I lost three students in the woods last week. They decided to head off to McDonalds instead of completing their assignment during our outdoor field trip. I located them easily enough — rather than do a search through the woods, I simply text-messaged them. They answered half-way through their burger and fries. Idiots!

It was a few months back when I began this new job at the college I've taught part-time at for over twenty-years (Sir Sandford Fleming). It's titled the Dual Credit Program, and is made up of high school students who take on a college credit course — Environmental Leadership — while still going to high school. It's a very popular course, more so for students who find regular high school just a tad boring.

My Friday class is made up of students who are already in a high school outdoor education course (wish they had that when I was in high school) and are excelling in their grades but need more of a challenge in their education. The Wednesday class is the opposite. It's made up of "students at risk," those who are not doing well in high school and are at risk of not getting their diploma. The idea behind taking the student s at risk into a college system is to get them enthused about education so they will continue on and make something of themselves.

It's an awesome concept. We spend every Wednesday in the woods, identifying trees and doing water and bird studies. It's a tough deal for them, actually. If they pass then they gain a college credit and also obtain their high school diploma. If they fail, however, they fail everything. It's a last chance approach. And for most, it truly has enriched them and has dramatically altered their ideas behind gaining a post-secondary education. But for some…they're a little slower at figuring out how lucky they really have it. Which is maybe why the three students didn't think it was a big deal to leave my field trip in the woods a week ago and go to McDonalds! Worse, the parent who picked them up didn't think it was an issue either.

I kicked the three out of the program; and at the time the high school principal was behind my actions. But oddly enough, the three showed up to class this week? I asked them why they were back, they giggled and replied that their punishment had changed — their retribution was to finish my course! I guess I'm naïve to how easy high school has become. I'm a Generation X/Baby Boomer. Back in my day there were consequences for your actions. For example, for the student's first assignment only two handed it in on time. I then took off the mandatory 10% per day for being late, which meant all except two students failed. They absolutely freaked on me, stating that it wasn't fair and that they should be allowed to hand in an assignment late. They complained to their high school, they had parents call the college. Holy crap! A fight between other high school students started up in the hallway due to the stress level. Those students were kicked out — and, you guessed it, they were back the next week. No surprise, they were the same ones that took off on my field trip to go to McDonalds.

Here's what really gets confusing for me. The courses we teach at the college are fun. The students are engaged most of the time because they are learning about cool things. The assignment most of them didn't bother to do was on animal observation. What environmentally friendly, nature loving student wouldn't want to do an assignment on watching and recording data on an animal living in the woods? I just don't get it.

We'll see what happens, I guess. I'm still dedicated towards changing these student's views; and how I'm planning on doing that is during another trip to the woods next week. I'll drop them off and go to McDonalds myself, while nature sorts their selfish attitudes out. This technique hasn't failed me yet.

Stay tuned.