Monday, February 21, 2005

more comments on 610 class

This is TO EVERYONE in MBA 610

Whew. It appears the last blog entry did get people’s attention. While I will try to address several topics in this entry, the largest thing I want to stress is that I realize the majority of you are doing the work. Thus the last blog entry was not really aimed at you. This one is.

From the second I left class last Monday I began to think of how to say what I wanted to the class. I had much of the plan constructed before arriving home, but I wanted to sleep on it so as to not sound too harsh. Moreover, I then wanted to respond sooner but opted to wait until the whole class had a chance to see the original entry untempered by further explanation.

Why was I upset? It was not that the grades were poor. Sure I felt that you should have done better but I can live with an occasional poor performance. (and I do realize that it was Valentine’s Day and a Monday after Alumni Weekend neither of which should matter but both do). I was not even upset about people complaining about the workload. I know it is heavy. It is supposed to be. I have thick enough skin to take the criticism.

What did upset me was the fact that during the class more and more people seemed to be giving up. Essentially saying that they could not do it. This is totally false! I continue to have no doubt that you can all do this! And in fact many of you are doing it.

As you all know I love sports, so let’s talk sports for a second. The talent difference between a good team and a bad team is often very minor. What does separate the good from the bad is often attitude. It is the coach’s job to make sure that the athletes have a good attitude and are working towards a common goal.

Both good and bad attitudes are contagious. That is why some athletes with great potential are seen as “cancers” to teams. These players detract from the performances of those around them.
Classes are much like teams. When a few people give up it makes it easier and easier for others to do so as well. When one person develops the attitude that “we don’t want to do the readings”, others quickly adopt that attitude. That is why I was so upset when I saw the “I don’t care” attitude.

To those of you who think my standards (or demands) are too high, I respectfully disagree. Yes I understand that you are busy and have many demands on your time. I also realize that I might ask for more from you than other teachers, but that is because I am convinced that people who attend SBU deserve the best education that money can buy and I am equally convinced that with a bit more effort you can all amaze yourself with how much you can learn.

Many of you have paid in the vicinity of $120,000 for your SBU education. This is roughly the price of a house. Stop and think about that for a second If you were to buy a house, you would want everything to be perfect.

The same holds in the class room. You deserve the best possible education and to be held to the highest possible standards. For me to ignore the problems that were developing in class last Monday would have been paramount to me saying I don’t care and that you can not do the work.

Yes, my standards are challenging: I ask you to read a great deal; my tests are “not easy”; you have to read journal articles (at least at some level). Why? Because that is what top schools do and that is our competition.

Consider for a moment our text. We use the same text book as classes at many of the top schools in the nations. A list that includes Ohio State, Penn State, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Texas, and NYU to name a few. That is intentional. In the job market we will be held to the same standards as graduates of these fine programs. To hold you to lower standards in class is negligent.

A final thought: a coach/teacher is paid to get more out of the athlete/student than the person could alone. Almost by definition this means that I have to push you harder than you want to be pushed. In the short-run this is not much fun, but in the longer run it pays large dividends.

Ok? Let’s put last week’s class behind us (like a bad loss to a sports team) and take it as a learning experience. Going forward I ask that you work as hard as I know you can. And for my part, I will try to remember that even great teams lose an occasional game :) and this class has the potential to be a great team!

BTW I would like to thank the majority of you who took time to write. I will have more on that in a later post.

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