Opting In: A Guest Post by Wayne Borean
Wayne has eleventeen-seventy-hundred blogs, but his writing blog is called Through the Looking Glass. I try to stay off it because if I leave a comment, he yells at me and tells me that I should not be reading and commenting on blogs, but rather I should be working on my own book. He is right of course.
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Mr. Field was one of my Grade 13 math teachers. In 1975 there were three Grade 13 math classes, all of which were first and second year University math classes by American standards.
Mr. Field was a card. He was probably one of the funniest teachers in the school. He was also one of the hardest working, and he made us work hard through a combination of charm, humor, and energy. No one ever skipped one of his classes. No one ever wanted too. All of the Grade 13 classes were full year courses.
Mr. Field gave us an exam at the end of January, and we were all getting ready to start a new module in the first week of February, when Mr. Field told one of us near the back of the class to close the door.
He sat on the corner of the desk staring at us for a minute, with a funny smile on his face, and then announced, “I want to tell you that you’ve completed the entire years course of instruction, ten months worth, in five months. All of you have passed. Congratulations.”
There were a series of thuds as jaws hit the floor all over the room. He then continued. “In September I looked at the class, and it seemed to me that you were far more capable than the ministry thought, so I decided on a test. I’ve been feeding you the course material at twice the pace that the ministry thinks right since the first day we meet. Yes, you really have finished the entire course. You now have a choice. You can show up for class every day, we’ll discuss a mathematical problem, and then have an open discussion. We won’t be taking attendance for the rest of the year. Or you can take the class as a spare period. It’s up to you.”
The entire class decided to show up for class every day, and we did for the rest of the year. A couple of times when people needed to take time to study for tests they asked permission to “skip” the class. Mr. Field was quite amused. Each time this happened he pointed out that he wasn’t taking attendance, but everyone kept doing it anyway.
Great teacher, Mr. Field. Great teacher.
If a teacher told you that you did not have to come to class anymore — that you had passed the course — would you still attend? And if you could audit one class “just because” and not have to worry about grades, which class would you take?