Sunday, May 31, 2015

From Sent by 2 readers.

Son killed mother in argument over college grades

A 22-year-old man home from college killed his mother after they argued about his grades, authorities in Alabama said Saturday.

Tyler Ryan Blansit called 911 on Friday afternoon, Mentone Police Chief Brad Gregg told CNN.

When officers arrived at the family residence, they found Sherry Ann Blansit's body in the back yard, he said.

Blansit confessed to killing his mother, 45, after they got into an argument over grades, said DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris.

The Misery.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

28 Unusual Majors You Didn’t Know Existed. From College Candy.

#3 Packaging
#12 Auctioneering
#23 Nannying

I can't make this reader stop sending me this link. 


There was Richard the Third, Malcolm the Tenth, May the Thirtieth, and Title the Ninth.

That last one, what a motherfucker.  I see "IX" and I check my heart rate a few seconds later to find that it has gone up to 80 (resting is normally 60 for me).

With Title IX, everything--and I mean everything--can go wrong.

This year, I served on a committee that, let's say, "has something to do with Title IX."  I don't know why I agreed to this.  I'd sit in the meetings and wonder why there were no lawyers in the room. "We really need lawyers here," I'd say. "These are not decisions we should be making without lawyers here." It is disheartening to say, "We need lawyers here."  Oh, christ on a cracker, what had I gotten myself into?

Yesterday, someone took a beating--just for doing her job about as well as anyone could.  I'm glad I'm not in her shoes. My heart rate would probably be up over 100 while sleeping.

I so enjoyed reading Kipnis's piece and the one in the NYT Magazine.  I skipped the readers' comments on the former--because they can be such a waste of time in The Crampicle--but I will likely go back and skim through the comments on the latter (once they've accumulated, perhaps Monday or Tuesday).  Kipnis, especially, let me feel like someone was commiserating with me.

It's such a goddamned cottage industry.  Part of me wishes I'd majored in Title IX instead of getting a PhD in whatever the hell it was I studied.  Talk about job security.

This is the ambivalence:  So much of what we do involves exploring an increasingly tangled web--with the exploration itself tending to tangle the web even more.  And I'm driven to do that. But I also so thoroughly enjoy mopping the floor, mowing the lawn, changing my mother's Depends, and washing the dishes, because these accomplishments are concrete and tangible and knowable.

That's all.  I'm just drunk and talking to myself and Cal is getting crankier by the minute....

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday FastLinks

Some kind of shitty graphic would go here. Please use your imagination.
OK, so, I thought I'd tell you about my week, but that would mean I'd have to relive it, and it's too soon. Too soon. So instead, to kill some time Thursday afternoon, I did some of teh googlze and found some stuff to read, and it occurred to me that you might find it interesting, too. Please to enjoy.

Title and link: Sensitive Sally Smacks Special Snowflake Student Silly

Flava: That students have devolved from buddy [sic] scholars and statesmen to butthurt babies is, sadly, a trend that’s been happening for quite a while now, as higher ed has facilitated, if not encouraged, them to elevate their feelings above all else. But why is there no grown up in the room? If it’s “fair” that academics retaliate by suit against students for butthurt of their own, then cries of academic freedom will be replaced by screams to “lawyer up.”

Reaction: I was pretty sure I'd read about this case here before, but I couldn't find it. I haven't watched the student's video yet. I am intrigued by the idea that the professor was not modeling grown-up behavior. The comments are interesting (not that I necessarily agree with them); one commenter mentions the Streisand Effect. The article has a link to the IHE piece about the same case.

Schuman states (what should be) the obvious. Hiring committees disagree.

I really just wanted an excuse to use this graphic

Over on Slate:
[C]ollege students are not customers. That analogy needs to die. It needs to be drowned in the world’s largest bathtub. It needs a George R.R. Martin–esque bloodbath of a demise.
Meanwhile, in the faculty job announcements:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A VidShizzle Because My Tee Time Isn't Until 2 pm.

"Q & A & E" Question, Answers, and Evaluation With Kelsoe.

Today we'll be grading papers from a remedial math class that shouldn't award college credit, but is offered anyway, because our institution values student $ucce$$.

(Note: numerical values have been altered to increase student anonymity.)

Question: 2 * 3 = ?

