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2013-01-31

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February 7, 2013 - 9:37am

The Working Ethic: Do your reading

BY CHARLENE LERNER

We spend a lot of time figuring out how to do things the easy way. We skip a certain lecture because the professor posts the recordings and apply our AP credit to get rid of some of the University’s requirements. These things are perfectly OK to do according to the rules. But what do we say in the case of actually doing assigned readings in our classes, even if we don’t necessarily need to do them to get by or do well?

This could all depend on the kind of course it is. If it’s a course that you’re taking to fulfill your major’s requirements, the fact you aren’t doing your readings in those classes may be more problematic, from an ethical standpoint, than not doing readings in classes you’re taking “just because,” or that aren’t your primary focus. The reason being is that it’s just wrong to have technically completed your major, and attained a degree in a certain field, without actually having done all the work. If we haven’t actually done the work as it was set out for us, and instead skim through articles and books, ultimately forgetting them, can we really claim we deserve our degrees? Even those classes that aren’t as important to you are classes you are taking for the distribution requirements and are ones that nonetheless contribute to getting your diploma.

That might seem like a stretch. Not doing your readings doesn’t mean you haven’t learned and besides, if you could demonstrate the knowledge you gained from studying in a way that doesn’t require reading the material, what’s the difference?

I think this question more leads us to what is right: how else do we get the most out of our education? The thousands of dollars we drain towards just to be here? We really ought to pay more attention to our readings because we’ll be more invested in our classes, and not simply trying to get by — we might even enjoy the process. Ask yourself how your sense of fulfillment from doing the work compares to that of just successfully navigating around it? The only way to find out is doing the work. Trust that it’s a good feeling.

Charlene Lerner can be reached at lernerc@umich.edu.


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