Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Culture Shock: Doing the Work

As my class ran under time today and students left about half an hour early, it occurs to me that the decision to cut things short was met with enthusiasm -- not because my students hate taking my classes (I hope!), but they've just been conditioned through years of education to get out of class as soon as possible.

This sort of thing doesn't happen in industry. If I'm working as a game designer and spontaneously decide to take half of the afternoon off, the rest of the team isn't going to heave a sigh of relief that I'm leaving (nor is the publisher, or the client). But here, my "customers" are perfectly happy if I'm not doing the job I get paid to do, at least to a certain point. It's rather unsettling, really.


Jason Tocci said...

I found this pretty jarring myself when I started teaching. I rarely skipped classes as an undergrad because I calculated that it was costing me about a dollar per minute of class time to be there, so skipping out is like throwing away a wad of cash. On the other hand, many undergrads aren't paying for it themselves, and (to be more charitable) sometimes you can get more done on your own time than you can in class. Maybe we can convince ourselves that they're going home to work on all those final papers early.

Lewis said...

I never treat students as "customers" or "clients". I treat them as my employees. They have a job to do, and if they fail to do it often enough, they'll be fired. But a good supervisor can maintain a fairly enjoyable job atmosphere.

In the case of class ending early--which almost never happens in my classes, anyway--then it's "the boss let us go home early", which is an almost universal reaction to extra time off the job.