Students are getting dumber, I swear. They are moronic in flocks, like the 25 who turned up to a 3 hour class in the second week of term without a book. It’s a lit class. What did they think we were going to DO for 3 hours, if they hadn’t done the reading? But this is just common or garden stupid. I have a couple who are already standing out from the herd.
Yesterday, I had an series of emails from a student (let’s call her “Precious”) who had missed both of last week’s classes for “personal reasons” she “didn’t care to explain”. Newsflash: I don’t CARE about your personal problems. Anyway, apparently, when she got to the classroom we were not there, and there was “no way” she could find out where the class had gone.
Let’s examine this premise, shall we? There was the info in the Course Outline about the fact that we were doing an in-class assignment in the lab. There was the fact that I had mentioned the room number of the lab in both classes the previous week. There was the option to go upstairs and ask the Departmental Secretary who booked the lab where it was. There was the “wander 3 doors down the corridor to the room marked ‘English Lab'” option (okay, that one might have required some dumb luck). And there was, of course, the giant not written in large letters on the board, which said “ENGLISH CLASS MONDAY, WE ARE IN ROOM XXXX”.
Because of my pathological need to keep the room number of the lab secret, Precious was instead forced to “guess” what the assignment required, and then she handed it in to an unknown location.
Here’s my dilemma: do I enforce my policy which says if you don’t excuse your absence before the in-class assignment you get a zero, or do I read (assuming it ever turns up in my inbox) her 700 word “guess” and give her a grade? The argument in favour of the latter is that it seems like I am doing her a favour while actually pwning her because she wrote a pile of crap, but there is a 1000 to 1 shot that it merits better than a D.
Either way, it seems I am doomed to have to hear about Precious’ personal problems because now she suggests that since this assignment was for marks, she supposes that she ought to give me an actual excuse for her absence. Please.
Then there is Muscle Boy. Muscle Boy is devoted to the gym, and has giant muscles all over his body. They don’t seem to be arranged in any particular order, and I think one of the biggest ones is in his head. He comes to class with a 4 litre container of water, and at least one protein shake. During the class, which lasts a little under 2 hours, he has to break out at least one tupperware meal, presumably because he has to eat constantly to maintain his bulk.
Constant eating does not restrain him from talking, though, which he does at volume. Does he say anything interesting or worthwhile? You know he does not. Generally he is either talking about something with whoever is unfortunate enough to sit within his food spatter zone, or he is asking questions about stuff we moved on from 15 minutes ago.
The other day, I had all the students come to my office in the second half of class so that we could caucus about their topics for their term projects. These meetings lasted approximately 90 seconds each. Muscle boy, who cannot go without sustenance for such a prolonged period, enthusiastically sprayed me with pineapple as he outlined his plan to write about how body-building helps him stay off drugs.