Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Contemplative Cynic Brings Some Student Misery.

Another treasure of student logic:

Hey Professer:
I was'nt in class this week and got 0 on 3 assiments. Since I was'nt
there, I wonder why I got 0. Please call me.

Clueless Karl


My Reponse:

Dear Clueless Karl:

By your logic, if you never attended class and turned nothing in all
semester, you'd earn an A. At the beginning of the semester, when I
said that everyone starts out with the potential to earn an A and has
to work hard to maintain it, I didn't mean that you maintained an A by
simply doing nothing. See you in class next week. BTW, I cannot call
you because you did not supply me with a phone number.

Professor Cynic


And while I'm on the subject, phone messages from students seem
particularly inane, too. Sometimes I want to break my phone just so no
one can ever leave me another message:

Student Message left: Um, yeah, I have a question about the homework.
Could you call me back. Thanks.

Me: Hmm, no name, no number. Must not expect a call back.

Student Message left: Um, yeah, I called earlier with a question. Can
you call me in the next hour? Thanks.

Me: Hmm, still no name, no number.

Student Message left: Oh, you're still not in your office [at 10 p.m.
How rude of me!]. Can you call me at 555-1212?

Me returning call: Hi, This is Professor Cynic: I'm not sure who
called, but I'm returning a call to someone who had a question about

Student: Oh, yeah, um I think I'm good.

Me: Are you sure? I'm happy to answer any questions you have.

Student: No, I'm good.

Me: Oh, OK. See you in class tomorrow.

Student: Wait, um... who is this?


  1. I give students a phone number: my Google Voice number. It does a fair job of transcribing the message ("I'm ill", "my cat is sick", "I have to work late", etc.), because I tell them that my primary method of communication is EMail.

    And why? As someone else mentioned in another thread, some of us use Email for tracking/recording purposes; there's no question that someone said something. Given the sign-in info in Blackholeboard, we know that many students are checking stuff obsessively on-line (e.g., Grade Center, Assignments, who knows what), so they can be convinced to be just as obsessive in the use of a nice asynchronous tool like Email.

  2. Dude, if your office phone accidentally gets disconnected from the wall, you are unlikely to know there are voice mails. Just sayin'.

  3. I'm pretty conscientious about replying to student email, but all of my syllabi include the following boilerplate:

    "Phone calls are, frankly, lousy. You're certainly invited to call (***-****), but it's difficult to communicate technical questions and answers clearly without reading or writing down anything. Phone messages are completely futile: don't bother. "

  4. @Sultans, No, sadly, I do not LET them call me. My syllabus clearly states, "Please use email to communicate with me," but for students who don't know how to follow even rudimentary instructions, the phone is there to mess with me. I am clearly going to have to take Prof. Harpy's advice and just unplug the insanity or use a more strongly-worded message on my voicemail, such as that left by Hopsage. My outgoing message will now be: "You've reached the voicemail of Professor Cynic. Do not leave a message because phone calls are, frankly, lousy and futile. Send me an email instead."

    Thanks, all!

  5. Our Dean said last week, "Remember, we work for the students!"

    I threw up in my mouth a little.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.