Yesterday I gave oral exams all day for one of my ethics classes. The tally:
- On being asked how they determine if an action is right or wrong, fourteen students informed me that everyone has their own opinion. Then they looked at me, waiting for me to move on to the next question. That was their whole answer.
- Two separate students agreed that the Nazis weren't that bad, because they thought they were doing the right thing. We never even talked about the Nazis in this class, but maybe I need to figure out some way of fitting them in. The second one, I just stared at her and blinked, repeatedly. I didn't even hide my contempt. Then I said "Six million Jews were killed in concentration camps." Then blinked some more.
- Every single student used "I just feel that . . . " to mean "I think that . . . " I hate that shit.
- Only about half the students mentioned anything we read. Many more students mentioned the movie we watched in class.
- One student picked his nose. Then he looked at the result. Then he did it again.
- One student did her nails. I'm not shitting. This happened. It was worse than the nose-picker. At least that might have been unconscious.
- One student ate lunch, a large and greasy sandwich out of a styrofoam container. During an oral exam. A ten minute oral exam. Like he couldn't wait?
- Two students had their phones go off during the exam. Neither of them answered it, at least, and both apologized.
- About fifteen students did fine, however, and ended up with very high and admittedly gentle grades. But it's the ones that horrify who stick with you.
Q: Oral exams. Do you give them? How do you endure the face-to-face feckless stupidity?