Friday, December 12, 2008

An instructive example for students

You need at least a C to complete the departmental requirement for first-semester composition. If you get a C- or lower, you have to retake the class.

So I had a pretty marginal student this semester who obviously really hated both me and the class. The look he gave me whenever I ask him to shut the laptop was absolutely murderous. What're you gonna do?

So when I'm grading their penultimate paper, which is a movie review, I realize that I don't have anything from him. I tell him this when I'm turning the papers back. I gave you mine! he lies, completely blatantly and without shame, to my face. How do I KNOW he's lying and that it's not just my disorganized ways? Because when he agrees to give me the paper next time, which I agree to accept for some reason, what he gives me isn't even a review; it's a comparison of professional reviews, which I had asked for earlier but which is NOT THE SAME THING as the assignment, which he really would have known if he had been paying the slightest bit of attention.

This was right before Thanksgiving break. So, because I'm unfathomable generous, I write him an email saying, hey, this isn't the paper. I'll put a grade on it, but it won't be a GOOD grade. Alternatively, you could rewrite it (ie, complete the actual assignment) and get it to me by the end of break, and I would grade that instead.

But I don't hear from him, so I give him an F for the paper. Cause and effect. His final paper is not great but better than anything else he'd written in the class, meaning that he just managed to eke by with a C.

OR SO HE WOULD HAVE DONE. But his failure on the previous paper pushed him down just enough to end up with a C-. He wouldn't even have had to have done particularly well on the paper--he just needed to have done something. So long story short: if he had taken the time over break to do even a really half-assed job, he would have been done with this course that he hates for good and all. But due to his unwillingness to spend even a lousy extra half hour or so on it, he now has to spend another three and a half months. Choices have consequences.

6 Comments:

Blogger Marcus pontificated to the effect that...

Perhaps a few months chasing down Somalian pirates while aboard a fast frigate would get the lad's attention.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

Good heavens. Are you a perfesser yet, or do they make graduate students do this so they don't ever have to come in contact with freshman and sophomore students? What school are you at?

I've seen some peculiar students, also. I think part of it comes from them being given excessive freedom when it comes to choosing classes. Perhaps there is such a thing as too much empowerment. The work I'm doing now is fairly mathematical, so students tend to avoid any kind of mathematical content when given the chance -- and then, when they get a core class that does require math, they are woefully unprepared and complain a lot about how life is unfair.

SK

2:47 PM  
Blogger Marcus pontificated to the effect that...

Well yeah, a life without algebra and calculus would seem more fair. It's much easier to read post-modern drivel, blow off the class and fake it during finals. And you wonder why American kids are still on the bus at half-time? No mystery to me. I'm around the UT campus daily and I'm stunned by the number of undereducated walking around in college student suits. Did not secondary school teach them anything? I wonder as I dodge Beemers, Hummers, and the occasional Porsche or Corvette. Fuck me, I rode a fucking bike and worked sorry ass jobs and had the GI Bill and never owned a car until I was well into being married and working for a living. Kids these days... bah.

8:06 PM  
Blogger GeoX pontificated to the effect that...

I think his temperament would probably be more suited to BE a Somali pirate, honestly.

I am at Kent State (motto: "Respect us! Four kids were killed here!"). There are hundreds of sections of comp, so they need all the people they can get to teach it. I believe rhetoric professors have to teach it; lit--not as far as I can tell. I envy them (actually, it's not that bad; I had a very good section this semester along with a bad one. But STILL). And, there is an army of grad students and random adjuncts and NTT people.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Kaitlyn pontificated to the effect that...

Marcus - "Did not secondary school teach them anything?"

The current generation of college students went to high school under NCLB. It's the rare teacher, the even rarer school with the time and funds to go beyond the requirements of the state.

Not defending all the stupids, just trying to explain some of it.

I do my homework.

*hunches down in desk* Here's all my work, professor, I am so sorry, I never turned in anything late, I'm sorry I didn't understand the assignment, I'm stupid!

God, I keep checking out this blog, and now I feel all weird, since I am a college student. Though I'm a sophomore. At a different school. Who got an A+ in Honors English. I'm sorry "Literary Heritage Honors." (reading).

I'm happy about my grades. Really!

2:03 AM  
Blogger Marcus pontificated to the effect that...

Kaitlyn-
You make an excellent case for homework and I have hope yet.
May the Force be with you.

12:55 AM  

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