Lazy is the New Stupid.

I’ve been saying this for a while, and now it’s totally turning into a koan. Let me illustrate with some examples.

Exhibit 1: Sighing Saul

Last semester I had this student, let’s call him Sighing Saul, who was doing terribly in the weekly writing assignments. I was getting really frustrated because every week, I’d write the same kinds of things on his paper, like “saying the article is ‘fucking stupid’ isn’t really appropriate, especially if you aren’t providing evidence of its fucking stupidity.” The next week, there would be the same mistakes. Anyhoo, week 6 or 7 rolls around, and suddenly Saul storms out of the room, muttering something about “fucking bullshit”.

A couple of classes later he comes up to me, muttering something about how I “may have noticed” his tantrum of the previous week, to which I admit that, yes, it might have been something I saw out of the corner of my eye. Well, says Saul, he hadn’t actually bothered to look at the feedback on his first 6 assignments, so that was why it came as a bit of a shock to him that he was failing. Got that, everyone? LOOKING AT HIS GRADE WAS TOO MUCH WORK.

Shortly after this discussion, Saul came to see me about his research essay, which was “too hard”. After about 15 minutes during which I made suggestions about ways he could approach the task, during which time Saul sighed heavily, rolled his eyes and then sighed gustily, I said, “Look, this actually does require some effort on your part. You have to think about it and do some reading.” His response was to drop the class. Better luck next time, Saul.

Exhibit 2: Chatty Charlie and Yakkity Matt

Both these guys have the same MO; they talk a lot in class, and clearly have decent ideas, but when it comes to sitting down and doing any actual work, they prefer to bail. Charlie sent me at least 24 emails proposing topics for his essay, searching for one, and I quote “that would be easier to write”. When I finally snapped and told him to pick one from the list of his suggestions I had already approved, he dropped the class.

Matt mysteriously forgot to hand in the first couple of assignments, plagiarized the third, and pulled a “I forgot to send it to you” which was debunked by google docs for the 4th. I am still waiting for his most recent assignment, but I am not holding my breath.

The thing about both of these guys is, they are seniors who are still getting tripped up by Freshman Comp. They are clearly both capable, intellectually, of doing the work; in fact, it should be easy for them. Dropping my class solves the problem temporarily, but they are both running out of time. Charlie told me this was his “last semester”. Not anymore.

Exhibit 3: Slackerman

I know, these examples I have given you are nothing new, just part of a regular pattern of snowflakery. Perhaps this is true, but this last guy, this one takes all the cake, and eats it. Except that’s probably too much effort.

Slackerman didn’t do the first couple of low-stakes assignments. Then, just when I was about to write him off as someone who was going to fail for not handing in any work, he produced a 150 word paragraph, for an assignment where the requirement was a 750 word essay. It was kind of a half-assed 150 words, mind you, not some fancy-ass soul-of-wit type thing, either. I (kindly, I thought) gave him 1/10.

Slackerman emailed me about his grade, begging for me to “at least give me 2/10” on the grounds that, I SWARE I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP, he “tried real hard”. Got that? Producing 20% of the required work for the assignment constitutes, in his world, “trying real hard”. Leaving aside the absurdity of the notion that effort rather than results should be rewarded, how in hell can that pathetic amount of effort be considered sufficient? It took every ounce of self control for me not to write back “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” but I managed it, instead providing some temperate comments about the requirements for university being rather more rigorous than those he had perhaps encountered at school. No response.

For his next effort, a 2000 word research paper, Slackerman produced one page (approx 300 words) of text. Appended to it was a note explaining that his computer had “done something” to his essay, and that this was all he could produce. I emailed him, pointing out that if he took a day to try to fix the computer problem, the late penalty of 3% would be a better bet than letting the 300 words stand as the whole essay, since he was forfeiting considerably more marks with this incomplete piece of work.

His response? “No, I’m good.”

12 thoughts on “Lazy is the New Stupid.

  1. Zeph

    Allow me to articulate my inability to comprehend the blatant stupidity and supreme lack of logic with a deadpan, “what”.

