Good Lord, another semester.

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?”

11 thoughts on “Good Lord, another semester.

  1. Cassandra

    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?”

    If you really said that, you’re my new hero for the week!

    VERY quick thinking!

  2. Bobbie

    Yeah, just what the farkle IS it with them–ALL of them–defiantly continuing to spell “definitely” as “defiantly”? I literally had a class–an entire class–agree with the charming child who [defiantly, though that goes without saying, doesn’t it?] told me I was wrong.

    I know where I made my mistake: on the first day of class, I told them I would lie to them–you know, to encourage discussion, to poke at their assumptions, even, perhaps, to PURPOSELY MISLEAD THEM when they have obviously not prepared, in the interest of making the effing point and to the general lulz of all the kiddoes, who, because of mindful prep, are in the know…

    Well, that sucker has backfired: seems I am ALWAYS lying to them. You know, Mark Twain didn’t write …HUCK FINN (mebbe Frederick Douglass did? one child guesses on the test, despite the effing HUGE effing POSTER on the effing WALL in her direct view that must be conspiring with me to lie to them!)

    Yup; we’re just gonna hafta deal with it, and when the next person asks why every freaking member of the ever-encroaching youth thinks “defiantly” and “definitely” are the same word, well, you can blame it on me.

  3. zugenia

    I’ve been very lucky not to encounter any true nightmare students (well, one—I’ll save that story for another day). This semester, though, for the first time in my career, I’m teaching a large intro-level lit course that has a lot of science students fulfilling a humanities requirement, and TONS of them have approached me asking, in essence, what is the “trick” to getting an A in this course. My answer—”Do the reading, come to lecture, participate in tutorial, learn stuff”—is not the one they are asking for. It honestly confuses me. Are they handing out secret passwords in science classes? Or do these students simply have no idea how to approach a topic without a distinct set of correct answers on everything?

  4. fillyjonk

    You know, after reading the “I WILL FIGHT FOR MY RIGHT TO TEXXXXXTY” dude’s commentary (which, I suppose, could be a poorly-done sort of Swiftian thing, where he is really arguing the opposite by showing how idiotic the claims of “I should be able to text in class because MY MONEY KEEPS THIS PLACE RUNNING” are), I think I’ll take the clueless people over people like that any day.

    At least the clueless people thank you once in a while for your help.

  5. fillyjonk

    Oh, and I’ve had more than a few Ecology students come in with the attitude of “I hunt and fish, I spend time OUTDOORS. There is nothing this citified woman can teach me.”

    And then they wonder why they earn Ds.

      1. Bobbie

        Along with “my next store neighbor,” “the ball went out of bounce,” and “in the backround,” they are killing the language, and they are killing me. And they just never get the irony of their self of steam issues…*sigh*.

  6. Nullifidian

    I apologize for my late intrusion here. I just found the RYS article on the Raging Wildflower, followed it to his site, and then followed the backtrack here.

    I’m currently a university student, and I am honestly perplexed by the number of my fellow students who don’t have any sense of shame or propriety. I honestly think that, for all the gold stars they must have gotten merely for showing up, they don’t have much self-respect. A sense of shame is the realization that one is not behaving as one ought, which implies that that one can and should maintain a higher standard for oneself. To lack that is to lack self-respect in a fundamental way, not to mention respect for others. Where’s the self of steam?

    When I began majoring in biology, I was someone who could justifiably claim that I could ace a survey course in biology. I had been reading up on it for years, not just in pop sci books, but also textbooks, technical monographs, and journal articles. I was a nerd (and a jock, but that’s another story). And yet I never entertained the idea that I was too good for a survey course. Instead, I thought my time in the General Biology A & B courses was a gift because it allowed me to explore subjects I never thought I was interested in, but needed a grounding in. All my prior reading had been selective, if in-depth, and now I was getting the bigger picture. To tell the truth, it didn’t change my mind about what fields I’m interested in, but it was valuable information all the same.

    It’s easy to blame the consumer culture imposed on universities by the administration, but I think that’s only part of the problem. Another major problem is the devaluing of education before students ever get to college. In this teach-to-the-test world in which we live, students are unused to the idea that knowing something—anything!—is a good in itself. They can only relate it to how they’ll do on a scantron, in an interview, or on a job. It seems my generation is growing up to be nothing but authority-junkies and that disheartens me more than I can say.

  7. Pingback: … Irritated aka “My Rangers are Snowflakes.” « Online being…

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