Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Help For Sheldon.

I'm also a college student, and Sheldon sounds just like my flatmate. She cries hysterically whenever there's a deadline due. By the end of the semester, I'm spending most of my day listening to wails of anguish. Sheldon needs to get his shit together and learn some coping mechanisms for everyday problems, otherwise he's never going to get anywhere in the real world.


I used to have the wrong idea about students like you. I thought that all students who didn't turn in assignments were lazy and didn't care, even if they seemed to genuinely enjoy the material. And I got a little offended that I had put in all this work, and the student wasn't willing to do the same.

Then my wife confessed to me that, as an undergrad, she chose not to turn in a few assignments for a class in a subject she loves (and in which she now makes a living). It didn't make sense to me, since I'm the sort of person who always did every assignment, even in classes I hated, because that's just what you do.

But she loved learning, and she liked this class, and she just didn't feel like she'd learn that much more from these particular assignments. Maybe she was wrong, but maybe she wasn't. I don't know. Not all assignments are perfectly designed to enrich a student's learning experience; some are purely for assessment purposes.

Naturally, her half-assed efforts earned her a "D" in the course, and she didn't care. She learned what the course had to teach, and I gather that she told the proffie she enjoyed the course (which might have perplexed him, as it would me).

From this, I learned not to mind having students in class who don't do the work, and I learned not to take their actions as a personal affront. I'm an adult, and you're an adult, and not turning in an assignment has consequences, and as long as you're okay with those consequences, well, more power to you. Just don't come bitching to me to get a higher grade or an extension or an excusal of unexcused absences. As long as you're aware that you may fail and don't mind learning for learning's sake (and possibly having to pay more for future semesters if you fail this one and are aiming for a degree), it's no skin off my back.

It's not the student-shows-up-to-class-but-doesn't-turn-in-work that we hate, it's the student-shows-up-to-class-but-doesn't-turn-in-work-and-then-demands-an-"A"-and-casually-mentions-that-his-or-her-parents-are-lawyers. You don't become a snowflake until you beg for things you don't deserve.

So, Sheldon, if you really do participate actively, love learning, and treat the other students and the proffie with respect, you'd be more than welcome in my class.

Also: In college, you learn how to learn. You've already discovered your deficiencies. Now spend the next few years learning how to overcome them. It's not something you'll fix overnight, but it's not impossible.

And: Does your school have a Writing Center? If so, holy crap--go directly there before you spend another week staring at a blank computer screen. They're there to help.

But most importantly: If the references to suicide are at all real and not just facetious, go directly to the Counseling Center.


We all have problems. What makes you a snowflake is imagining that you are the only one that is filled with dread at the thought of writing a paper. Let me tell you, we all do things that make us depressed - and we do them with a smile. That's what makes us grownups. What I tell my students when they act like you is that you get no credit in this world for knowing things, just for showing that you know things, through, like, papers. And presentations. If the thought of writing an essay makes you so ill that you cannot function, then you my friend need to either get yourself some psychological help, or get yourself out of my classroom. I have my own fears and issues to deal with, I don't give a damn about yours.


Your problems are not about snowflakery or whether you belong in college. You are depressed. Please get help, and the other problems should become manageable.


Failing a class doesn't make you a snowflake, silly; failing a class and then expecting to be treated according to different rules than all of the other students who are failing the same class would make you a snowflake. Take responsibility for what's happening to you, and you won't be a snowflake. There, that wasn't so hard.