  2. Allison

    There was an article in my local paper yesterday, in the Op-Ed section, written by a college snowflake in which she lamented having to put up with terrible professors. Professors who wouldn’t change their lecture style from chalk-and-talk to something more whiz-bang with the latest technology. Professors who were using the tenure system to develop a sense of entitlement about their jobs to the point that they stopped doing their jobs. Etc.

    I really wish I could just send her a link to this blog, and CM, and simply say “See what WE have to deal with?”

  3. DeafDumbAss

    Stupid is the New Lazy

    Stupidity, ever rampant in higher education, seems to be the cause of laziness. Though if lazy is the new stupid, sign me up: I’d rather be lazy than stupid any day. Perhaps I am both. Perhaps I am neither.

    I find sheer entertainment value in this blog; however as an aspiring professor, perhaps because of my naive nature, I find the belittlement of students to be a bit distasteful. Whatever happened to a genuine desire to teach one’s knowledge to the developing undergrads? Perhaps it takes a special person to overcome their own superiority complex, and sincerely attempt to make an impact on the education of the aspiring educated idiots.

    Having not had the experience of ever instructing a classroom, my opinion may be of little value, however my goals and aspirations lead me to conclude that such a cynical take on students is counterproductive to the learning process. Attitude is everything. I find that professors I have that repeatedly vent about their students even in the classroom leave a bitter aftertaste in my mind. In the mind’s mouth, a careful koan can be sweet or condescendingly bitter. Students can tell the difference.

    I understand the need to vent, and the comical value of such venting under the veil of the internet’s anonymity; however I am questioning whether I really want to work with colleagues who consider their students stupid and lazy.

    1. whatladder Post author

      Aren’t you cute. Come back after your first semester teaching 3 sections of Freshman comp, and we’ll see if you are still shocked and horrified.

      Also, you might just want to check out the idea of “internet persona” vs “teaching persona”. You are naive in more ways than one, my little pearl-clutcher.

  4. DeafDumbAss

    Pearl clutcher? Maybe. Naive? Very. Unaware of internet personas? Not at all. I do believe there is a sliver of truth in any sort of alter-ego or internet persona.

    1. Allison

      You’ve come to a block that’s about one professor’s life, and SOME (not all) of the students that that professor encounters in the classroom and out of it. You have no idea how many students that this professor enjoys teaching. If you’ll bother to look back in the archives, you’ll find that there are many, many entries regarding students and classes for whom the author expresses appreciation and fondness.

      Go blogshit somewhere else if you don’t like the entries here. I hear that Prof Hacker at the Chronicle might be a good fit for you.

      1. DeafDumbAss

        Dear Allison,

        Thanks for the tip about the Chronicle and ProfHacker. I thoroughly enjoy his attitude. I also enjoyed your usage of “blogshit” and find your tone to be endearing. If fact I won’t bother to look back in the archives, because I’m going to take your advice and quench my thirst for blogs on higher education elsewhere. Sorry for intruding on the Smart Professor Club.

        An inferior intellectual being.

  5. Allison

    @whatladder – well, it does seem as if he’s looking for puppies and kittens and unicorns farting fairy dust about students, so it seemed like a better fit. Of course, he couldn’t be bothered to look at your many, MANY posts praising students and expressing admiration for their talents. No, he’s gotta come swanning in all high and mighty, chastising you for being human.

    Gotta wonder what he would think of CM.

    1. Burnt Chrome (@BurntChrome1)

      Maybe he’s on CM right now, in the persona of a certain SS. FFS, what I can’t understand is, if you don’t like it, why bother whinging about someone else’s viewpoint on an anonymous blog? Why not close the window and not come back?

      WL, I will admit to being curious as to why you stopped posting on CM (haven’t seen you there lately, and found your blog bc you followed me on Twitter).

      And I completely agree. DeafDumbAss (could you have picked a more accurate handle? I think not!): Teach 3 sections of comp a semester for a year, then come back and see if you’re still shitting rainbows.


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