Category Archives: duck

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?”

“Duck” means “Duck”.

We’ve been down this road before, but I feel the need to rant. Again.

So, on my course outlines, there are some clear policies, including, now, thanks to the Shrinker, stuff about how cheating on an exam is heavily discouraged. One of these policies says “If you are about to miss a lab with an in-class assignment for marks, and you care, and you want to make up the assignment, let me know before the class finishes, and preferably before it starts.”

This means that if you are sick, you need to reach your arm limply to your sidetable, whereon your blackberry rests, and type, with fingers weakened by the racking cough and fever you are experiencing because of the Hiney, “I am too ill with the Hiney to come to class, can I make up the assignment.” Onerous, I know, but we all know I chose this profession because of the ample opportunities to be an asshole. Deal.

This semester, I have a student, let her be known as Balloon Girl, perhaps because of her airheaded tendencies, who has so far failed to manage to do this thing 3 times. She missed an assignment on Wednesday, and didn’t get around to mentioning that she wanted to make it up until Friday morning, which, coincidentally, was the deadline for any other students who missed the class or couldn’t finish in class time.

I replied to her email, saying, AS PER THE WRITTEN POLICY, it was too late to make up the assignment.

So, today in class, she says to me that I only sent her half a reply to her request. Excuse me? What this apparently means is, no is not an answer. Or rather, it is a partial answer, and the question will be re-asked until she gets what she wants.

So once again, explaining the rules and sticking to them is seen by the Snowflakery as aberrant. I know blaming the helicopters is becoming a cliche, but really. What kind of parenting are these kids experiencing?

Yesterday Morning: the Good News and the Bad News

Good News: My Children’s Lit Class is meeting at the Children’s Bookstore for our field trip, which is usually lots of fun.

Bad News: I still have to get up at sparrowfart to go teach Milton to the early class. Milton!

Good News: Students are far more into Paradise Lost than I am, so my instruction to “talk about it amongst yourselves and figure out a list of questions you want me to answer” cop-out actually produces some interesting discussion.

Bad News: Despite my repeatedly leaving a pile of essays invitingly for them on my desk, the Marking Fairies have not made an appearance.

Good News: I get to go home and be fortified by coffee before I walk around the corner to the Children’s Bookstore.

Bad News: When I use my break time productively to check how my character is going in Forumwarz, I find I have been the target of repeated assholings by those jerks, The Knights of LOL.

Good News: More exciting sock yarn arrives in the mail.

Bad News: I am the kind of dork who gets excited by sock yarn.

Good News: Most of my class have turned up at the bookstore and they are having an excellent time browsing, reading and discussing the things they see. Woot! Education is taking place before my eyes.

More Good News: When I go to purchase Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach, the nice bookstore owner tells me I have $10 in frequent flyer credit.

Bad News: Students are clearly skeptical about my excuses for not having their essays to hand back. Damn you, Marking Fairies!

Good News: Disgruntled Students are distracted by the arrival of Feckless at the store. Students always like to get a glimpse of your personal life.

Not Bad at all News: Weird Korean Sub and Bubble tea place down the road has been replaced by Vietnamese Cafe.

Good News: It’s busy-ish, but there is a table free.

Bad News: It becomes apparent that the table is free because it is next two Ladies (not women; women do not have the kind of conversation these ladies are having) of a certain age, who are lunching and talking about their inane lives in appalling detail, VERY LOUDLY. Srsly, it is sad that your mutual friend has cancer, and isn’t it good that she seems to be recovering, and how nice that her nice children were so nice to visit her, but we really don’t want to hear about it. Other things we also don’t want to hear about: your dog’s manicure, or whatever the hell it was, and who came to visit at Easter, and what you made for dinner.

Good News: The spring rolls are delicious.

Bad News: The Loud Ladies’ conversation has taken a turn for the gynecological. Your friend Holly, do you really think she would be happy to know that you told an entire restaurant how many times she “tried” before she got pregnant?

Good News: Both Feckless and I have iPods. So we put them on.

Bad News: Now, of course, we cannot converse about how yummy the food is, and did I notice if there was any more chili sauce.

Good News: Also armed with cellphones, we can text each other. So we do. Feckless texts, “This is SO much better.” I reply, “I am going to pwn them on my blog.”

Bad News: When we finish eating, and disconnect the tech, the Ladies are still at it.

Good News: The current topic of conversation – the son of one of them, who is a Special Snowflake currently studying at a post-secondary institution and cannot make up his mind what he wants to study – offers the opportunity for some lulz. Snowflake Son apparently has dropped a lot of classes, including, most recently, Sociology, because he is “trying to find his path.” “Oh well,” consoles the other lady, “he is a deep thinker.” This last observation prompts me to reply, “That clearly isn’t genetic.”

Bad News: I didn’t say it out loud. I know you were hoping one of them was going to hit me with her handbag.

