Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We, Too, Are Pulling For the Widgets

When I accepted a one-year post at your university, I was happy and excited. Your school prides itself on its rising academic reputation and fiercely loyal alumni. Never mind that I had spent the past two years teaching your hated crosstown rivals (the Widgets), who you considered beneath you socially and academically. I thought the change would be refreshing. Boy, was I wrong.

Despite the fact that you all pride yourselves on being quite intelligent, you have the study habits and learning skills of retarded sea cucumbers. When I gave out homework assignments to your hated enemies across town, I’d expect—and get—about half a dozen e-mails and office hour visits about the material, usually within 48 hours of giving out the assignment. I always welcomed this, as it showed that they were actually taking an interest in their education. When I gave you homework, I’d hear nothing from you until the beginning of class the day it was due—and then all I’d get were complaints about how hard and confusing it was. There’s a reason why I posted my e-mail and office hours on the syllabus, people!

When I taught across town, it never occurred to me to grade on attendance. I assumed that students at an elite research university were capable of taking responsibility for their own education, and they were. I taught classes with about 40 students enrolled, and on most days, about 37 showed up (and out of the missing 3, usually at least one of them would e-mail me to say why he/ she couldn’t make it).

And you? Let me tell you how much I love spending hours prepping lectures and class activities, only to show up and find that out of a class of 11, only 2 bothered to show up. This happened on several occasions, too. And the only people apologizing were the honorable few who actually did show up—they told me that this was precisely because I didn’t grade on attendance and didn’t give pop quizzes. You’re paying something like $1200 a unit to be there, and you need to be tortured into going to class??

Of course, this isn’t all your fault. Some of the blame lies on a university culture that places more value on resume-padding “community service” than on academics. It’s pretty obvious from the kinds of excuses I’ve been getting for your half-assed class attendance and mastery of course material (desperate letter-writing campaigns! last-minute event-planning crises!) that you are used to profs giving you a pass so you can go out and Make A Difference. And that the B’s and C’s you got from me (which would have been D’s and F’s across town) were the first you’ve seen in your sorry little lives.

My fault was assuming that your school was an actual research university, as stated disingenuously on its website. This, I’m sure, is meant to disguise the fact that it’s actually Slytherin with a football team.

Of course, you’re all too arrogant and full of yourselves to recognize yourselves in this. To which I have a two-word reply: Go Widgets!