Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Singing the Hamsterology Blues

I teach a large Freshman paper, Intro to Hamsterology at a Research University in Far Flung Former Colony. I work hard to keep my content and delivery up-to-date, and incorporate many humorous video clips, many of them recent hamster ads and tv coverage of hamster related issues. My Freshman love my class (with complaints limited to the constant whining for me to give them my personal "full" notes [the ones I dont have because I prepare enough to be able to talk to the powerpoint slides they have access to] or the foreign students who ask me me to explain common English terms to them like "flashlight" or "pantyhose"- and yes even "hamster").

A senior in Basketweaving wrote to me today that he was taking my paper (only because he needed one last paper to graduate) and was "disgusted at the level of spoon-feeding of knowledge" that I engage in and that his "other [presumably Senior-level] classes are far more demanding".

You tea-partying Basket-Weaving moron!!!! Good teachers craft their content, and the delivery of that content to suit the level of the course. Why the hell is a Senior taking a Freshman course? And if you are taking a Freshman course, why the hell are you complaining about being treated like a Freshman? May all your dreams of being a Basket Weaver be KILLED!!!!


  1. "Flashlight" and "Pantyhose." Is your class Hamster House Burglary?

  2. HAHAHA!!!

    This reminds me of the time I had a student take a second year general course with me even though he had already taken a third year honours course in the same area; I guess he was trying to boost his mark. He complained at least once a week in class and/or email that I wasn't making the course challenging enough for him and he had "already seen all of this stuff before".

    It's amazing how egocentric they can be, or how they are ready to graciously offer you their expert advice on how to teach a university level class.


  3. I hope he ends up not passing the freshman paper (is 'paper' a euphemism for 'course'?) because that would be deliciously ironic.

    1. yes, in far flung former colony, we use "paper" to mean "course" Sorry, I've been out here in the boondocks so long, sometimes I forget to translate a word back into American!!!

  4. This story reminds me of the student who sent me a "complaint letter" at the end of the term telling me how I was a bad teacher because I expected him to know names and dates and facts on quizzes. See, he'd had other professors who told him that demonstrated bad pedagogy.

    I was puzzled, so I went back to the quizzes and started counting. Maybe 10-20% of the questions addressed basic facts requiring rote regurgitation. And they were the BIG TERMS and BIG NAMES... you know, the stuff good students know because they were paying attention to lectures, discussion, and the reading. The other 80+%? The BIG IDEAS of the course.

    The kicker: This student had attendance issues, had been scoring in the bottom 20% of the class on every assessment, and also quizzed me on the terms of the syllabus when he signed up for the class late (2 weeks into a 10 week class!). The big problem: after a little e-mail conversation where I helpfully tried to explain the responsibilities of a college student (you know, showing up, studying, reading the book, paying attention to basic facts of the course content, etc.), he revealed that HE ALREADY HAD A COLLEGE DIPLOMA!

    Surprise, surprise.

    1. So he was taking your class in order to be annoying? Or he didn't want to go into the real world yet? His SO was still taking classes there? *sigh*


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