Contemplative Practice East & West
(Religion 117)

Attendance Policy

Class meetings for this course will rely heavily on interactive learning in the classroom: frequent focused small group discussion, polling ideas and insights from the class as a whole, and lecturing that relies on intermittent student responses and questions. This type of interaction can be a great asset in developing the thinking skills highlighted in the “Objectives” section of the syllabus; and such learning cannot take place without your being physically and mentally present in the classroom.  In addition, your presence at retreats and (for practitioners) sitting sessions will also be essential. Although outward verbal expression will be less frequent in these settings, the reflection and occasional conversations that emerge from your contemplative practice will be essential for processing the readings.  Therefore the most fundamental requirement for taking this course is coming to classes, retreats, and (for practioners) weekly sitting-sessions consistently!

Articulating in detail my policy regarding attendance matters helps both you and me to know exactly what is expected.

Impact on Your Grade

Attendance affects your overall performance in three important ways, as noted below.

1. During class you will often receive logistical information, which will help you to complete readings or assignments correctly; you will also be submitting reading notes every Thursday. If you miss class, then, you are likely to miss some detail of the readings or assignments; and if you are absent when I call for your reading notes, you will receive a zero for that week (see "Guidelines for Reading Notes") If you miss class--for whatever reason--call a classmate and make sure you know what was announced and what subjects were discussed. (I recommend that you initiate your own conversation with whomever you talk to, even if it's just for five minutes).  Note: although I may be able to fill you in on some of the details you missed, it is your responsibility to find out what went on during your absence.

2.  Physical attendance is a basic prerequisite for mental and emotional attendance; and mental and emotional attendance (i.e, preparation and participation) are what allow a student to score well in the course. Although participation is not explicitly evaluated in this class, my experience has consistently been that active participators score higher in the end. Here's why: students who attend consistently are also consistently motivated to prepare; and then, coming to class prepared, they are consistently better able to make sense of the readings; articulate questions and ideas, whether in conversation with others or simply in their own notes; and to make connections with sources and concepts they have encountered before, an essential skill for completing assignments. Then when they sit down to write, they have already drafted their thoughts, so to speak, in their notes to themselves and statements to others. Inevitably they are farther along in the process, and have more time to write and revise thoughtfully.

3. Most concretely, by attending class consistently you receive ten free points just for bringing your body through the door and plopping it down on a chair! (Note that standing students will also receive credit.) Conversely, one of these ten points will be subtracted from your attendance grade for every absence that is not explicitly certified as excused (see below). Essentially this means that your final grade is lowered by one point for every unexcused absence. While this may not seem like much, it may end up lowering your final score as much as a full grade.

4. Finally, consistent attendance may help raise your final grade for the course, especially if you are on the border between two letter grades (e.g., B-/C+, A-/B+).  Conversely, even a few absences will almost surely guarantee you the lower of two possible grades.

Excused Absences

Reasons for absence will be considered on a case by case basis.  Your absence will be considered unexcused until and unless you present documentation to explain it, no later than the next class that you are able to attend.  If you miss class and don't discuss it with me upon returning, I will assume you feel there is no valid excuse.  In general, an absence will be considered excused only for the following reasons, any of which must verifiable through either the Dean of Student’s office or some college department:

• family emergency (either death or severe illness, verifiable through the Dean of Student's office)

• incapacitating illness (verifiable through the Dean of Student's office; if chronic, let me know in advance what special provisions you will require)

• athletic competition (advance notice must be given at the start of the term)

• graduate school or job interview (seniors only--advance notice must be given at the start of the term)

The following generally do not constitute valid reasons for missing class:

• Sleeping late due to inadequate planning, faulty alarm clocks, unreliable roommates, etc., is not a valid excuse.  It is your responsibility to use whatever combined means you find necessary to wake up for class--unless of course you are incapacitated by illness or condition, as mentioned above, which you should discuss with me.

• Having too much work, or tests or other deadlines for assignments in other classes, also does not constitute a valid excuse.   I certainly agree that you have too much work!  Still, that is part of the challenge of a liberal arts education: to learn how to manage activities of different kinds, by distinguishing between essential tasks and things you do quickly or skim over.  As noted above, attendance in this class is one of your essential tasks.

• A doctor's appointment scheduled during class time is not normally considered a valid excuse, unless you are severely ill and need a same day appointment.  Advance appointments must be scheduled outside of class time; any special circumstances must be brought to my attention prior to the class you miss.

Overview & Objectives

Policy (TOP)

Required Texts

Schedule of Topics & Readings

Writing Exercises & Reading Notes

Notes on Written Work