A duty dodged is like a debt unpaid; it is only deferred, and we must come back and settle the account at last. (J.F. Newton)
The fall semester is over, grades have been turned in, and I’m looking forward to a few weeks of rest, relaxation, and sewing before things get hopping again in January. As I looked over the grades my students earned before hitting the final “submit” button, I reflected on how a few of my students disappointed themselves–even though they may not realize it right now–because they did not pass the course.
Now, I’m an educational psychologist who teaches graduate students and professors how to teach college. My job at the university is all about making sure students are able to learn. So, I feel pretty confident that I did everything I could to make sure my students learned what they needed to learn. That confidence is bolstered by the notes and emails from my students telling me how much they learned and they loved having me for a professor their first semester of college (I should note that it is always a humbling experience and an honor to be a part of my students’ growth in such a very short time period).
So, why did these few students not pass the course? Because they didn’t hold up their end of the teaching-learning bargain…even after additional intervention on the part of advisors and resident hall assistants. They missed class too often and my grade book had zeros due to missing assignments.
I want to make clear that these are good kids and I loved being their professor. They simply made unwise choices that led them into the land of magical thinking where skipping class or not turning in an assignment wouldn’t really matter in the long run. Alas, they are finding out that it did and there were consequences for their magical thinking. I’m pretty sure this will be a wake-up call for them and they will turn things around just like I did after my first disastrous semester of college (Yep! I, too, was placed on academic probation at one time).
But before we pounce on these 18-year-olds for not being responsible, let’s take a step back and think about all of the ways we, too, engage in magical thinking. How many times have we clicked the “like” button or repinned a graphic we can relate to about how much time we lose reading “just one more chapter” or spending hours on Candy Crush or binge watching a TV show? I know I’m guilty of it!
(Going into psych prof mode here) Everything has consequences. Everything. Sometimes we like the consequences and continue the behavior that gave us the results we liked. Sometimes we don’t like the consequences…and you’d think we’d wise up and change the behavior so that we don’t end up with the same consequence but some of us keep with the old behaviors hoping that the consequence will change (magical thinking land).
If we don’t do what needs to be done, whether we want to do it or not, then there will be consequences for that avoidance. It may be that we have to stay up late at night to finish the Christmas pageant costumes. It may mean that allergies are going bonkers because the house is in desperate need of dusting and vacuuming. It may mean we end up with diabetes because we haven’t been eating right and exercising.
There are many things in our modern world that are trying to distract us from being responsible and doing what we need to do and they don’t care that we have to suffer the consequences of that distraction.
What are your main distractors from being responsible and what are the consequences you end up paying for giving in to them?
Illustration for collage courtesy of ModernMechanix.com
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