Answer: 6
Evaluation: Good for you. Full credit.

Answer: 5
Evaluation: Umm... it was multiplication, not addition. Could be an honest mistake. A little bit of credit -- maybe 3/10? Please be more careful in the future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer "vacation."

summer vacation image from

Like many of my fellow Miserians, I am on a nine-month appointment. That means I don't get paid for the summer. But because I have a heavy teaching load during the school year, summer is when I catch up on research.

I think this is pretty common, especially as research expectations have ratcheted up at regional and two-year institutions, while teaching loads have held constant. We don't have enough hours in the day during the school year to get much research done. We have to catch up in the summer.

I recently had a brief exchange with someone in our Office of Student Retention. She emailed me after the last day of the semester to request some information, which I provided within ninety minutes. She wrote back to "thank" me:

Aloha Frankie,
Mahalo for your reply. I appreciate the resources. Your vacation message does relay that one needs to wait until August 17 to hear back from you. For faculty that is here in the summer, that sounded pretty darn far away. Enjoy your break and safe journeys.

This is extremely annoying. I am not "enjoying" a "break" while hardworking folks like my correspondent slave away on campus. "Vacation" means you're getting paid while not working. I am not getting paid, while working. It's the exact opposite of vacation.

I'm not going to say anything to her. It wouldn't make any difference. But I'd welcome suggestions for a "vacation" message that makes it clear I'm not on vacation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What's your name? Can you spell it?

One of my standard exam questions in Hamster Systematics 101 asks for the scientific names of hamsters and humans.

The Little Dears have seen the human genus and species on the board many times, usually with a reminder that these names are likely to be on a test. I say "jokingly" (but not really) that as college students, they should be able to spell their names.

Do try this at home, kids! I'll check back with you after a short break.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Grade-Grubbing Grief: The Bargaining Stage

Or maybe this is still the denial stage. What do I know?

"I have 57% on the written assignments, 58% on the quizzes, 58% on the final, 98% attendance, and 77% on the midterm, so my total grade is 347%. Does that mean I pass?"

"Beach Week" creep

There's a long-established tradition in my neck of the woods of high school seniors taking off just after graduation for "beach week."  It causes a good deal of (understandable) debate, angst, worry, etc., etc. as parents and other responsible adults consider how best to avoid death, dismemberment, destruction of property, DUIs, et al., while still allowing the graduates to have some fun and experiment a bit with the greater freedom they'll soon experience in college.  But all in all it seems like a reasonable-enough practice. 

Given this tradition, when someone at church first mentioned a college-aged offspring's "beach week" plans a few Sundays ago, I assumed the college student was going to join friends a year or two younger for the high-school-grad beach week.  But apparently there's another "beach week" tradition (how long-established, I'm not sure, but I don't think it was around in my college days): students from our flagship state U (and perhaps some other local schools, perhaps especially those who belong to fraternities/sororities) take a "beach week" every year after their exams are over.

From Reg W. Whose Father Died 48 Years Ago From Injuries Sustained Years Earlier In Suwon.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Look Who Finally Made It.

I can't even be a pushover for them because they're so f***ing stupid!

I had a really great kid in my non-majors class wind up with a C+ because he forgot to do the final essay.  I want so badly for him to give me something so I can bump him to the B+ he was on his way to earning. 

I am not allowed to do a grade change for a retroactively granted extension, but if he "accidentally" sent it from his personal e-mail address and I "accidentally" deleted it as spam, he can send it to me "again" from his college e-mail and I can correct the "error" at the registrar's office.

I told him this half a dozen times now but he keeps saying "I don't have any other e-mail address.".  I even deleted that confession.

Fly Away, Fab, You Fucking Bastard.

Fab leaves today for **THREE WEEKS** in New Zealand. Fuck him. I hope he gets dengue fever, or whatever passes for dengue fever in New Zealand.

I'll be doing my best to kill the page in his absence.

- Cal

Sid From Santa Fe Sends This In, Lazily.

I'm half-assing it, too. Saw an article. Thought it was germane. Don't know what to think. Too Long; Was Gonna Read, Got Distracted By a Storm. Didn't Read. Never Was Gonna Read. Saw a Hummingbird Hiding Under the Patio.

