It occurs that I haven’t written a post in a while. This is because I was comatose, enjoying the break between semesters, eating, drinking, procrastinating and watching Foyle’s War. Of course, I was also using this time to choke down my raeg, and gird my loins.
I have been pondering the issue of student entitlement – there’s so much of it, and we talk about Generation Snow, and everyone has their stories to tell. (This morning, I got a good laugh out of this guy, whose name alone is worth a chuckle or two.) I also spent some time on my break talking to a student who is genuinely FURIOUS that his university professors won’t give him 100% for learning 75% of the material for his courses. No, seriously. Stop snorting. His argument was that since he only needed to know 75% of the material, the other 25% was just there for suck-ups who wanted to impress the professor.
Plus, they are making him take classes on stuff he already knows. He knows that stuff! And then he goes into class with a shitty attitude, and doesn’t do very well! Even though he knows the material! It makes him angry!
Let’s call it Too Good for This Class syndrome. There’s this student (most often male, but sometimes she’s female), and for whatever reason – innate arrogance, a lifetime of having his self of steam stroked, procrastination over doing my petty little Freshman Comp course – this student comes into the classroom on Day 3 (having missed Days 1 and 2 because, you know, who needs introductory information), convinced that I have nothing to offer and that he or she really just should be given an A for being just that awesome.
Here’s the thing: some of these students might be bright, they might be able students who are capable of getting good grades… Okay, some of them are dipshits like the Groomer, who can’t spell and wouldn’t know a supported argument if it bit them in the ass, but I digress. Even if they are students who have previously been successful, they will often shoot themselves in the foot by assuming that this class that the institution has mandated that they take, and will not let them test out of, has nothing to offer. So they don’t attend, and they assume they know what’s going on and they do all the things that bad students do, and they end up doing badly in courses where, yes, they probably ought to have earned an A.
The issue here is the confusion between the ability to earn the grade, and the impression that you deserve the grade.
I had one of these last semester. She would come to class (when she came, which admittedly was not often), and would sit and sigh audibly. She refused to participate in class discussion, and fairly rapidly stopped coming to discussion classes at all. The course was structured so that there was a discussion class each week, followed by a writing lab, in which students did practical writing exercises based on the ideas we had discussed the previous class. Missing the previous class meant that this particular student always thought she knew what the writing assignment entailed, but she always missed the nuance of what was required. Well, to be fair, sometimes she missed the point altogether, and on occasion she handed in work that was full of grammatical and spelling errors.
When I pointed this out, she told me that she had already taken Advanced Composition (the level above this class), as if that excused any errors. Dude. If you have taken Advanced Comp, why are you still spelling “definitely” as “defiantly”? Wait, don’t tell me.
She got angry about her grades, and complained that she should be doing better, as if it were my fault. Well, I wasn’t recognizing her genius. I suggested coming to class, an idea that was met with utter derision.
When the major research paper was due, she handed hers in without the required coversheet(It’s a pedagogical thing I do, not an asshole bureaucratic thing. I SWARE), triggering the following exchange:
Me: Where’s your coversheet where you amusingly try to predict your grade?
Her: What sheet?
Me: The one we talked about in class, that I gave out, like twice, in class.
Her: I didn’t get one.
Me: Maybe that’s because you didn’t come to class.
Her: HMMMMPH!! [followed by taking the sheet, filling it in, and then flinging her essay at me. Flung essays always get better grades.]
After the final (during which she wrote a rant about how incensed she was about having to take my class – fabulous, would lol again: zero out of 10 – she came up to me and said asked if I could recommend any books she could read that would help her with her writing style.
Resisting the urge to stab her in the eye with the knitting needle I was conveniently holding, I replied, “How about the textbook for this class?”