You care too much

One of the things that I always struggle with is how to help someone without doing it for them.

It’s the same thing the U:PASS leaders struggle with when they’re trying to help students. I have had several student leaders in the past few weeks who have been struggling with students who aren’t engaging – they might not bring their textbooks or lecture notes, they might not engage in the group activities, they might just sit there and copy down the answers that the other students have worked out.

The reason the leaders struggle is that they care. I wouldn’t employ them if they didn’t demonstrate that they care about others, if they weren’t compassionate, other-person centred and responsible.

And so I have these conversations often and I remind the leaders:

The reality is this – U:PASS is only supplementary. Students will need to do work outside of U:PASS in order to understand the material. Simply coming to U:PASS, and never actually engaging in the material, will not get the students to pass. One hour per week, when lectures are often 2-3 hours, will not be enough to pass.

And whose responsibility is this? It’s the STUDENT’s responsibility. The student must, at some point, take ownership of their own learning. Until they do, they will probably fail. And that is ok.

U:PASS leaders can only do the best job they can to provide a facilitated friendly study environment. They cannot do the study for the students. They should not do the study for the students.

But they will care about their students. Which is why we have this conversation.

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About Georgina Barratt-See

Georgina manages the UTS U:PASS (UTS Peer Assisted Study Success) program, which assists students in 50 first and second year subjects with study sessions run by trained student facilitators. Georgina has 14 years experience in the Higher Education sector with interests in student leadership, mentoring, first year experience, teaching and learning.

5 responses to “You care too much”

  1. Dana Kim says :

    Wow! This is what I was exactly looking for. It makes me feel much less pressure about a student who always get struggling with solving questions. Thank you, Georgina. You are amazing! 🙂

  2. Anne Gardner says :

    Some academics struggle with this too. I remember what a burden it was for me to carry around until I consciously decided to design my subject for those students who actually wanted to learn the material – the tightness left my shoulders and neck almost immediately. So now I advise students what I think they should do to learn the material (and hence pass the subject) and I am happy to answer any question from a student who is having difficulty understanding the material, but if a student is not interested in actually learning the material then I let them take the consequences of their decisions – which may very well be failing the subject – but this may be the best lesson for them to learn.

  3. Carroll says :

    This is also a great skill to learn for parenting 🙂

    • Georgina Barratt-See says :

      Oh absolutely Carroll! I know that it’s something I can see helicopter parents struggling with (with the usual caveat that I aint a parent so take my comments about parenting with a grain of salt!!)

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