What do you think. Here's the URL. Go ahead and make some flaver, do a graphic. You know, you like to bitch about it all anyway, so here's your chance. What a profflake I am. I'm killing you. I and all the ungrateful fucks who populate the page (all 11 of us) try your patience. 

Still, make sure to give me credit! Summer class begins in 9 fucking days.

- Sid


The Practical Liberal Arts
from HuffPo

"...teaching undergraduates to think in creative ways aligns well with preparing them for specific types of jobs. Critical thinking can be effectively taught in a wide range of practically oriented courses. Learning marketable job skills is often an exercise in exploration."

The rest.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

half assed big thirsty

So. Y'all have any thoughts on Letterman?

An All Time Flashback.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"May Your Perfidy Ramify Through Your Life." If We Only Had a Dime For Every Time We Said That.

Dear Students:

The collective attitude you have shown toward reading and writing during the past semester is neither new nor surprising. You are not well-suited to do either. To your credit, you hate ignorance, as I do. To your discredit, you really only hate being shown that you are ignorant, through encountering words and ideas that are foreign to you and your immediate experience. Rather than look them up and learn about them, as is moronically simple these days, you disdain them, and then complain that you do not understand them. This complaint is disingenuous because you show no interest in having them explained.

Rather, you want to be relieved of responsibility for knowing them, and for reading the works that contain them. In short, you do not want to be educated, or even to go through the motions of education. What you want is a degree, and if there existed a system of academic indulgences, you would gladly fork over four years tuition to receive one without having to waste time going to classes. For a little extra, you could get someone like me to drop by and, for about a half-hour, confirm your base prejudices, the ones you've gotten from television and the movies and video games and life in general. You have written about these prejudices incessantly: why brute force is an answer for everything, why the whole world, with its little invisible workers everywhere, has come together for your material and personal happiness, why you live in the greatest country in the history of the world, led by its greatest leader, why your ethnic group has undergone suffering that leaves you preeminent over us, who are all racists... I will not go on.

I have read your stories about anime characters, complete with super-deformed doodles, your tales of extraterrestrials and werewolves and vampires. It is interesting that your eyes turn to the supernatural world so often, since you have such an impoverished notion of this one.

Randall Jarrell, in Pictures From An Institution, a book you'll never read, anticipated a world in which people could do without culture. He likened it to a kingdom, where the king and queen have always observed the rituals of piety. Then, a man - an advertising man - tells them that they need do no such thing. They are surprised, but, newly liberated, they go to Mass - real fast - and then have a swift one at the club afterwards. You are just as enlightened as they are; your only problem is that the term does not pass swiftly enough to suit you.

From your perspective, ignorance is not a curse, and so I cannot curse you with ignorance. Nonetheless, I curse you. May your mergers not merge and may your acquisitions not be acquired. May your perfidy ramify through your life, so that all your dealings are as twisted as you are. May your lack of concentration result in an accident that kills you. May your illiteracy prevent you from reading some crucial document. And may you be transferred to Europe, where your lack of foreign languages renders you deaf and mute, and where your lack of culture will be seen for what it is - barbarism.

Oh, and don't worry about the evaluations. What you have to say is irrelevant.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Last Wednesday


it starts at maybe 2 a.m. or that's when i'm aware of it
i smell new carpet and fresh paint but none of these is new in this room
bed feels unfamiliar now too cold too hot too hard too soft
the pillow presses in my face with several earths of gravity
i test my limbs which move and sense as well as I can tell for now
i call out i'm in trouble here then hear what can I do for you
i think just get the biggest wrench i own and swing it true 
and knock me out but say i don't know and hear bucket 
diphenhydramine but probably it's not a stroke
i sleep in twenty minute spurts and after caffeine shower it is
concentrated in a hemisphere behind my left eyeball so
was it stress of yesterday or what is coming next that must have
brought this on but either way i'll take it make it useful make it work

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Great College Misery Demographic Survey

How old are you?

How long have you been teaching?

RYS Flashback. 9 Years Ago Today.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Common Tale With the Usual Results

I decided that I was going to offer a final review session for my class. Since I wanted everyone who wanted to attend to be able to come, I sent around a notice with the time, 6:30, a time when classes aren't in session, when I was pretty sure most folks could come.

