Snow day strikes backIt seemed like students had only just finished celebrating the survival of Snowpocalypse 2014 when we received news that administrators planned to reschedule missed classes—on Saturdays, no less. Unlike the snowstorm, student backlash to this plan was completely predictable.
Since a fair number of students already choose to skip regularly scheduled lectures, there is little reason to expect many students to attend these make-up sessions. Many of the larger classes are already recorded and posted online, and, as a result, there is often little reason to wake up on time and sit through these classes in person. Those who do attend often drift into the comforting arms of the internet’s many distractions. In light of this, asking students to turn up on a Saturday—a day that remains sacred to exhausted young adults—is a tall order. Classes scheduled post-LDOC, in particular, appear downright unreasonable.
It is possible, however, to look at things a little differently. Coming perilously close to catastrophe at the hands of three inches of snow might breathe new life into the academic community. Maybe students, rested after a snowy sequester, will be driven by more than mere obligation to frequent their classrooms and lecture halls on those designated Saturdays. Perhaps the snow days have thawed the deep-seated academic curiosity and profound appreciation for education we know all students to possess. Fueled by this rekindled appreciation, maybe everyone, from freshmen to seniors, will pry themselves out of bed and hit the books with renewed vigor. Perhaps students will recognize that they should not pass up the opportunities for personal and profession development that each hour in a Duke classroom offers; they will remember that they stand to gain important skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
In turn, professors might go out of their way to make this investment worthwhile. Understanding that attending class on a Saturday requires unusual dedication and foresight on the part of their students, they may repay their students’ enthusiasm in kind. Perhaps they will detach themselves from their research and the thick veil of academia, if only for a day, and put their students in their highest priorities. Maybe professors known more for bombast than clarity will take advantage of the unique circumstances to break from their traditional teaching patterns and engage with their students in new and refreshing ways.
When we slip into routines, it is easy to mistake opportunities for obligations. Make-up classes might not seem like a big deal, but it is important not to take opportunities, whether courses or clubs or concerts, for granted. Missed classes remind us how valuable—and how costly—our education is, and we appreciate that the administration and professors are willing to schedule make-up classes. If students and professors approach make-up classes with the right attitude, maybe these sessions will be about more than completing a certain number of course hours, or squeezing in required teaching time, and just be a chance to learn something new.