Mar. 17th, 2014

pennswoods: (221B Baker Street)
Since moving to Sweden, one of the other things I find really aggravating and where cultural norms clash is in student email requests. As I mentioned in my last post on education in Sweden, educational socialization is different from that of the US. There are no titles used and there is an emphasis on democratizing education such that students are meant to have a greater say in the system. This leads, I find, to more demands of accountability from the students to the teachers which take the form of more accusatory emails than I am used to getting from students in the United States. The below is an example of one I received today from a student who was put out that she/he bought the wrong books for class and wants me to explain why I changed the reading list at the last minute. I did not - she/he was obviously looking at an outdated reading list, but the fact that she/he felt entitled to ask that I justify myself is what I find grating.

Hi!

I would just like to ask why you changed the course littratture list in the last minute. Because I thogut I had bought all the books. But now i turns out that I have the book "Test your pronunciation" by Michael Vaughan-Rees and i do not have "The ins outs of English pronunciation" by Sylvén and Liss Kerstin!

I like to know why becasue it said the first book until like a week ago and I bougt all the english books to part 1. And the books are not cheap, so I really would like to know why, I could have used that money for food instead of a not needed book.

From Future Student

******************

On bad days, when I'm feeling really stressed out, this type of email angers me. Rationally, I also know that some of what I am encountering are differences in expectations and perhaps linguistic and pragmatic norms because my students are having to compose these emails in a second language. (Though I do get a fair number in Swedish as well). This is where being able to dig deep and compose a compassionate but informative response is necessary, even when the email puts me in a bad mood. And this takes some mental space. Fortunately, I am done with teaching/observing for the day so I was able to compose the below response, which I think is sufficiently understanding and informative (and also requires the student to maybe look up a few words).

My response behind the cut... )

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pennswoods

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