Person X wrote me to tell me that 6:30 wouldn't work, and could I offer a review session at 4:30, too. Person X is pretty reliable, and usually comes to these things, so I wondered if maybe 4:30 might work for more people. Well, of course, Person Y wrote to say that there was no way she could come at 4:30. She could only come at 6:30.

So now, I'd gotten myself backed into a corner of having to offer 2 review sessions over a 4 hour period.

Guess what happened? Neither Person X nor Y showed up for either session! Person X showed up at the end of the session I had scheduled just for her to tell me she couldn't stay because she was burned out from her other classes. I am sorry, what? Did this matter at all? And then she had the nerve to ask me, while standing in the doorway, poised to make her getaway, if I was free the next day to offer ANOTHER review session.

Is this really what the world is coming to?

Faculty Brat Sends in Some Student Email.

My father will readily admit that he's got it pretty good as far as academic life goes: tenured and promoted at a regionally well-regarded professional school, a nice group of friends among his colleagues, opportunities to do some interesting research. He came to academia as a second career, and it seems to leave him really happy and fulfilled.

But into even such a life, the occasional 'flake must fall. He received the following e-mail, interestingly enough a few weeks before final grades were issued:

I am a tough critic, not only of others but more so of myself. I work extremely hard because I expect a lot out of myself, and therefore I apply the same rationale to others. Whether my opinion has been warranted or not, I have been impressed with very few professors at Local School of Hamsterology.
However, I have been extremely impressed with not only your teaching, but also with the way you have treated myself and my colleagues. You treated us as colleagues rather than as students, and that was very clear. Whether my performance reflects it or not, I feel I have learned more about Hamster Law than any other area of hamsterology.
Even though it is very unlikely that I will be practicing in that area (I'll likely be doing Hamster Handicrafts), you have peaked [sic] my interest and given me a great appreciation for Hamster Attorneys. I appreciate your time and expertise, and wish you the best in the future.
Snow Flake

Monday, May 18, 2015

This is why my syllabus is seventeen pages long

SCENE 1: Second Week of the Semester

Student-AthleteAthlete-Student:I have to miss class because my team is traveling to the mainland for two weeks. I know the syllabus says no makeups, but I don't have a choice about going on the trip. Can I make up the in class quizzes?

Professor B. (that's me!), Unknowingly Stepping Onto the Slippery Slope: Sure! Because you have to travel as a condition of your athletic scholarship, just write a short reflection paper on the week's topic and get it to me when you come back.
SCENE 2: Third Week of the Semester

Scammy Sammy: I heard you can make up the in-class quizzes. I had to miss last Wednesday for a very important family funeral event.

Professor B.: Well, OK, I guess you can make the quiz up by writing a short reflection paper.

Scammy Sammy: When is it due?

Professor B.: Just get it to me by the last day of class.

Should I change a student's grade? (It's not what you think.)

My department suffered the presences of an incompetent faculty member who screwed up the grades for about 100 students.  Just miscalculated their percentages in the spreadsheet.  The moron in question retired after this past semester and was too busy planning his golfing trips to notice that his students were earning 150% on the final exam.  I've spoken with him and he explained what happened.  There are no excuses other than incompetence.  But that's not what I want to talk about.

So far, we have not found any students who received a lower grade than they earned.  Let's assume all students got some bonus, which in the case of 100 students, resulted in a higher letter grade, sometimes two letter grades higher, than they deserved.  My question is, what the fuck do we do with these students who got an undeserved higher grade.  I have a great deal of sympathy for these students and I want to do what is right for them.  They are innocent in the fiasco.  The faculty must fix this.  What does that require?

More info after the jumpity-jump.

A Reader Sends This In: Dixon High School (Sacramento Ca) Senior Arrested in Grade-Changing Scandal.

Sorry about the autoplay. Couldn't turn it off. Here's the link to News 10's story.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I'm Baffled By YouNow.

The kids of YouNow
We have our 14 year old niece with us for a week. This is a kid I love, and who I see a couple of times a year. She was smart, funny, athletic, did all kinds of sports.

Now, this year, not so much.

She spends nearly every minute on, a live streaming website and app that features hundreds of kids around the clock. They chat inanely to their followers, answer questions. They sometimes will be by themselves, always in their bedroom, or sometimes have sleepovers with friends and broadcast all night long.

