End attendance policies for classes

Before the enactment of hunting laws, the Maasai tribe of Kenya and northern Tanzania sent boys as young as 12-years-old out into the wilderness to slaughter a lion with only a spear in hand and a thundering heartbeat. It was a right of passage. Now look at college students, most between the ages of 18 and 24, still being monitored under juvenile class attendance policies. I was naïve in believing that college was a place where the emergence of adulthood dissolved pesky paternalism. This realization gives me the uneasy feeling that college is less about education and more about playing by the rules. But if the rules are inefficient and burdensome, then they must be reformed.

An attendance policy does not take into account students who posses the ability to learn independently. Why should a student be coerced into listening to a professor simply repeat the words that are already in a textbook? Everyone at the University is literate. If you are a student that feels that they need to go to class in order to better comprehend the material or if you have questions to ask, then by all means, go. But this collective force to attend class must end. I am not saying that people who have the ability to teach themselves are superior in any way to those who prefer classroom interaction — but self-learners are being unfairly punished by attendance policies.

In one particular class of mine, I sat in the back and read the dictionary, circling my favorite words and discovering new ones. I was only there in the first place to put my signature on a sheet of paper. I was not trying to be disrespectful, but time is extremely valuable. Why should I let this time slip away paying attention to a lecture I feel I'm getting nothing informative out of when I could engage in a productive activity? This is not a rallying cry to slack off on schoolwork. If you sign up for a class, you accept the work assigned to you. But what some professors do not realize is that forcing students to show up to class may in fact hinder their ability to do the best work they can. Some professors' teaching methods are not compatible with some students' learning methods and once again, time is extremely valuable. I hope this letter does not alienate the professors who teach with passion and make lectures relevant to the assigned schoolwork and exams. These are the classes that I make every effort to show up to, regardless of attendance policy.

Let the students who feel their thirst for wisdom is not being quenched sufficiently enough in the classroom pave their own road to success. And let those who skip class because they are too lazy or hung over succumb to the fate of their own hedonism.

I would have liked to make this letter slightly longer, but I'm late for class.

Eric Kern is a School of Arts and Sciences junior.


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