them plenty of guidance but to no avail. I motivate them with creative worksheets, powerpoints, quizzes, etc.Admittedly a few of them
    are doing it for fun...? (I didn't quite get that, but still) but the
    others need this qualification to get into nursing, to be a vet,
    etc.Yet they still chat through my lessons (I try to bring them back
    all the time to the lesson) and make some very ignorant and offensive
    comments that make me cringe (and again I do say tactfully how to widen
    their thinking). Obviously I don't wish to put them off as they could
    turn around and say that it isn't worth it, give it up and I will lose
    my job! I recognise this is the problem with private tutoring...but
    they will fail at this rate. Any useful tips please [​IMG] (Tried in the private tutoring but no one seems to know)
  2. I think this is a problem for many of us in FE. There are no answers to this, but I can give some suggestions that relate to the motivations of students. What we are talking about here is 'desire' and 'purpose'. In order for anyone to learn anything in a meaningful way, we need to know why students are there in the first place and what the purpose of their attendance may be.
    We have barriers that stand in the way of theoretical teaching, in that it is very difficult to communicate meaningful knowledge outside of the context in which that knowledge is played out. Students often cannot imagine or make sense of theory for which they have no prior 'real world' experience of (the exceptions to this is mathematics, logic and students who are already disposed to book learning. Take middle class kids for example, they know the purpose of learning, that is connected to social mobility, and they have been disciplined and socialised into homework - working class kids arguably have a different disposition to things like homework, book reading, and bahaving in class). So you need some hooks, that are tangible.
    So I would perhaps try a different approach to pedagogy - use some videos, films, case studies to try to engage the students. Perhaps organise a field trip to a vets or hospital. Get to know your students better and ask them what they hope to achieve, then help them. Call in an industry expert who may volunteer to give a demonstration or lecture about their lives as a nurse or vet. The problem with theoretical curriculum is that most of it is forgotten or is not meaningful without experience. Perhaps produce an assignment to be researched by groups of students - give each group (3 or 4) a task that involves research, followed by a presentation and a comparison of views - get them working instead of thinking that knowledge can be communicated verbally or through teaching.
    Inform the students that 'responsiblity' has multiple dimensions in education. The teacher has some, the students have some and everyone has a responsiblity to the other. Once this is established the pedagogy may be developed to include stories, narratives or examples of student's experiences. This fosters a sense of desire and purpose, and in turn a responsiblity 'for' and 'with' the other.
    Good luck!
  3. Thanks Simon. I like your advice, it's great.However, it is a very small group of 5 students. Though I like the idea of them working towards a common goal in the lesson. I think I may try that! Thanks. I think they do rely on me to communicate all knowledge. I do use films, videos and case studies to enthuse them more and to see the link to real life. Though I love the idea of helping them to research in the lesson together, the most I have ever been able to get them to achieve is completing a crossword in the lesson! They don't make notes; the most they do is contribute through discussion but this is hardly ever relevant to the lesson! I also am aware of their goals and why they are there and it surprises me really that a couple of them want really high grades. I wonder how they really hope to achieve that when they don't even do their homework! I won't give up and will keep trying. Thank you for your help.
  4. How very odd. They are paying you to get them through an exam. That is your task and their goal. How about a reality check? Give them notice that you are going to do a timed paper under exam conditions. Mark it according to the criteria set by the examining board and give their papers back the following week. Allow the grades achieved to speak for themselves. Perhaps then they will become more realistic about what they need to do.

