Friday, December 12, 2014

Holding the Line. From Max in Manchester.

I read with great interest Hiram's latest post. I am a huge fan of his and all of the rest of the wonderful writers here. I've always been afraid to join in, though I've read since the very end of Rate Your Students.

I have been where Hiram has been in a different discipline. I extended extra help and extensions, all for the same reasons, because I believe the modern student incapable of grasping college level work early in their first years.

But I had misery after misery with these tactics. They delayed, they asked for more extensions, and when they did finally redo projects or labs, they simply did them slapdash, with virtually none of the lessons learned, none of the suggested steps added.

Better for me was to require a 24 hour turn around, while my remarks and their fear of a zero was highest. Those re-dos were always better than the open-extension ones.

Finally, long with tenure, and long tired of kissing the Dean's ass, I just flunk failing work. I'm fair; I explain why. I hold the line. Students who want to engage truly will. I believe it. I've seen it. Students who are going to be a pain and drain, well, they're going to either drop early, drop later, or simply flunk. I hate to tell you, but that's all the same to me.

If they can't or won't do the work, they do not get the grade.


  1. "If they can't or won't do the work, they do not get the grade."

    What I do not understand is why this is considered controversial.

    1. At (YP)^2 College (You pay! You graduate!), where I used to teach, it was rare for students to ever be blamed for their academic misfortunes. The administrators used any excuse to let the little darlings off the hook.

      In my case, I apparently didn't create a "safe learning environment", I "intimidated" them by having a Ph. D., or I somehow failed to "inspire" them. Then again, standards were treated as a "barrier" to learning because, since the students were our "customers", we had to "meet or exceed their needs or expectations".

      (All the terms in quotation marks were drawn from the institution's lexicon of edubabble.)

      The only time that a student in our department was ever given the boot was if he or she had lousy marks across the board at the end of their first year. They were given a choice: either make up the deficiencies before being allowed to start their second year or go do something else.

    2. Reading this comment of QMV's is a nostalgic experience for me. Before I had tenure, I was beaten with every one of the edubabble terms in quotes. Ah, happy memories! ;-)/2

      Good for you, Max. Stick to your guns. More than once in a heated exchange with a student over grades I have pointed out that I may be the last professor left in the English-speaking world who has integrity. It's good to know I'm not.

  2. from Tanya

    Because about 70% of all college faculty in this country is imperiled by retention rates, student evaluations, and pass rates.

    1. Rhetorical question; I too teach at a "TLC" university.

  3. Welcome, Max. I like your vibe very much so. Hope you'll be around.

    And I DIDN'T want to bring it up, but how come Max gets a SLAMMING AVATAR ON HIS FIRST FUCKING DAY and I've been stuck with that monstrous red one for years?

    That is all.

  4. I like your avatar, Hiram. And besides, don't you do your own (very cool, or at least so-uncool-they're-cool) graphics?

    I second the welcome to Max, and the suggestion that shorter deadlines might help. 24 hours is brave (I don't think I could get away with that, given my students' schedules), but a week is usually reasonable/doable, and actually easier on the students, who will have forgotten everything they ever knew/thought/heard about the assignment in question if they let it sit for much longer than that.

  5. Red is sexy, dangerous, and virile.

    1. Yeah, the women absolutely love it. But not as much as Bubba's horse. ;-)

    2. Frod, your comment could mean:

      1. Women love red but not as much as they love Bubba's horse.
      2. Women love red but not as much as Bubba's horse loves red.

      For anybody else, I'd assume statement 2 is the intended meaning but you "animal lovers" out at Fresno sometimes have odd ideas about these things.


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