Pencil-Neck Pete is on his second trip through Intro to Hamster Fur Weaving. Last semester, Pete withdrew because he (a) had a bad case of senioritis, (b) missed most of the small assignments due to his being more interested in work than school, (c) in spite of being in a math-based discipline, couldn’t do the math to figure out that although he wasn’t doing well, he’d still likely get a B or C once the group projects came around, and (d) apparently forgot that his major requires him to pass HMST 3199. Thus, Pete didn’t graduate, and he had to take the class again. From me. Bummer, dude.
This semester, Pencil-Neck Pete sits in the very back row, never makes eye contact, bends metal loops into chain-mail jewelry “to keep myself awake in your class,” and tries to undermine my authority. As an example, here’s a chunk of Pete’s very first assignment from this semester, complete with errors:
I acquired an internship last semester with the global rodent company of International Gerbil Ball, Inc., which earns billions of dollars a year. While there I learned what a global company expects of me regarding hamster fur weaving. I learned that left-hand-twisted yarn is very important and that using a Twist-O-Matic’s auto-twister [Ed: which we used extensively all semester, as it's the industry-standard yarn twister] is a waste of my time, their money, and makes left-hand-twisted yarn a pain for them, let alone the few errors in Twist-O-Matic created from twisting. I learned that a global company uses a lot of carding and looming, but the combs are used like a rough prep system. There were a few important yarn balls sent out to everyone though, but even these were carded not be straight. This successful carding style is what I plan to use throughout my life unless shown a more efficient and friendly method.
And, of course, this is the only original material in the assignment. Pete hadn’t made any changes from the previous semester’s version, aside from jamming in this passive-aggressive drivel. I slapped Pete down hard, gave him shit for plagiarizing his first assignment, and got a decent rewrite out of him.
From that point onward, Pete restricted his jerkwaddery to making stupid comments in class that both his classmates and I politely ignored, but I guess that Pete was just building up a reserve of bile because, in a reflective piece I had the students write after completing their first cluster of group assignments, Pete included this gem, regarding the ethical issues he encountered while working on the group-woven tapestry:
There have been no ethical issues which I have encountered, while keeping within the scope of weaving a tapestry depicting hamster bungholes. An ethical issue that should be mentioned is about the assignment in general and does the completion of it require more hours outside of class than the 3-credit hour rating this class is given. Another ethical issue is why are the assignments of weaving a huge tapestry, a shawl, and a set of dog booties given twice during the last two weeks of class when they should have been spread over the whole semester thus giving students time to study for their finals. This continues onto the topic of whether you, Professor Mindbender, are overloading your students on purpose during these two weeks with the aim of making your students fail your class and their other classes.
I opened, I read, I shrugged. And then I showed it to my department chair, who laughed out loud and called the student a jerk. Ah, if only I could be a fly on the wall when Pete gets mad at a workplace supervisor and tries this kind of shit. That would be teh awsum.