Sunday, December 30, 2012

To my Darling Snowflakes, a new year gift

Dear Class,

This past term was very interesting. There were 130 of you in my big lecture class, but due to an unexpected administration twist, I had three TAs to help me deal with it all. The result was actually quite fun. I did my thing twice a week and let the TAs handle your BS excuses. You came to me from time to time, which was nice, but I barely had to deal with the lying and plagiarism. What a treat.

And your evals were very kind. I learned that about 20 of you have decided to declare a major in our discipline because of this class. What a compliment! Some of you liked my PPT presentations. Some of you liked my lecture style. A few of you genuinely enjoyed the assignments. Lovely.

But of course some of you had to be idiots.


Snowflake complaint: "You should have more/less reading."

Answer: If I give you more reading, you won't do it. If I give you less reading, you'll still be asking for less.
Snowflake complaint: "You should relax about cell phones. You called me out twice and both times I was just checking the date for my notes."

Answer: I had multiple people write a variation of this statement. First, the date is on my ppt. Second, the slide with the date on it is up for the first 5 or more minutes of class. Third, this is complete and total crap. You were texting friends. You think just because there are 130 of you, I can't see the glow of blue reflected off your face when you stare intently into your crotch? Any time there were more than 3 people texting at one time, yes, I paused lecture and reminded you to put your phones away. I said something almost every class because you dunderheads cannot go 50 minutes without being connected to the idiotic wisdom of your inane friends. Cut it out and stop lying to me in the evals.

Snowflake complaint: "You should post the lectures online. I missed class and I was unable to get the notes from anyone afterward."

Answer: Again, lots of people wrote something like this. Darling dears, do you really think I want to perform my lecture acrobatics to a room full of 3 people? Heavens no. That's bull. As soon as I start posting lectures or lecture notes or ppts online, people will stop coming to class. I purposefully avoid posting such things online as an incentive to attendance -- without actually marking people for attending.

Also: I said frequently that you could come see my lectures notes in office hours. Only three of you took me up on that, and two of those three were Jewish kids making up work after Jewish holidays.

Snowflake comment: My favorite thing about your course was sitting next to my girlfriend!

Answer: Edward, you fool, why be so obvious? Although I do have to say that I appreciated you. The first 3 lectures you and Anna were making out in the back row. Very distracting. So when I asked you to be more discreet and perhaps to write notes to each other rather than talking and kissing, you actually complied. Thank you for toning it down, even if she was probably stroking you off during my lecture on hamster origins.

Snowflake complaint: I have an 89.5%!! Will you let me have an A- instead of a B+?

Answer: Stop emailing your professors with this nonsense. Chances are, if you created a relationship with them, they will know you are a dedicated student and round up your grade. If you haven't established a relationship with your prof, then they won't give a damn and your emailed requests will only serve to help us find a reason to push your grade further down.


If only we had one more lecture so I could tell you this... Oh well. Happy New Year, flakes.

Academic Monkey


  1. A colleague of mine includes an 'extra credit' question on the final exam, in which students are asked to write a letter to the next class. Frequently, they say useful things, or stupid things you can make fun of.

  2. I teach small classes, and it blows me away that students will carry on conversations right in front of me. While I'm talking. If I pause and wait (to get their attention, in hopes they will stop talking), they continue, as if I should stop lecturing/demonstrating until they have finished their conversations. Nothing works any more.

    1. My last department head liked to have sessions with my students about me and how I ran things. During one of them, I expressed my displeasure to everyone in attendance that some of those students insisted on yakking during my lectures. His response was that some people have "sensitive ears", thereby not only humiliating me in from of them but giving them permission to carry on in any way that suited them.

    2. Proffie Galore:

      That was one of many such incidents with that department head and his lackey assistant.

      The latter once sat in on one of my lectures, which administrators were allowed to do at the place where I used to teach. One of my students came to me and asked a question which he should have known the answer to or should have been able to look up himself. When I refused to give the kid the answer the assistant head proceeded to chew me out in front of the students.

      Later that day, I had a meeting with the supervisor for my second master's degree (I was working on it part-time back then) and, when I told him about that confrontation, his response was: "What kind of a dork is he?"

      Apparently, the assistant head had the authority to do that but was it a wise move? There was a clause in our staff association's code of ethics about not undermining the authority of one's fellow instructors. Obviously, my department's administrators behaved as if they were exempted, even though that same code of ethics applied to them as they also taught courses.

      When I couldn't even receive basic professional courtesies from my superiors, should I have wondered why my students felt they didn't have to show me respect?

  3. If his girlfriend is sitting next to him, a guy might not be texting just because he's looking down at his lap.

    1. And if his lap is glowing when he looks at it, he might want to see a doctor.

    2. R & G, I was trying to think of a way to tie in the glow from the lap but couldn't. Well done!

  4. For every complaint, punch them in the face, or knee them in the groin.

    Do it long enough and they will stop complaining.

  5. That's quite a crew, Monkey. I most frequently get the first complaint (except it's "too much writing" -- in a class with "writing" in the title) and the last (pretty much verbatim). Oh, and some of them really hate group work (even though it's a basic expectation of the class, and presented to them as such; it's not really my call, though I've come to see its value, and have created assignments that work pretty well, and aren't even all that hard, if each group member simply does hir job -- which is, of course, a big "if").

  6. I have the same policy with my slides--no posting online, but if they want to visit my office I'll run the show for them. They then take pictures of each slide with their iPhones, a phenomenon I still find jarring if plausible as an approach. I have no idea if these images (or any other form of notes) ever make the rounds illicitly, but now that I've kept up this policy for a few semesters my students have adjusted to the class-and-office-only rule for slides.

    1. I post mine, but very few of my students actually go back and look at them. *shrug* If I happen to be ill, I will post the lecture, with instructions that they view it and come to the next class with questions about the material, which is how I start the class following any unplanned absence. They never seem to have any.

      But then on my evaluations, they'll write "Canceled class and didn't make up the material." Fuckers.