The Canadian classroom attendance crisis

Slacker. Courtesy of
Slacker. Courtesy of

There is something you should know about me before you start reading this article, for a bit of context. I am one of those students who sits in the front of the classroom with their hand glued to the ceiling, answering every single question, and reminding the teacher (or professor) if they forgot to check the homework. I always have been and I always will be. So, I apologize in advance if you ever have a class with me, but I take my education very seriously. I have noticed, however, that there are a few of my fellow students out there who don’t. I don’t want to criticize them or anything along those lines, but I have some pretty strong opinions when it comes to appreciating education. Mostly, I have a problem with the fact that the majority of my classmates use their class time as their they would their personal time to roam the bowels of the Internet, that is, if they even actually show up. There are many reasons this bothers me. First of all, it’s just a plain old waste of money. It has been estimated that the average student will spend around $80,000 on their undergraduate degree when all expenses are considered. During Orientation Week, I saw a presentation about the breakdown of our tuition and, as it turns out, each class comes down to about $25 for an hour and 20 minutes and $50 for those good ol’ 3 hour classes. So, for each class you skip, you are literally wasting between $25 to $50. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to waste that kind of money.Please don’t think I’m trying to tell you to go to class if you don’t want because that is not what I’m saying. I know that if you don’t want to go to class, you don’t have to. We’re all adults now. But if you do attend when you don’t want to, you are way more likely to be on Facebook, Twitter, playing Candy Crush Saga, browsing Pinterest, YouTube, or on Skype, distracting the whole class while also disrespecting your professor at the front of the room. Dr. James LeClair, a Health Studies professor, teaches BF290 (Brantford Foundations- Academic Literacy: Social Sciences) this semester and has definitely experienced this frustration. I asked him about his opinion when it comes to students in class through an email and he provided a very insightful answer. He stated, “When I arrived at Laurier-Brantford in 2007, we didn’t have wireless internet. I wish that we still didn’t, or there was a way that I could jam it. There are so many distractions, and there seems to be so little self-control. I’ve seen rows of students texting, working on other assignments, even playing games, and I always wonder, ‘What’s the point of being here?’ Showing up to class is not the same as attending class. It’s an incredible waste of time, money and opportunity.  As one of my colleagues puts it, ‘when people around the world are desperate to get an education, and in some cases put their lives at risk to get it, is it too much to ask our students to come to class and pay attention?'”

I think there needs to be a serious attitude shift around how lucky we are to have the opportunity to get an education. Also, it is not all about just getting the credit, doing the minimum, or whatever excuse people use to not go to class. It’s about educating yourself, enjoying and appreciating the opportunity you have and
respecting yourself enough to give yourself the tools to succeed. And yes, you are incredibly lucky to be here and have the option to go to class. Some people don’t have the option at all. With the recent media stories around Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who advocated for her right to an education and was shot in the head by the Taliban as a result in mind, I think we should really try to take a step back and appreciate the fact that we can choose if we want to go to class or not.

It’s not just children like Malala who have to fight for their right to get an education, there are even students here at Laurier Brantford who are part of a program called World University Service of Canada (WUSC) that, according to Laurier’s Council for Social Justice’s website, “is an international NGO [Non-governmental organization] that works towards promoting education around the world….through the Student Refugee Program. […] which sponsors students living in refugee camps to come study in Canadian universities”. Even though I don’t personally know any of these students, I am pretty sure that they understand the gift of education and probably try to attend as many of their classes as possible. I wonder if some realize how incredibly disrespectful it is to someone who was not chosen for this program, who may have sincerely been hoping to attend, to find out that you are taking advantage of this opportunity they may never have. Think about that.

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