Who follows these people? Well, other kids, obviously, but there are always comments posted under the video asking for things like: "Do the splits," "Kiss your friend," and "Show me your bare feet."

It's nauseating.

There are different "topics" like "girls," "guys," "dance," and the oddest, "sleepingsquad," which features kids 13 and above sleeping. And people watch it.

My niece tells me not to worry, that her mom thinks it's a "kick," but I drew the line last night when she was about to crawl into bed with the lights on and the camera phone operating all night.

Not in my house, I said.

I've watched over her shoulder for maybe a total of an hour this weekend and I'm so baffled and enraged and discouraged. There are moderators, and I guess if someone says "Show me your tits" enough times, they get "banned." The same people, my niece tells me, just change their user name and come back.

"Do you ever reply to these people?" I asked.

"I show my feet," she said. "I have pretty feet."

I told her mother about all this in a phone call and I think I laid it on thick enough that she might do something about it. "The world is full of creeps," I said.

These kids, though, I kept thinking about them. They're going to be in college soon - because most of them really do look 13-17. They have been broadcasting themselves to a "world" of strangers. They have fans. They get "gold bars" which convert into real money and gifts from their viewers.

I can't wait for the week to be over.

Here's an article from HuffPo that does a better job of discussing the issues.

And here's a 13 year old girl twerking. During it she says, "Love me, love me." I wish I were making this all up. Screenshots all come from my niece who I'm taking out of the house today no matter what it takes.

A top ten from Beaker Ben

Sure, I want my students to get smarter when they take my class but there is a limit to what I'm willing to teach them.  If a lesson earns me an appointment with the provost, then that's something the students will have to learn on their own.

Top Ten Things that I Don't Tell My Students 

10.  I don't care if you sit in the back of the room and watch movies. I only teach to the first three rows of students.

9.  I don't even bother learning your names.

8.  My school is not worth the price of tuition.

7.  I will not care more about your education than you do.

6.  If you complain enough to the dean, you will eventually get what you want.

5.  Lots of our PhDs get shitty jobs.

4.  We admit some students just for the money. You'll know who you are by the end of the semester.

3.  I can't understand what the foreign faculty say either.

2  Your TAs can be bribed.

1.  I post positive reviews of other faculty on RMP so you won't over-enroll in my classes.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Remember When?" Tuba Playing Prof Goes Back In Time.

This morning as I entered final grades, I was reminded of a meeting ten years ago with J—F---, a student who had taken four classes with me and earned the respect and admiration of my colleagues who were fortunate to have her in classes.

Looking over her application for graduation in our last advising session ever, I noted that in her first class with me, she earned a final grade of A minus. It was the lowest grade in the thirteen courses that she took in her major and one of three A minuses in the forty classes she took here.

“J---, you made a A minus is Tuba Playing One?”


“But it kept you from a 4.0 in the major!”

“I loved that class; I learned so much.”

Please share with us your story about the student like mine that you remember for the right reasons—as you await emails and phone calls from current students ready to renegotiate their final grades.

RYS Flashback. 8 Years Ago Today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Grandfather Died and All I Got Was This Lousy Grade

Please accept my sincere condolences on the loss of your grandfather, which caused you to miss an entire month’s worth of class. I would have sent them when he actually died in February, but since the first I heard about it was last week in your grade grievance report, I was unable to do so.

You know, for a student who will receive a D- in a research course, you have become suddenly adept at locating the department office, the email address of the chair, and copies of months-old correspondence which I never received and therefore did not acknowledge. Well, hey. Perhaps you’ve learned something after all.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dear Students: They're called "final grades," not "opening bids."

I posted final grades at 2pm.

Within minutes my inbox was brimming with pleas from prodigal students, some of whom had attendance records so irregular that I had to double check to make sure they were actually students of mine.

