Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Almost Like It's Not Summer. Madison from "Moron-ia" Lights Up the Compound Switchboard.

Fantastic. Thanks for publishing the cat from Moronia. That shit was crackers and cheese, baby. It was like sticking a ballpoint pen right into your juggler! Yep, I remember being an undergrad, and during that time I didn't have a bunch of jagoffs letting me get away with the type of b-izzle-shit celebrated in the post.

I couldn't get extensions on every assignment, so god dammit I learned to do things on time. You'd be amazzed at how useful that bit of information is when you're an AH-dult. Oh, and absences. Yep, had I not learned it in college, I'd still be trying to tell my current employer that I needed a few more excused absences because I let that Grey Goose get on top of me t'other night!


Yes Madison, I do remember college.

I remember drinking and missing class because of it. I remember not doing essays because it just didn't sound like a fun thing to do. I remember all the other college mayhem.

But I also remember respect and responsibility. Unlike today's snowflakes - I never got upset with an instructor because I was absent for 2 weeks and didn't understand the material. I didn't bitch to instructors that they were unfair because they would not extend me special privileges denied to the rest of the class.

Okay, some are still teenagers. But most of them are over 18 and are therefore defined as adults. It's time they grow the F up. In my time it was at worst a snow flurry of snowflakes. These days it seem like the classrooms at my college are outright blizzards.

I do remember college, and that is what gives me the perspective to say that our snowflakes of today - are full of crap.


I ask Madison, what am I supposed to do to facilitate those "lightbulb" moments? Because if I let the students dictate the pace and the content of the course, there wouldn't be any shouts of "Eureka!"

When I try to structure my material to be challenging or--dare I say: thought provoking--I get nothing but grief. And why do I take plagiarism, not following instructions, or deadline aversion personally? Because they have the gall to try to turn these infractions into ammunition against me. "You didn't tell us we couldn't copy this from the web." (True. Let me add that to the script. Whatever line of instructions is subsequently omitted will surely be the source of next semester's debacle.) "You weren't available when I needed this to be explained to me." (True again, because I was sleeping at 3 a.m. the morning it was due. I could give you an extension, but I'm going to be asleep at 3 a.m. on that day, as well.)

And the evaluations go something like "Instructor wasn't clear with instructions. Instructor wasn't available to answer questions." And I'm about to tell Socrates to shove his method up his ass because the students only want answers, not more questions. Trying to encourage them to think about things with any type of depth, giving them time to struggle with ambiguity before guiding them, these things come back on evaluations as "This teacher doesn't know the subject matter." They never remember the fact that I was there at the end of the exercise with the post mortem. They only remember that I didn't serve the answer to them on a platter, so therefore I didn't know the answer either.

Oh, and let's not forget that I suggested that there could be a variety of answers, depending upon your approach, your evidence, your argument, etc. That just makes me more incompetent in their eyes. "Just give me the definitive answer so I can spit it back to you on a test." No lightbulbs here.

Next semester, I think I'll just have them dump vinegar into baking soda for 15 weeks.


I am certain the Madison from Monona is going to be blasted with the usual barrage of well-articulated profanity and outrage that seems so prevalent on this website.

Unfortunately, those individuals will miss the very valid points as well as some disturbing implications that can be gleaned from his (or her) post.

First, should professors learn not to take the kinds of activities listed by Madison personally? Absolutely. Students are rarely malicious. They are frequently thoughtless, ill-prepared, and lazy. Such adjectives can be applied at one time or another to the entire human race. However, it is also very human to feel affronted when students don't seem to care about your advanced degree, intense preparation, or dedication to the class. But that is life and it isn't unique to academia.

However, I do take issue with the idea that deadlines should be flexible, excuses are always acceptable, and the only criteria is "get the work done." I believe that without some kind of structure you do students (especially freshmen) a disservice.

There is value in producing a quality product. But there is more value in producing a quality product within a given time frame. The world won't wait for these students to get their act together. Assignments must be completed and time must be managed in order to be successful in almost any occupation or endeavor. Personally, I am unsure that Madison's students are learning the lessons that he or she has in mind. Do they actually learn to try and put together a better project? Or do they learn that an earnest and heartfelt story told to the professor will allow them extra time to procrastinate? I would hope for the former but suspect the latter.


Madison, those "Events" you blather on about -- the ones that ultimately teach students that they actually have to give as shit and try -- are provided by hard deadlines and actually holding them responsible for their work. Changing deadlines at the last minute, granting extensions consistently, allowing them to skip class with impunity...all this does is show them that you're a fucking pushover.

I bet if you were to read your ratings at the Other Site We don't Mention, you'll see that students think you're a fluffy little unicorns-and-puppy-asses pushover. "Teaching them how to write is my job. Teaching analysis is my job. Teaching citations again and again: it's my job."

Hey, dipshit: part of your job is ALSO teaching them to be responsible adults who can work within given parameters without getting whatever company is desperate enough to hire them headaches because they blow deadlines, call out unexpectedly or get the company sued for lack of documentation.