  5. I think this would be odd if we were talking grammar school, but not in FE. In plumbing qualifications its normal to have students that are not engaged with the theory, but excell in doing the job.
    I will try to use some theory to illuminate this situation, Foucault offers some advice, as when defining normalcy creates a category of deviance (and vice versa), we punish to restore the legitemacy of normalcy.
    I got this from Burbules's 'ways of thinking about educational quality'. He quotes Ranciere:
    'Identifying an educational aim always defines a deficiency. Establishing certain knowledge as valuable, for example, automatically creates a group that lacks it; indeed, the only knowledge that is valued in this way is precisely knowledge that only a relative few possess. The existence of an ignorant population, in turn, valorises the attainment of that knowledge'.
    Sorry for the quotes, but I think they are relevant to many of our practices, and this problem is becoming common, in my own experience. Tests are made to be failed, perhaps we have forgotten this.
  6. But it isn't FE - it's private tuition. They're paying someone to get them through an exam. This is a very difficult kettle of fish to FE where students' goals are much less explicit, more culturally complicated and where they don't pay a fee. These students have made a conscious decision to pay someone to teach them. Foucault's theories of deviance notwithstanding, the tutor and the students have agreed a contract: I'll pay you to get me through an exam, you'll ensure that you provide me with the means to do so. The contract is muddied by the tutor's fear of jeopardising his/her financial remuneration. In their turn, the students, whilst recognising that the attainment of the appropriate knowledge gives them at least a chance of a crack at their ultimate professional aim, find a bit of a chat and some light entertainment a much more inviting proposition. But they'll be quick to criticise the tutor if they fail their exams, particularly if they have shelled out some dosh.
    They have already identified that certain knowledge is valuable and that some groups lack it, namely the people who aren't vets or nurses, which is what they want to be. Of course tests are made to be failed. If a vet doesn't know where a cat's liver is, he's no kind of vet. If a nurse doesn't know something about bacterial infection, she's no kind of nurse. Valorising particular attainments of knowledge is fine by me - I am thankful that when I next go to the doctor, I have prima facie evidence, by virtue of his/her medical degree, that he/she at least has some passing familiarity with biology, anatomy and pharmacology. Even then doctors don't get diagnoses right. But their bit of knowledge provides at least a fair chance of getting it right. Ignorance provides a very low chance of hitting the right button.
    When a student and a tutor enter into a financial contract I am not sure that theory is an issue. The situation is one of instrumentalism. Provided the tutor makes it clear what needs to be done, demonstrates evidence of what needs to be done, and continually re-emphasises the student's responsibility for what needs to be done, he has fulfilled his contractual obligation. I don't think that cultural theory matters much here.
  7. Good post cardoon,
    I misinterpreted the 'private tutor' bit, this being an FE forum, I thought he meant in the context of institutional FE. So there is merit in what you say, about the instrumental aspects of this arrangemtent.
    However with regard to qualifications and socialisation (social theory), there is very much a connection here, as education is a composite of these functions (the missing composite function of education here, is vocation). The situation reflects what qualifications have become in certain sectors. Like you say about medicine, qualifications reflect the value of knowledge and this is something our community puts trust in. In times of 100% pass rates for those who hang around long enough in FE, qualifications, I would argue, are losing their social function, as community trust is eroded.
    I think we both agree on the issue of 'responsiblity' here, which afterall, is at the root of all vocation.
  8. I recently did a peer observation of a A level maths class in an FE college. There were 8 students and two were mature, and the others were 16/17 year old. The teached made it quite clear at the start of the lesson that she was going to cover one chapter from the course book every week in order to get through the course material. It meant working at great pace through the work, and it seemed to get the students attention in terms of what they needed to achieve.
    The teacher clearly had a set SOW and didn't deviate from that if a student had missed a lesson, or if the students didn't really apply themselves during the lesson They did seem to get the message that there was a lot of work to do and that they must get through it.
    I wonder, do your students have a very clear view of the topics that they need to cover?
    Did they all get good results in their year 1 exams, with just as little work? i.e have they lulled themselves into a false sense of security?
  9. I teach volunteers who attend with a view to getting into employment. I agree with doing the assessment at the start of a session to show them the gaps in their knowledge. If they are studying for a professional qualification towards a profession this can sometimes be a wake up call.
    You could also set aside some time to discuss why they are doing this course, where are they hoping to go with it after they complete it (and pass). You say some are looking to be nurses in the future...may be they need to know what they need to know to get into nursing...there are some ideas I could suggest

    What knowledge does a nurse need to be good at their job?...a bit of research maybe on nursing...
    A bit off the wall and only if you can do it...maybe contact a local teaching/nursing school if there is one in your area and arrange for those students to either go along to a training session to talk to actual nursing students or invite one of their students to talk to your students about their course and what they need to get into nursing. I taught law and some of them were looking to go into the police or as a barrister. Fortunately I had contacts in both and arranged for them to watch a session in police training and a barrister to come and talk about what they do and what they had to do to get into the work. Some of the students came back with a renewed sense of purpose.
    You may not be possible but maybe something to think about?

  10. Thank you very much for all your support and advice. However, the situation has altered in that at least one of my students has now revolted and I have added a new post [​IMG]

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