Friday, November 5, 2010

The Future of Education

For once, I'm not complaining about IT (die, IT, die!) or about gradflakes. However, I am just passing along some misery that my spouse Lois received. When I see stuff like this, I'm glad that Clark Jr is now in college (and he's not a snowflake!):


Student Misery #1: "HI! I saw my grades so far. Im trying to attempt to average everything out if i were to get certain grades on certain assignments..and it doesnt seem like i will be near an A or a B... i think my average is wrong unless i calculated it wrong unless u already calucated in my missed test. I have a 60 on test #2 and a 90 on the midsemester review. total point so far 150..averaged out its 75. on blackboard it says 70.77% Please let me know if this is correct and how to strive for a A but would be content with a B :) Because it seems like if i get a 90 on the upcoming test..and do all the extra credit..i would have a this right?"

[Comment: The first problem is the student thinking that a review counts the same as a test; this person can't read the syllabus. The second problem is that this person wants to teach secondary (MS/HS) math.]


Student Misery #2: "I just finished test #3 and was confused as to why trapezoids were on the test. We did not cover these in class. ... I'm afraid I did not do well on this test at all. I am trying to maintain a B in the class and I'm afraid this last test will bring me down to a C. Will the extra credit bring my grade back up or will we be receiving extra credit since we didn't go over the trapezoids?

Reply to student from Lois: "I covered trapezoids last Thursday and I see from the attendance sheet that you didn't attend class that day."

[Comment: Lois has about 170 students in the class (combination of on-site and telecast). She is a very nice person, but can be very direct. However, the wonderful new expression here in CM, "I've never wanted to see a student get eaten by a dinosaur so badly", applies here; I know that Lois can be a one-person raptor pack. I'd rather face a kryptonite meteor shower!]


  1. I'd tell Student #1 to stop rationalizing, be honest, and stop trying to fool yourself: the grade has been calculated accurately, there has been no mistake. Also, kindly stick to standard capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and usage in anything, including e-mail, you write to and boss, customer, client, or professor you ever have: otherwise makes you look not very sharp.

    I think Lois handled Student #2 about right.

    Take it easy on the dinosaurs, students have an awful beery flavor.

    Hey, Clark: do the “bend steel with your bare hands” thing you do, it’s really impressive! ;-)

  2. Student number 1 is very common amongst el ed math "majors". I've only had two final grade complaints in the last year. Both were el ed math students. Neither were debating the quality of their work (well, one cited the "unfairness" of it). Both were trying to be me to raise their letter grades (one by 2 letters) so that they'd have a 2.5 GPA in math (what the state requires for certification). Here's how the scam went down. Both were solid D students. One had a 2.5 GPA coming in and repeated told me during the semester that he had to have a C. He had to have a C, darn it. Then when the D was earned he sent me an email begging for a C. Then a few days later he emailed and said he found out he needed a B and could I give him one. This guy's livelihood is dependent on his ability to average. Yet he doesn't understand that if you average a 2.0 and a 2.5 that there is no possibily that it will be 2.5 or higher no matter what weights are assigned. Frickin' scary. I didn't sleep with my spouse for a week for fear of procreating and having to deal with teachers like these.

  3. P.S. Lois graded the next test for Student #1 on Friday... Another 60!

    Looks like Ms "how to strive for a A but would be content with a B" will have to "strive for a D but be content with a F" this semester.

  4. Why are these people majoring in math if they're so bad at it? Because it's an "in-demand" discipline? Shouldn't they switch to something they're better at? Then again, I probably don't want to see their writing, either.

    My GRE results scared me a bit: I ranked in the 85th percentile in math, despite the fact that I'm pretty sure there are more people in the sciences and social sciences than in the humanities taking the GRE. Getting a semi-decent score didn't surprise me, since I'm reasonably competent in math (though I'm just as glad not to be responsible for calculations that determine what will hold up a bridge or cure a disease), but falling above the 50th percentile did. Then again, the fact that I understand the difference, and the connection, between the score and the percentile probably proves what I said above: I'm reasonably competent in math.

  5. @CC: Yep... getting certified in math is (and has been) something that helps teachers (i.e., future options, job security). Whether it helps the secondary level students is another thing. IMNSHO, the college instructors should have Yea/Nay input on some of these folks. The former Ms Lane gives me horror stories about some of these students.

    Of course, another favorite discipline of the "uncertain" is IT. I don't mean serious IT (Computer Science or Business Oriented IT Management), but re-training efforts for the recently laid off or job seekers.

    Laid off? Need training? "Why yes! I'd like to learn about computers."

    Well... I'd like to learn about string theory and the Theory of Everything, but that doesn't mean I'll be Brian Greene. "I'd like to learn..." doesn't mean "I can learn...".

    Some folks just need to be dinosaur bait.

  6. @CMP - there's always home-schooling. Really.

  7. PPS. Lois was grading some more last night and...

    Student #3 Situation: As with most math problems, the work has to be reduced. The student ended up with 116/4 and couldn't divide it! She said she forgot her calculator and couldn't do it in her head...

    Student #4 Situation: The student did the first page of problems. Lois turned to the next page: blank. Next page: blank. And so on. No note (like "I'm sick" or "I have an emergency") = too bad.


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