while(self++) { #81 } // The Case for Leniency

As a teacher, I’m in a position where my decisions have direct consequences for my students. Having such power is a delicate thing, requiring the utmost care and sense of responsibility. As much as I feel that I give to my students — my knowledge and mentorship, for instance — I sometimes feel that I take things away from them. When I give difficult exams and assignments, it’s their sleep, their peace of mind, their time. Some say that students “earn” their grade, which (while partially true) feels somehow incomplete. Does granting a student’s request for an extension mean that I’m giving them something? Does refusing mean that I’m taking something away? When is leniency warranted?

And what if the stakes are even higher? A student fails the course. They’re close to passing, oh so close. Where is the line of punishment? Is it punishment? The cases at the edges always are the hardest. But what if a student cheats? When can leniency be given, when trust has been taken away? As a teacher, the questions you must answer, whether you want to or not.

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