Good News: Food was excellent value for money. Also, the Ladies provide us with an excellent topic for snarky conversation on the way home, all the way to the Badly Built House, which, despite a booming housing market in this city, remains unsold after several months. Tip for property developers: giant cracks in the stonework tend to deter potential buyers.

In other news: Sarcastic Bastard got an essay with a little photochopped picture of a rubber duck with a stapler in the upper right hand corner.

In which I am unfair.

In my department, we have some policies, which are presented to students in handouts. Now, these policies outline our expectations with regard to things like spelling and grammar, and citation in essays. Essentially, they outline the bleeding obvious for the intelligence impaired. (You know, like Homer Simpson says, “Because of me, now they have a warning”.) I like to think of them as “Don’t Staple a Dead Duck to Your Essay” policies. I give these policy handouts to my students at the start of semester, and I also make mention of them in my Course Outlines and Assignment Handouts, and I remind them, a couple of times before work is due, not to duck up.

You know where this is going.

The Duck files. Conversation 1.

Little Miss Mallard: I see I got a D for my essay.
Me: Yes. That would be a D for “duck”.
LMM: Well, I did ask you if you wanted this work in “essay format”.
Me: Well, yes, but to me “essay format” means something quite different to “with a duck on”.
LMM: My prof last semester said it was okay to hand it in with a duck on.
LMM: Yes, you can ask him. It was Professor Algernon.
Me: I will do that. If you go take the duck off and reprint your essay, I will, out of the goodness of my heart, reconsider your grade.
[Interval of a day, during which I ask Prof Algy about his duck policy, and he claims that no ducking way did he say anything of the sort.]
LMM: Here’s my essay!
Me: There’s still duck parts all over this thing! The D stands.
LMM [bursting in to tears]: No fair!

The Duck files. Conversation 2.

Muscovy Chick: I see you applied the duck policy to my essay. I just wanted to say that it’s not fair.
Me: How is it not fair? Did you know about the policy?
MC: Yes.
Me: And you have copy of the handouts where I explain that the policy applies to your essays in this class?
MC: Yes.
Me: I am failing to see where this unfairness lies.
MC: It isn’t fair.
Me: Are you suggesting that I don’t apply this policy equally to all students?
MC: No.
Me: Then I have to ask, how is it unfair?
MC: It isn’t fair.
Me [bewildered, and admittedly getting tetchy]: What about it isn’t fair? You said you knew about it.
MC: Well, it didn’t seem to me that I would get penalised for stapling a dead duck to my essay.
Me: Even though I said you would?
MC: Yes.
Me: So essentially, you are saying that people who have standards and then hold you to them are unfair?
MC: Quack.

The Duck files. Conversation 3.

Cayuga Girl [snivelling, which makes my score of criers for the week 3]: I have to talk to you about this. [“This” being her god-awful essay, and they always say it in that tone.]
Me: What about it?
CG: I can’t get this mark.
Me: Well, clearly you can, but you don’t want it.
CG: What did I do wrong? It’s not like it has a dead duck stapled to it, like last time.
Me: True, but it does have a metric duckton of, to put it mildly, infelicities and inaccuracies in it. Like this part where you say “anthropologists agree that women are genetically inferior to men”. Why drag the poor anthropologists in to it? This is a Chaucer essay.
CG: I meant “physically inferior”.
Me: I’m not sure that that is an improvement.
CG: Anyway, that is only one thing.
Me: It was your thesis.
CG: Well, what else?
Me: There’s this part where you go on for a page about the bourgeoisie in the 14th Century.
CG: My history professor does that; I thought it was okay. [You note this is a common theme? It makes me wonder what my students blame me for when they are arguing with my colleagues.]
Me: And there’s this part where you say that medieval women never talked about sex. What about Margery Kempe? She went on and on and on about sex: having it, not having it, wanting to have it with some guy other than her husband… You have no evidence for your claims.
CG: I did a lot of reading. And also, no duck!
Me: I saw that. But overall, it’s a clusterduck. You read all these feminist critics. I don’t think you really grasped what they were on about.
CG: So what do you want me to do?
Me: Me? I have no desires here. You wrote an essay, I marked it and gave it back. As far as I am concerned, this is the end of the transaction. Don’t make this about me.
[Long pause. Clearly this conversation is not going the way she wants. I think I was supposed to apologise and promise never to do it again.]
CG: What if I rewrote it?
Me: The last time I let you have a rewrite, you took the duck off and replaced it with a goose. I need some guarantee that letting you rewrite won’t result in more duckwittery.
CG: You are really unfair. [Exit, huffily.]

The Duck files. Conversation 4.

Snippy Duckling: What’s this D doing here?
Me: It’s a D for “duck”.
SD [with a real tone]: So. You’re telling me, I got a D just because I stapled a dead duck to my essay?
Me: Yes.
SD [tone now moving from snippy to threatening]: Interesting.
Me [thinking]: At least she didn’t call me unfair.

In other news, Gender Genie thinks I am a dude.