Some of the afternoon's highlights:
"Dear Professor Bow,
I just received my final grade ...and I was just wondering if there is any way possible that I could try to bring up my grade to pass the class." 
 "Normally I would graciously accept my grade with the understanding that I did not put in as much effort as others, yet had I known that the written assignments would have been counted as part of my grade, then perhaps my approach to your course would have been different."
How rash of me to assume that students would know that they were supposed to complete the writing assignments, when the only hints provided were that these assignments were 1) discussed at length and in detail in class, and 2) posted on the course website with 3) points and a grading rubric attached to them. Also the class is designated "writing intensive."
"I was wondering if there was a time tomorrow I could schedule a meeting to come in and speak with you. I am graduating and the failing grade that you gave me [earned by not turning in most of the assignments] is unacceptable as it will not allow me to graduate."
Employers: YOU'RE WELCOME.
"Aloha Professor Bow,
I am graduating this semester and I noticed that the grade you have just put up for me
[note: not the grade I earned; the grade you put up for me] is really close to a C.  Is there anything that I can do to bump it up at this point?" 
SURE WHY NOT I'D LOVE TO SPEND MY UNPAID SUMMER...oh heck, this should just be my summer autoresponder email.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ike In Idaho Falls Sends In An Old School Snowflake Email!!! We're Killing Like It's 2009!

From: goof-off student
Subject: Organic Chemistry

Proffessor ,
I hope you remember me when i took organic chemistry with you when i was at Wasteland CC couple years ago. I had a question, so i took organic chemistry with you at WCC and i didn’t understand it well and i got a C- in the second quarter that ended up hurting my GPA. I am graduating and applying to medical school this summer and so I ended up retaking the whole Organic Chemistry series here at Wasted State U and got an A- i was wondering if it is possible to change my C- i got my second quarter to an Audit ??? The C- ended up hurting my Science GPA and since i retook it at a different institution i cannot get a re-take grade so i was wondering if it is possible that i can Audit that quarter somehow?? Thank You

My reply was: “It is not possible to change your grade to an Audit.”

What I wanted to do was ask which Medical Schools interested this student, the intent being to forward this student’s email to those schools.

Big Thirsty on "Walking"

I am mentoring a gradflake, the kind of student who took a whole course on the Solar System and still can't name the planets in order outward from the Sun. This student I hope will be finishing an M.S. thesis next semester, since it certainly won't happen this semester.

This student doesn't currently have a master's degree in any subject, and can't possibly complete one until next semester, at least not at this university. Nevertheless, this student plans to "walk," or in other words, participate in this semester's hooding ceremony anyway, before having completed the degree.

I told the student that I'd be glad to hood this student next year, after the degree is completed, but not before. This mattered to the student apparently not at all. I then made it clear that I don't approve. It wouldn't be a major inconvenience to the student or the student's family, since they live within a day's drive from here, although I think integrity should come before that, anyway.
Naturally, some Kool-Aid-drunk ratfink other faculty member then stepped in, to do the hooding. It may be just as well, since the way the hood goes on, one slip and it'd be strangulation. Interrupting the ceremony, where they (ought to) say, "...let them speak now or forever hold their peace," also wouldn't look good. I've thought of telling the student, "Find another adviser," but as always, admin won't allow it.

I feel like I need a bath. Even I am surprised that my university will allow this. Often, when I'm arguing a grade with a student, I point out that integrity matters, a LOT. 

(Q) How common is this practice of "walking"? What goes through people's minds when they participate in this fraud?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Some of them are thinking

First, the painfully sad news: the young man who wrote the letter below died in last night's Amtrak derailment.

The somewhat better news: he had a wonderful last semester in college (at the Naval Academy), thinking deeply about the material in at least one of his courses, and the issues it raised.  In a week when one elite college professor has gotten a lot of attention for claiming, in the New York Times, that students just don't do that anymore*, it's nice to have proof that some of them do (and I'm sure Mr. Zemser was not the only one, though that in no way diminishes the loss -- for his family, or for the nation he aspired to serve). 

Dearest Uncle,
You were one of the first people I spoke to earlier in the year when I thought about switching majors. At the time, I was an engineering major taking painfully boring, cookie cutter PowerPoint suffocated courses like Intro to Systems Engineering and Statics. I would ask myself every single day as I constantly checked my watch, impatiently waiting for class to end, “What am I doing with this crap?” I hated it. Unlike the majority of the people at the Academy, however, you supported my eventual major change to English, and with it came awesome courses like HE222, The Bible and Literature; classes that actually promoted thought and personal reflection, classes that rekindled my passion for learning. And boy, has this course lived up to its cool pre-registration name in January.
rest here.

Edited to add: while we often complain about Deans and holders of Ed degrees here, it sounds like  we also lost a pretty impressive member of both those groups.

