Monday, February 18, 2008

The Woe of Wallflower Wally.

Wallflower Wally was a mediocre student in need of a major reality check.

He sat in the last row next to a chronic web-surfer with middling grades. He was always the first to raise his hand and say something not-quite-on-target, and always snickered when I went to other students for other responses. His quizzes and papers always demonstrated that he missed the point of most lectures and failed to do any of the required reading. He was a casual plagiarist who seemed to think his constant class participation somehow endeared him to me such that I would let his poor citation style slide.

But, the worst and most troubling moment came after he failed an assignment for plagiarism.

You see, he was mad at me because I wouldn't give him any slack. I mean, how dare I expect him to learn how to quote material properly! In a writing class of all places! His participation in class had scaled back (gratefully), which allowed me more opportunity to call on other students without getting back to his (usually superficial) comments.

On one cold Friday afternoon, more than 50% of the class went missing, including Wally. A paper was due that day, so I anticipated several tardies to wander in late (because we all know printers always break 10 minutes before a paper is due). I collected papers from those present and immediately went into my lecture. A few students trickled in during the first 10 minutes, but it was nearly 15 minutes into a 50 minutes class when I felt someone enter the room and stand about 10 feet away from me.

I glanced over and saw Wallflower Wally leaning by the door. He had a paper in hand, but made no movement toward me or toward his seat. I was mid-lecture, asking and answering questions, so I just left him standing there. It felt like forever! But, I knew he had to learn a lesson.

Eventually, Wallflower Wally started fidgeting, so I decided to release him from his torment. I turned to him and asked if there was a problem. He tried to hand me his paper and I told him to put it on the table next to me because I was in the middle of teaching. Wallflower Wally then started to try to engage me in a conversation...right there in front of the class!

Poor Wally seemed to think that because the weather was so bad, that he could be exempt from attending class. Except, well, here he was...right in front of class. I told him I was not going to discuss a private student matter in front of the class, wished him a good weekend and went back to lecturing. He left in a huff. I rolled my eyes, turned back to class, and all of Wally's little clique of morons (isn't it funny how they form little flocks of ignorance?) looked at me as if I had just stabbed them through their collective hearts. No one else even blinked.

Wally's work was so atrocious that his grades for the rest of the semester skidded into the toilet. He blamed me for every bad grade because he could not grasp that his choice not to do homework, to disengage from class work, and to avoid learning basic writing skills were the criteria for which his grade was based. The poor little snowflake seemed to think his "effort" was enough, and that class participation, no matter how inane or mediocre, warranted passing marks. After he was awarded the D he had richly earned he even e-mailed me to tell me how unhappy he was with his grade! Hah!

But, alas, Wally and his friends [none of whom was a star student, by any means] got their revenge on course evaluations, wherein they accused me of all sorts of crimes, from not calling on the black students because I was a racist, for promoting homosexuality by showing perverted images from popular advertisements, to providing unclear grading criteria designed to make them fail because I so obviously hated them. In the end, I only wished I had tortured them more so they would have dropped early in the semester.

To each of them I shout [and quote an oldie but goodie RYS post], "May your perfidy ramify through your life"!