Students and responsibilities

 

Sir, – I was saddened to read the remarks of the mother who believes that “University students need structure” (“To Be Honest: A Parent Writes”, Education, February 5th).

As a university lecturer, I have always thought that part of the purpose of a university education was to learn how to manage time and study independently. I am available to my students after lectures, during scheduled office hours, by appointment, and through email.

I find that the vast majority of students who attend my classes (and I take roll, so I know who they are), do the assigned work promptly, display the required critical thinking, and contact me along the way to discuss the material I teach and their progress learning it are “mature” students, often older than I am. They have both children and older relatives to care for and households to run, but their performance is almost always satisfactory and often exemplary. Younger students, however, range from the outstanding to those who cut corners by pasting together papers the night before from what they can find on unscholarly sources on the internet (exactly this group never delves deeply enough to find the real meat available to them there).

The latter remain stubbornly beyond the reach of their lecturers until there is a catastrophic problem.

Any university student who is not in class 12 hours a week and spending an average of 24 hours a week studying is either absolutely brilliant or, and this is far more likely, seriously underperforming.

And anyone old enough to enrol should be old enough to organise their time and to approach their lecturer, who will almost certainly be glad to spend considerable time with them. – Yours, etc,

Prof KATHLEEN JAMES-CHAKRABORTY,

Department of Art History,

University College Dublin.

Belfield,

Dublin 4.