Revisiting Yaro. The iPod.

I'm having a particularly bad day careerwise, the angst has beaten the ennui. Of vice versa. I never looked up either word.

So, as I sometimes do, I was roaming the archives. Found this and I just wanted to share. Our hero.


It Is I Yaro, Suddenly Emergent In Today's Society With My iPod!

At my college, the students invariably carry with them a weaponry of electronics, cellular phones and portable laptop computers, even iPads which some of my students take notes on during class - a practice that I approve of, as it at least shows up quite brightly on the screens, and I can verify that they are not on the face book.


"A Room Full of White People Is a Microaggression."

According to a new report released by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, just “walking into or sitting in” a classroom full of white people is a microaggression in itself. 

The rest.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Get naked or fail: Professor requires students to take final nude.

The mother of a California college student said she was bothered when she learned one of her daughter’s classes required her to get naked for her final exam.

The final exam for the art visual class at the University of California at San Diego involved students acting out a series of gestures, according to the teacher. The last gesture was labeled “erotic self.”

“I’m not sending her to school for this. How terrible, this sucks, this is just wrong,” the student’s mother told KGTV. “And to blanketly say you must be naked in order to pass my class. It makes me sick to my stomach.”

Pennsylvania Penny Poses A Question.

I will confess right off that I'm not a teacher of any kind myself; my husband is the academic in the house. However, I'd be interested in the CM's take on an incident that I've been wondering about for a long time.

Ancient years ago, when my husband was a grad student, I worked as a secretary at the same university, in one of the foreign-language departments. One day, one of our doctoral students—a native speaker of the language in question—came into the office with a very interesting tale.

A master's student in another department had offered to pay her to translate a journal article from the language in question into English. Someone had suggested it to him as a source for his master's thesis, but he didn't read the language well enough to deal with it in the original. Fortunately, our student had the presence of mind to check with the other department. Turned out that the other student was supposed to be translating the article himself, as part of the work for his thesis. Obviously, our student didn't accept the job. Equally obviously, the jig was up for the other guy: not only had he been planning to cheat, he'd tried to suborn someone else to help him, without that person knowing that they'd be abetting fraud.

We never did hear what happened to the other student, so all these years I've been wondering: What is, or ought to be, the penalty for academic dishonesty that gets uncovered before it actually takes place? Is it worse for a high-stakes project like a master's thesis than for an ordinary course assignment? Is it worse yet when you try to involve someone else who doesn't know what's going on?

Pennsylvania Penny

Monday, May 11, 2015

Early Thirsty on General Education.

I have taught many non-majors classes over the years, but never in consecutive semesters.  I've often thought "Why are these kids so horrible?  I remember this being a better assignment." and "Wait, these kids are alright.  Why do I remember this teaching assignment being so horrible?"

This semester I am teaching it on the heels of having taught it in the fall and I think I finally solved the mystery and wanted to see if this pattern is recognized by others and if it happens in other fields.  Here is my hypothesis:

Non-majors courses go better in the fall than in the spring because the fall sections are full of eager beavers who want to check things off their lists, and the spring is full of loser seniors who put it off to the last minute.

In the fall, my students got overwhelmed in the beginning because they didn't know they were supposed to do the reading on the syllabus and not wait for me to announce reading assignments the way high school teachers do.  Other than that, they were open minded, energetic and curious.

This semester if I change the color chalk I use, it sparks a cacophony of indignation and I need to duck the hate rays that fly from their stinky f***ing faces.  I need to defend every word I use and every question I ask.  The rate of "Can you tell me exactly what is going to be on the test?" requests is through the roof and it is often followed up by "because I need to do well in this class I have to graduate".

That's got to be it.  I went back through old Excel files of grade books and every time I've f***ing hated my non-majors, it was the spring, and every time I've loved them, it was the fall.

Have you ever seen this? 
Does this happen in [Western Civ, Psych 101, Composition II, Yoga....], or is it a Math/Science thing?

Stat Porn

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Thirsty

Every year I look forward to summer, and then, usually after the first week of summer, the depression and anxiety hit.  I was diagnosed with clinical depression in grad school, developed anxiety later, and have been effectively treated for both. But I still have occasional episodes, and they often come in the summer.

Q: Does anyone else have issues with mood 
when summer hits?  How do you cope?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

If you "even asked two professors and they don't understand it either" but you can't tell me who you asked....

