About students and horses

Oh my… it looks like a joke, but the last time I posted something here was… an year ago!!!

I (and everyone else around me) have been very busy preparing for the new academic year. A new curriculum, graduate school prep, and of course all the normal work that we do at the college everyday running in parallel.

It is really interesting how life happens and, suddenly, posting on my personal page looses its priority. In 2021 I worked really hard trying to rescue some students. Most of the time it worked, but unfortunately, not all times. I’ve realized the meaning of “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink“. To be honest, I started to think that some times “leading the horse to water” actually becomes a bad thing because the horse becomes lazy. Why should it look for water if someone will guide him anyway?

Well, as most things in life, there is no easy solution to this problem. As an educator, I have always done the utmost to … educate. Seems obvious, but what I mean is that from my point of view a professor (specially a university professor), is someone who will pay close attention to his pupils and make sure to help them develop their skills and overcome their difficulties. This cannot and must not happen only inside the classroom. The classroom iteration is cold, pre-defined and limited. It serves as an important place to gather information about a student, but corridor talks and the day-to-day interaction (including meetings) work better when you try to understand why some students cannot perform basic tasks satisfactorily.

In 2022 I have set a new objective for my teaching: this year I want to try gathering students together to work on their thesis. I have done it before and the results were amazingly good, but as I received more attributions at work, the idea slowly faded away. Just like in previous years, I have inherited many students from other professor for various reasons and, to be honest, it has been quite difficult to grab those students and have a talk. The idea of getting everyone together in a seminar-like style seems to be a good idea, and I am going to make sure it happens.

Once again, I am leading my horses to water. Are they going to drink it? Although we all know the answer to this question, I believe the important point here is how to convince the reluctant ones to drink.