Monday, October 19, 2015

The Extremely Rare Flashback / Update! 8 Years Ago Today.

Dear RGM,

This is Louise from Lakeside writing. I completely missed the many-years-ago switch to the new blog and I am the worse for it. But luckily this semester I've been catching up with "the misery" and fully enjoying it.

I always liked catching up on the occasional flashback to the old days, though, and since today is the anniversary of an important post of my own, I thought I'd say hello.

After October 19th, 2008, I continued being tough with students, requiring more, making them accountable, not just with their excuses, which was the topic of my post 7 years ago.

And the change has been remarkable.

They'll do what we tell them, or they'll get away with what we let them. I'm sure of it.

My syllabus is tighter than a dolphin's pooper, I can tell you that. It's lengthy, but so be it.

Never give up, never surrender.

Good luck everyone,


Sunday, October 19, 2008
Louise From Lakeside Lets Loose on Her Liars.

Enough with the stupid lies. I've had it. At first, I gave you the benefit of the doubt when you told me that you couldn't come to class because you had a job interview callback, or an ROTC informational meeting, or because you had to take your roommate to the E.R.

You missed important classes, tests and/or presentations and sent me your email excuses. I believed what you wrote, and I let you make up the work. You were so genuine, so polite, so willing to do what ever it would take to make up what you missed. I empathized with your difficulties being in two places at once.

But this year, I wizened up and decided to start checking up on you. I began to ask questions. So, who was the ROTC officer you met with? Who exactly did you have the job interview with? What are their phone numbers and email addresses? What hospital did you rush your roommate to? Please bring me the discharge papers. And it has turned out to be the case every time that you have lied to me. I know this because you can't provide any proof that your story is legit. You have no contact information to share. No business cards, no email addresses. No paperwork. Nothing.

What really gets me is how you embellish your stories. The lies get bigger and bigger. And you do it with such polish, as if generally accustomed to getting your way through such lying and storytelling. I've always suspected that students often lied to me in order to get my OK to make up work. But now that I KNOW you are lying to me, I'm as mad as hell and I'm dead tired of dealing with this in a"professional" manner.

I can only see one way out. I want my own"Daily Show" so that I can make fun of you in the same way Jon Stewart makes fun of public figures caught lying. I want to roll my eyes. I want to show hidden video of you sleeping juxtaposed to imagined video of you doing whatever worthy thing you claimed to have been doing instead of taking my tests.

I would do to you what Jon Stewart does to people who lie: I'd call you out in front of the world and put it on YouTube so no one, least of all me, ever forgets.


  1. Nice to have an update! The lies/excuses for/about late/missed work don't bother me too much, but that's probably because I teach classes with few to no quizzes/tests (so, no issues with makeups) and lots and lots of written work, all leading up to a couple of major assignments which either get done, or not, by the end of the term. Time, in other words, is on my side. I seem to remember others here mentioning that they produce a similar effect by rolling the grade weights for any missed tests into later (presumably cumulative) tests, but I've never tried that myself.

    That difference aside, this strikes me as true in most if not all circumstances:

    They'll do what we tell them, or they'll get away with what we let them. I'm sure of it.

    The only issue is who is included in the "we" -- individual faculty members alone? Faculty members as a group (including some who may pressure others to be more "sympathetic")? Faculty members plus administrators plus academic/psychological advisors, support staff, et al.? All of the above plus helicopter parents hovering just outside the FERPA limit (or, with permission, inside it)? The broader the "we" who are willing and able to hold students accountable, I'd argue (and the earlier in their academic careers students experience such accountability), the better it all works.

    P.S. Lying about a meeting with an ROTC officer is a very, very bad idea. Commanding officers, in my experience, do not appreciate such behavior, and are quite willing to tell their subordinates so. While the military has its weaknesses, failure to enforce accountability is not one of them.

    1. I can't stand to see a ROTC cadet misbehaving, especially in uniform. Whenever I do, I don't hesitate to report the fool to the CO. Don't let them get away with crap: your national security may well depend on it!

      (Plus the military has more than enough "shit detail" for them that someone needs to do.)

  2. I am very glad to hear of your success, Louise. I have a similar teaching philosophy, and my syllabus is now up to 18 pages, and counting.

    Something that's worrying me, though, is that I think I may be reaching the limits of what my students can do, even if I threaten them with a heavy-duty staple gun. (TWITCH! TWITCH!!) Last week, I gave my general-ed-intro-astronomy class for non-majors a homework assignment about radioactive decay that involves math I could have run rings around in 6th grade.

    Fewer than 10% of the class could do it. Ergo, I can't see how they understand the phenomenon. Is it any wonder how people running for president "don't believe" in evolution?

    Fewer than 10% of the class can write at college level, too. I'd estimate that half of our graduates can't write as what I used to think was 9th-grade level. Their thinking is disturbingly similar.

  3. I like the vigor, the spirit. But way too many instructors in our modern world have no leg to stand on. They can't require this because it means they won't get classes next term.

    ALL the bullshit in our profession pales when you hold up the adjunct crisis next to it.