Either you're lying and you didn't ask anyone, or they told you not to tell because they don't want me to know that they have tenure but can't do a basic Gen. Chem. problem.  If the former, f*** off.  If the latter, refer to the lecture on evaluating your sources.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Greta on the End of the Semester (II)

bad friday haiku (with apologies to theodore roethke)


the rains come like the
tears i shed reading essays:
slow, steady, endless.


the river rises,
carries away debris. my
office needs a flood.

Dissertation Misery.149-Page PhD Thesis With No Punctuation Is an Anticolonialist Protest.

Patrick Stewart, 61, has successfully defended his PhD thesis in architecture at the University of British Columbia, despite the fact that it was mostly written without any punctuation marks or capital letters or identifiable grammar.

Friday Thirsty: in which the Academic is overwhelmed by Grading-Gremlins

Ah, grading, how do I not love thee?  If I could bear to hold a pen a moment longer in my aching paw, I might count the ways. 

It involves judging the often unjudgable, brings out the worst in students, administrators and colleagues, drains the last vestiges of energy and enthusiasm we can dredge up at the end of the semester... the absolute worst thing, for me about grading, though, is the way it makes me doubt myself.  Doubt all the preparation and work I put into the class, sure, but also it sends me scurrying back to my email and my notes -&nbsp
  • surely if all six of these students say a hamster is a kind of horse, there must be a reason for it - was there a mistake in my powerpoint, in the text book, on the assignment sheet?  
  • Johnny has used only gerbil studies references - did I really tell him not to when I gave feedback on his draft? Surely I did... but he's a good student
  • three essays use references to von GoldHamster (2012) to argue that Goebbels-the-Grand-Gerbil-of-Geerbuuldorf banned exercise wheels in the 700s.  I'm sure he actually made them compulsory, but now they've made me doubt my memory, and I need to check the reference again, just in case...
And on and on, especially in GenEd type classes where I make no claim to be entirely on top of the literature.  It makes marking even more painful that it already is.  But what about you, dear Miserians?

What's the one thing you hate most about grading?

Sent in by Ribaldry Is My Middle Name.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Purpose of the Test

Background: Spring is one of those special times of year when the air handling system in the Donorbucks Building switches from heating to cooling, or vice versa, sometimes more than once per day. Because the air supply and return vents are not in the same rooms, we must keep our doors open while in our offices to achieve airflow sufficient for sustaining life. While the fans shut down for the changeover, the minutes-long absence of their jet-plane-like roar underscores just how acoustically live the cinder-block-walled, concrete-floored seventh floor can be, and we can’t help but hear almost every word in nearby offices. Fortunately, we’re all pretty quiet, except when a student happens upon the floor. I tender for your amusement what I overheard the other day.

Unidentified voice: Professor Panquehue?

Panquehue: Oh, hello, Stu. What brings you here today?

Stu: Well, I heard from other students that there was an adjustment on the last exam?

Panquehue: Yes, we discovered a problem with one of the questions that resulted in some students gaining another point.

Stu: Well, I feel it's not fair that I didn't get any more points.

Panquehue: Not fair? Please explain.

Stu: My score should have gone up.

Panquehue: Okay, essentially reaffirming the consequent. Please make your case again in different words.

Stu: I should have gotten another point like my friend did, so it's not fair.

Panquehue: I am sensing a pattern here. Maybe I can help. You think another point was due to you, and you are inquiring as to why that didn't happen, such as maybe there was a mistake in the scoring.

"Dating website targets college students for sugar daddies and mommas." Sent In By Ribaldry is My Middle Name.

I'll pick you
up after Chem, baby.
This is one of those stories that I almost can't believe wasn't in The Onion. My favorite detail is the story's subhead: "Florida Ranks Number One." What a world.

The Flava.
Tired of having to work three jobs to put herself through college, a USF sophomore, whom we'll call Ann, joined two years ago.
"It lets me live kind of a cushy lifestyle while I am in college," said Ann, who chose to hide her identity.
The online dating site matches young adults they call "sugar babies" with sugar daddies and mommas, promising "mutually beneficial relationships" with no strings attached.

The Rest. 

This Week's Big Thirsty.

Q: What Do You Want To Ask?