I think I speak for all teachers when I say that the most stressful part of a semester is that time when we are required to show students their final marks. During the spring semester, this stressful point occurs at mid-term, for these are the last set of marks on which the universities will base their decision to accept a student or not. This is a frustrating period because some students are quite adept at making the teacher feel entirely responsible for the mark the student has received and for the future that these students believe is theirs as a result of such an average.
I do think that teachers have to be careful not to play with a student's future, and we must take care to evaluate them with a very objective, fair and equitable approach, and I do believe the latest approach to assessment and evaluation is the right one and the direction that teachers ought to take. But I also believe that the current level of anxiety among students regarding their marks and future is highly inordinate, and it is this inordinate anxiety that can and often does lead them to do very imprudent and sinful things, some of which include lying, cheating, plagiarizing, and sometimes very serious acts of revenge that murder the reputation of a teacher. This latter response is tragic, for it not only damages innocent lives, but the liar's lie returns to destroy him: "What does it profit a man to gain the world, but lose his soul?" (Mt 16, 26), and deliberately destroying a person's moral reputation is worse than murder and ends ultimately in the loss of heaven (Mt 5, 22).
In recent years I find myself challenging students to fear less. I've tried a number of approaches. First, a biblical approach. More than twenty-three times Jesus exhorts his followers not to be afraid. The New Testament is replete with "fear not..." "do not be afraid...", "let not your hearts be troubled...", and the Old Testament is filled with much of the same. "So why are you worried?" I ask my students. The source of their worry almost always seems to center around their ability to eventually acquire temporal goods and life's necessities. But consider the following: