Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Erin From Erie Spends Her Weekend Writing Some Heartfelt Letters to Students Who Probably Won't Appreciate the Effort.

Dear "Good Student" Sam,

Thank you for your e-mail informing me of your "good student" status. Although you've never once stayed after class, come to my office hours, or e-mailed for help about how you are confused in the material, this single e-mail about you being confused about how you are doing so poorly in this class is appreciated. You say you've never gotten a grade below a D-, and as such you are are a good student and the F in my class is a complete shock. Oh man. I am totally going to re-evaluate your grade. I mean, how could I live with myself if I gave an F to someone of your obvious genius!?


Dear "Good Student" Sally,

Thank you for coming to my office hours. When you stopped by with a question I was excited - I love when students take initiative and ask about material they don't understand. Your question, your first question to me ever even though we are halfway through the semester, wasn't on the material though. It was about why you were failing. After all, you, like so many of my other failing students, are a good student. You get straight A's. You set me straight, too, when I implied that maybe you'd gotten A's in some classes, but this might be your first Science class and may require different study habits from what you're used to. But no, you've taken a science class. You took the pre-introductory class that doesn't even transfer, is roughly equivalent to high school work, and is designed for students who aren't prepared for the class I teach. You did well in that course! You got a B-! I will put that in my pipe and smoke it. After all, a B- in one course virtually guarantees you an A in an higher-level course, right? How silly I am to believe otherwise!

...But wait, you only got your B- after getting a C- in the introductory course. ....And, actually, that C- was replacing an F. In the pre-introductory class....

....So okay, maybe I'm not shocked you're not doing well the first time around in my class. It seems you are only a "good student" your third time through a class, and this is only your first time through mine, so let's both relax, shall we?


Dear "Practically have a PhD in being a good student!" Paula,

Imagine my surprise when you showed up in my office today. When I announced one class that I gave extra credit on the last exam to people who showed up to my office hours, or made arrangements to meet me outside my office hours (or phoned or e-mailed), to ask questions on the material you practically threw a hissy fit because it was absolutely impossible for you to get to school at any single moment you didn't have class and so the extra credit was unfair.

I can't honestly say I'm surprised that you're choosing to spend this impossibly obtained time not asking questions about the course but instead complaining about how your paper earned a "B" and not an "A". I am a little surprised at the screaming from a woman of your age, but if the six screaming children you've brought along with you is any indication, I guess I can write that off as genetic....

Yes, you were marked down for format. Yes, you were marked down for using direct quotes. However, before screaming, "show me in the syllabus where it says I can't use direct quotes! SHOW ME IN THE SYLLABUS!" maybe you should take a few minutes to flip through the syllabus and make sure it's not in there. Cause gosh golly, if I were in your shoes and said that and then my prof pulled out the syllabus and turned to page 3, pointing to the line, "do not use direct quotes in any assignment - everything should be in your own words," let me tell you, my face would be SO RED. Of course, the situation would be slightly different because I, unlike you, a) would never say that to my prof and b) am capable of feeling a modicum of shame. What else but a lack of shame could compel you to then move on to scream, "well where in the syllabus does it say my paper can't be written as a bullet point list? SHOW ME IN THE SYLLABUS!" Can you not guess there's a line in there saying that everything must be in complete sentences? No? Well, let me show you - cause it's in here, too!

I do so adore that your response is still not one of shame for screaming at your professor because you ignored rules that were clearly stated in the syllabus. It is the usual defense of "I have straight A's!" Not only straight A's though, you have "a Master's! And practically a PhD!"

Which just leaves me to wonder why you're here, taking this introductory class. With a Master's (practically a PhD!) and six kids to support, shouldn't you be putting that Master's (practically a PhD!) to work? I can only guess that the Master's (practically a PhD!) is either in a useless field or completely imaginary.