It’s a little pot pourri.
Marking when it is piled up at the end of semester makes professors exhibit their eccentricities more obviously. Professor Hobbit closes his door, but leaves it open a tiny crack so that he can periodically step out into the corridor, glare up and down, and then dive back into his cave. Professor Prankster reacts to this by thinking of things to do to spork Prof. Hobbit, and drawing as many of his colleagues as he can into his evil plots. They exemplify the essential divide between the hibernators, who put “Do not Disturb” signs on their doors, and the procrastinators, who suddenly become all social and friendly, and will even chat with their sworn enemies about shoe shopping.
Sarcastic Bastard made a student cry a couple of weeks ago for writing “Maybe if you spent less time on Facebook and more time paying attention in class, you would not have failed this assignment”. Since then, he has been racking up the notches he makes on his marking pen every time a student bursts into tears. I think the fact that one student wrote the comment “So MEAN!” about me is making him competitive. Today, I had a student in tears, although she kind of ruined it for me by saying “If I cry it isn’t your fault; I’m getting my period.”
Little exchange between me and a student who is trying hard, but is a little too obsessed with grades, and tends to overlook the obvious:
Her: I’m a little disappointed in my grade, because I tried really hard. You know I can’t get a C+ in this class.
Me: Well, clearly you can. I think your issue is that you don’t want a C+.
Her: So what was wrong with my essay?
Me: As it says in the comments, you didn’t have a clear thesis.
Her: But I showed you my plan, and you said my thesis statement was fine.
Me: Yes, but did you put your thesis statement from the plan into your essay?
Her: You mean that exact sentence?
Me: The one I put a checkmark next to? Yes.
Some academic sites and online reference resources have started including citation information on their pages, to help students with referencing. It’s a nice idea, although I prefer it when they provide this information in a recognised format like APA or MLA, rather than making up some wacky style of their own (I’m looking at you, Oxford Reference Collection). Which leads me to this little gem, found at the end of a student essay:
Jokinen, Anniina. “The Life of Sir Thomas Wyatt.” Luminarium. 14 Apr 2004. [Date you accessed this article]. <http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/wyattbio.htm>.
You can make it so all they have to do is lift a pinky finger, but you can’t make them lift that pinky finger.
Mikey, attempting, possibly, to explain character development in a novel, went into a 5 minute incoherent explanation of how monkeys, when you have one over here, and you put another one over there, will change appearance. The class listened to him, transfixed, until he wound down. Bewildered, I asked if anyone cared to provide an interpretation. “Are you talking about evolution?” one student asked. Apparently not. Also what it was not was chameleons. There are no monkeys in the novel, just in case you thought there might be some kind of tenuous connection to reality.
Suck-up student brought a box of mini-donuts to class today, and I took the leftovers back upstairs to share with my colleagues. “These are from a student?” asked Darwin; “Have you eaten one? How are you feeling?” It’s not like that, I swear! She likes me.
We were discussing The Great Gatsby in class, and I was trying to make a point about the reflections on materialism in the book.
Me: So, have you noticed anything about how much the characters in the book drink?
Dumbasses omnes: Yes! They are always drinking!
Me: But that book is set in the 1920s in the US; is there an issue there?
Smartass Dumbass: Prohibition, duh.
Me: Does anyone in the book seem to be at all concerned that they are constantly doing something illegal?
Dumbasses Omnes: No. Not really, no.
Me: So, does that tell you anything about these people and their characters?
[pause while their brains grind into gear]
Pothead Dumbass: No, why should it? I mean, I smoke pot, and I don’t care that it is illegal.
Smartass Dumbass: There’s a surprise.
I read an essay with the following sentence in the introduction, “This essay will have a conclusion.” And it wasn’t even true!