Thursday, April 18, 2013

Horrible Meanie Prof Goes Old School With the Smackdown. "Mean? Horrible? Or Both?"

Outraged Olivia: You sent me a rather rude email at 10 pm the night before the assignment was due, demanding to know what I intended to do about the difficulty you and “a bunch of others” were having logging in, followed by a curt “never mind” 15 minutes later. The online module assignment was posted 6 weeks ago. I told the class it would take at least 40 hours to get through it. I’m guessing one of your more astute colleagues showed you the log-in instructions right after you sent that first email. Tough luck for starting late: you may remember from elementary school that 12(hours) is less than 40? Your (lack of) work shows it. You fail, sucka!

Entitled Ernie: Against advice from colleagues (and my better judgment) I gave you an incomplete last semester, then gave you a few extra days when you didn’t complete the make up work in time. My reward? A grade grievance when you STILL didn’t turn the work in by the extended due date, and I failed you. Lucky me, I have you THIS semester too. Why, oh why, did I expect anything different this semester? You have missed about half the classes, and more than half the assignments. The grievance committee might find that interesting, don’t ya think?

Mendacious Mollie: When the syllabus says I’ll confiscate an item if you bring it into the studio, it means I’ll confiscate it when you bring it into the studio. My picking it up from your table does not equal “ripping it out of your hands” as you complained to the Chair, and I don’t give a fuck if s/he thinks I’m harsh. Try that kind of thing in your first job and enjoy the ride as they kick your ass out the door.

Special Spencer: Is there a single instruction I’ve given you that you have managed to understand? Your head seems only a couple of molecules shy of a complete vacuum. When I said, “draw your figure in black ink using a straightedge,” you did a quick crummy freehand sketch in pencil, then asked me what you did wrong. Based on the hurt look in the puppy-dog eyes, I’m STILL not sure you even know the difference between a black ink pen and a pencil. (HINT: sharpening it will NOT make a pen write more clearly, and will mess up the sharpener – or wait, was it YOU that wrecked the room sharpener last week?)

Reformed Rudy: You and I have had battles in the past. I am heartened that we seem to have successfully put it all in the past. You have turned into the kind of person that I suspected was there all along – basically honest, basically hard-working and trying to succeed. Good for you! PLEASE ask me for a letter of recommendation – you deserve it more than most of the so-called ‘good students.’ Is there any way we can replicate your transformation in some of my current doofuses?


  1. I had an Outraged Olivia once. Hand-to-god, I had this exact conversation with her:

    OO: Why did I fail?
    Me: It's hard to pin down any one thing. This assignment was substandard in pretty much every respect. How long did you spend on it?
    OO: I did it last night.
    Me: Did you hear me tell the class to get started at least two or there weeks in advance and do multiple drafts? Did you hear me tell everyone I would look at drafts and comment on them?
    OO: Yes.
    Me: So...?
    OO: I didn't think you meant ME.

    Thank you, HMP, for the Old School Smack.

  2. One blessing of being contingent: I can refuse to issue incompletes on the grounds that my job might not be around next year.

    1. OMFG BLESS you BT ... I finally have the airtight excuse!

  3. Love the old school stuff, and enjoying catching up on the early days, via the shiny new labels. What happened to Dr. Snarky? She's awesome!

  4. I once taught a drafting class in which one student disregarded much of what I presented in my lectures. The reason was that her boyfriend told her that the company he worked for didn't do much of what I talked about.

    She was so desperate to outsmart me with that tactic that she tried to get him to sit in on one of my lectures. Unfortunately for her, I refused. For one thing, he wasn't a student and had no business being there. Second, I didn't want to get into a hassle with someone who had no idea of what he was talking about. (I not only taught the subject for several years, I spent about the same amount of time in industry either checking drawings or preparing them.)

    Finally, I was teaching the course, not him. I was grading her work according to what I taught, not what he told her. Besides, much of what she claimed he said was completely wrong.

    She somehow managed to pass the course, after claiming she needed special conditions for writing the final exam because she suffered from a condition brought on by "stress". I have no idea if she sneaked any extra material into the exam room.

  5. This is another one of those "buck stops here" moments. I blame the high schools (which maybe isn't fair, but these kids are learning this shit somewhere before they show up in our courses expecting to pass for doing nothing but breathing).

    1. Unfortunately, they're aided and abetted by admin-flakes who let them get away with that baloney once they start post-secondary studies as well as politicians who are afraid of losing the next election if they actually impose some proper educational standards.

    2. Oh, I know it. Our two-day department meeting was mostly devoted to statistics about how many of our students aren't passing the core course (especially when they come in needing remediation, which is a lot of them for us because we are open access). My question, which went unanswered, is How much of this is really my department's responsibility? Especially since I know how hard my colleagues work and how much they do care about student success.

    3. It's not fair to blame the high schools; some of us are fighting the good fight out here. One of my students wh earned a C at semester tried to argue (with parents and admin present) that hir grade should be based on "all the factors", not just tests and quizzes. To which I said, "Of course."

      S/he didn't seem to understand that "all the factors" included said tests and quizzes. Which s/he earned Ds and Fs on. But I can't count those; I should count the other stuff.

      I'm currently embroiled in a new Festival of Fuckwittery: I have to call kids out on cheating on their research paper formatting to make their papers look longer.

      We're fighting down here, trust me. But the hordes are tireless, and we may not survive the seige.


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