Wednesday, February 01, 2006

It's like a rash...

Ancrene Wiseass posted just recently about a student who wants AW to basically plan class around her absence, implying, among other things that other aspects of her life are just way more important than attending class, and that class is boring anyway. (Be sure to read the comments. And if you're a student, and have any doubts about how your professors feel about this sort of behavior, they'll clarify things.)

The Cheeky Prof, too, relates an email from a student she considers "cheeky" (which only makes me jealous that I can't just use it too, because it says so very much). Cheeky Prof's student assumes that s/he can just transfer from one section of a class to another.

This is all beginning to feel a bit like a meme, isn't it? (And is "meme" pronounced "me me" or "meem," as I'd pronounce it from anthro and stuff?)

I've had one extraordinarily amusing (see, I wish I could say "cheeky") student email this past week. Disguised to protect the innocent (yeah, the innocent), here's the basics:

Dear Professor Bardiac (yes, when students want something, I suddenly acquire a title),

I was just informed that the grade I got in your class means that I'll be forced to retake the class again. Was my work really that bad? Couldn't you just change the grade so I don't have to take the class again? If not, could we get together to talk so that I could do something to get the grade changed so that I wouldn't have to take that class again?

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, /s/ Student

My mind just boggles. I'm supposed to change the grade? Does she think I didn't realize that the grade she earned which I put into the system meant that she'd have to retake the class? (as she would have known if she'd read the university requirements.)

And what "something" does she have in mind? Is she thinking she can write an extra journal or essay or something, and I'll be thrilled to read more not very good work and raise her grade? (Because, realistically, she earned the grade she got through doing not very good work; why would I want to read MORE not very good work, or how would that possibly raise her average meaningfully?)

OR, could "something" have been meant to imply something a little more, errr, interesting? Is she, to recall that OLD joke about the prostitute who offers to do "anything" a guy wants for $200, going to "paint my house"?

To be honest, I think she just hasn't thought through the implications of what she said on that kind of level (and would probably be shocked that I might see implications there, but then, I'm pre-reading the "Miller's Tale" so my mind is just right there). She certainly hasn't thought about the practical implications: imagine if EVERY student who wants a higher grade were allowed to do additional work AFTER a course ends. Heck, even I'd have managed decent grades as an undergrad with that sort of system.

And then, of course, there's the troubling ethical thing, but I'm sure she didn't even imagine that.

Nope, she imagines that it will be TORTURE retaking the class... Thanks, I'm so very glad to know you felt that way about the semester.


  1. Yeah, this kind of thing drives me insane. A whole lot of students seem to think that, if they mess up and don't do their work, they can always "fix" it later by acting contrite and offering to do something other than what they were originally asked to do (and usually something far less challenging).

    A lesser manifestation is the student who misses a class and then wants to know how she can "make it up." By doing what, my dear? Banging erasers together after class? Nuh-uh. Wiseass don't play 'dat.

    Show up. If you absolutely, positively can't show up, then catch up with somebody else in the class. That's what grown-ups do, see? They take responsibility.

    I can't figure out exactly where this attitude is coming from, but it's definitely clear that too many of these little darlin's have been coddled too much for too long by too many people.

  2. It's really surprising when undergrads miss classes as a routine because they don't want to get out of bed, or leave their playmates, or just do the coming-to-class thing, but then the graduate students who just miss days and weeks at a time and then show up in class and participate in class discussions with no shame. They don't ease into their seats, they walk in with confidence and take their seat. I want to say, "Who are you and where did you come from. Oh wait, you were here day one, but where have you been since?" Alas, they are in all walks of academia.

  3. Tsk. Shakespeare scholars are so dirty-minded. Not at all like the civilized and demure medievalists.

    It is kind of amazing that she wants to barter about grades now. I would answer with something like
    "I'm sure re-taking classes can play havoc with one's schedule. However, the university considers it necessary that you acquire the skills to do well in classes like mine before you graduate. Those skills really can't be demonstrated with one project or paper."

    Now I've had a horrible thought. What if she actually could do better all along, and was simply holding out on you?

  4. Yep, Zelda, folks with attitude exist at all levels of academia, and beyond. I really should be used to it.

    Heocwaith, I'm absolutely convinced this student could have done better in my class by putting in more honest effort. She figured she'd slide by with a passing grade, but a passing grade doesn't mean you complete the university requirement, oddly enough.