Monday, September 22, 2014

The Return of Hiram. "Am I The Last To Know?"

So everyone had a party and I wasn't invited? Damn you Miserians!


Anyway, I had the first major essay due this morning in my 8 am class. The paper has been in progress for 2 full weeks. I beg students to let me see rough drafts, this being the first college paper for most of these traditional freshmen.

This morning, because I have this aching back from a new bed, I got up at 4 am to stretch. Of course I couldn't stop myself from checking email.

Two students, Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dumber-Yet, had sent me rough drafts at 11:30 pm last night and 1:30 this morning!!!!

One email said, "Doc, I know you wanted to edit my paper. Here it is!"

I am baffled. (See what I did there? I remembered my old schtick.)

Oh boy, what a day. Ooooooh my head.


  1. A firm policy of "I don't see email at ridiculous hours" might help. If they get it in as late as these two did, it's ignored. Usually, I've given a date by which rough drafts must be in, that is at least a week in advance.

    Or you could insist that they come to you with their paper during office hours or by appointment.

    And welcome back, Hiram!

  2. Hey, Hiram! Good to see your baffled face!

    Maybe now that you know the site is active you'll check it rather than email if you find yourself awake at 4 a.m.

    I'm not sure when students do this sort of stuff they actually expect us to answer. Often, I suspect they're checking a mental box (he said this is a good thing to do, so I'm doing it) with very little thought for the overall process (which you've no doubt carefully described in the assignment, syllabus, and/or in class), and whether the recommended action actually makes sense at the point they take it. I've experienced the opposite this fall: students asking whether they should still complete an LMS post in which they propose a topic for a semester-long project, because the post is now a few days late.

    If one of the points of setting up all this elaborate scaffolding is to model how to handle a longterm project (and I believe it is), I fear the message isn't getting across very well.

  3. Hiram old buddy, good to see you're back!

    It's easy to understand this, by the way. Do they really expect you to check your e-mail and edit their papers after 11:30 p.m.? Not really. One reason is that they just don't think. They therefore don't really expect anything, since they have given it no thought whatsoever. Another reason is that the 18-to-22-year-old mind has an astonishing capacity for rationalization. I always giggle whenever I hear one of them say, "I'll take full responsibility for what happens," shortly before the Komodo dragon pukes.

    1. "before the Komodo dragon pukes."

      Is that what they're calling it these days?

  4. Hi Hiram!

    I have this experience -- the last-minute emails, not the bad-back-from-new-bed -- all the time. This past summer, I had a student very upset with me because she emailed me for help late on a Sunday night for an essay that was due Monday morning and I had the nerve to be asleep when she sent it.

    Ah! Let the games begin!

  5. Hi Hiram! Good of you to show up. :)

    Yeah, when I don't do in-person conferences, this happens to me (even when I don't require it). I always wonder if their parents would have gotten out of bed to help them edit their essays and whether, in their minds, we are just an extension of the people who have trained them to be so entitled to 24/7 help.

  6. False dichotomy. Don't answer the emails when they're sent so late. And never ever edit some student's paper. You're not their parent or their tutor.

    Teach them manners, style, and responsibility. It's never steered me wrong.