Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stop Making My Job Harder

Dear Namby Pamby Co-Worker,
You are the problem and the bane of my existence. You are the reason that when students get to my class they cannot read basic directions, follow deadlines, or write a basic paper. To help solve this problem I have gotten together with like minded professors to offer you the following suggestions.

1. If you make a deadline follow it. Do not accept every excuse under the sun as to why Suzy Snowflake could not turn in her paper on Green Baskets. It does not matter if her cat died or if her computer exploded just as she was about to print her paper, unless she has confirmation from a doctor that she was bleeding from the head give her a zero.

2. Try to improve their writing skills. I don’t want to hear, “Prof Namby Pamby told me to write a paper this way.” At first I simply assumed they were lying, but the evidence is mounting against you. I don’t care what field you are in, a paper that is a two page long single paragraph is just plain wrong.

3. Remember, they are not your friends. Stop treating them as such. Stop getting drinks with them on Friday night, stop trying to be the “cool prof”. You are not teaching them anything.

If anyone else has other suggestions you will be receiving them shortly.

Best Regards,
Heartless Prof.


  1. Oooh, I have some!

    Stop telling them that their first essays, or essays with only one source, or essays handed in on Wednesdays, don't need correct citation. I don't require citation for my own benefit, but so they get practice and learn to do it correctly.

    Stop stapling their essays for them. SRSLY. They need to learn to staple their own fucking papers.

  2. I teach a variety of writing assignments, some that are rather informal and only give credit through attribution (like popular magazines), and others that require formal documentation through an accepted format (Chicago, for me, APA for others).

    Students sometimes hear just black and white, however, and if I tell them an assignment is MORE formal, and MORE academic, they wonder where first person went, and why I require a bibliography.

    But, yeah on the stapling!!!

  3. Stop letting them them do bullshit work in advanced courses. Encouraging them to submit their brain droppings as intellectual work only leads them to think they can get a doctorate too.

  4. And stop allowing them to write about their feelings about literary texts. I don't give a damn about their feelings.

  5. We teach the "whole student" at my college, and I'm really pleased when a freshman is able to share his/her feelings about a text, literary or not. It's the first step toward developing a claim or thesis they can incorporate into a paper.

    And I have about 6 staplers in my office. I take one to class on days when papers are due. How hard is that?

  6. And stop letting the plagiarists get away with it just because you don't want to take the time to prosecute them.

  7. Don't let them think that an essay entitled "The Day I Was Born" constitutes a research project for an upper-year class.

    Don't rewrite their work for them. Don't sacrifice your weekends to meet with them so you can rewrite their work for them.

    Don't let first-years pick the readings.

  8. @ Ruby: WORD.

    Lucy inspired another one (Lucy, so inspirational, from Ben Jonson to me), which is: don't answer email the second it arrives, especially really late at night, really early in the morning, or on the weekend.

  9. I'll cop to having a stapler in the room. But I make them staple it and they are actually surprised by this. It's right there, why is this asking so much? wtf? Someone must be doing it for them, or they just have such short attention spans that an hour after one professor declines to staple their work, they're asking another.

    One kid shoved a messy stack of multiple assignments to me. I said "There's a stapler over there." and pointed. When he came back, he had stapled the misaligned stack (remember when Post-Its were still new and exciting and one rainbow colored stack came twisted? It was worse than that) stapled about 3" in from the end of anything. I was torn between taking it, grading what I could read of whichever asignment was on top then writing "What does this have to do with Lab #5?" on every page of labs 6 and 7, but I said "You have to be kidding.", pushed the stack back toward him and went to clean up. When I came back to my desk there was a proper stack of three stapled assignments.

    Now this one sounds like an opposite, but... Stop making them memorize the fucking periodic table. We made the damn table to be used as a tool. If you're so weak in your subject that you need to eat class time by testing their memorization of something designed to be used, that's your problem. Stop letting them think that they either deserve a cookie for knowing C=carbon (a facility that comes by the end of the term whether you test them on it or not) or that you've taught them anything.

  10. ONe of the accepted nursing exams asks nursing students to know not only the names of elements and their symbols but things like their atomic weights by heart. Memorizing is not useless in their cases, poor things.

  11. I deduct points for lack of staples. One of you responded by turning the next one in with 4 staples and an inquiry about extra credit. I laughed heartily.

    I was a slacker, once, and didn't enforce filename/filetype standards. Never again. In the future, points will be deducted for improper filenames and deviations from accepted file types. I realize you were potty-trained in the 20th century, but it is the 21st century now. Knowing how to convert to a PDF is a critical life-skill.

  12. Stop letting them confuse morals and plots with themes, and examples with metaphors. I don't want to ever again see a paper that says, "The theme of this story is that you should always be good to your parents," or, "The man wants to eat a hamburger. This is a metaphor for his hunger."

    And, yes, stop letting them get away with plagiarism because you don't want to do the work to catch them. I know it's a lot of work but it's important.

  13. @Alan: following file type requirements/naming conventions is definitely the new stapling. I always carried an itty-bitty stapler (in self protection, as I always said -- self protection from being buried in an avalanche of unattached pages, that is), and, now that papers are virtual, I tend to patiently rename/resave their files if I can. Maybe I'm a wuss, but it's quicker than arguing/making them fix it. Of course that attitude is at the core of the problem, but I do prosecute plagiarists, and give challenging assignments, and insist on paragraphs (hey, that one is easy; you don't even have to read a page-long paragraph to know it's too long).

    @WhatLadder: for what it's worth, my students (mostly late sophomores/early juniors) seem thoroughly traumatized by past experiences with differing but equally stringent citation requirements. I just got a paragraph-long diatribe on "why can't the disciplines all use the same format!" in response to a fairly innocuous "do you have any concerns about this class" question on an introductory questionnaire, and a lot of shorter replies in more or less the same vein. Part of the point of the class they're taking from me is to teach them that, as ELS pointed out, appropriate citation conventions vary by context; I guess I've got my work cut out for me. But you'll be glad to know that, in coming up with spur-of-the-moment posting directions for an exercise I converted from in-class to online in honor of our second-day-of-class snow day today, I insisted that, in the course of completing the exercise, they put any words taken directly from the handout in quotation marks. As I told them, it's only an exercise, but it's a good habit to get into.

  14. Stop giving them points for "trying really hard" when the quality of the work is poor.

  15. I'm ashamed (ASHAMED, I say!), but this semester I added the following to my syllabus: "All papers must be stapled."

    In the first class a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that my name was not Office Max. So far, I have 100% compliance; just call me Locutus.

    And... since I see a lot of new grad students, I feel an obligation to have them cite and write properly, upfront (and most don't). I sure don't want to be the knucklehead that Heartless Prof describes.

  16. Stop giving extra credit, ever ever EVER.

    No more study guides, aside from a list of reading to do, THEMSELVES.


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