Friday, January 28, 2011

Will this class give me any trouble?

I had a girl ask on day 1 "I'm a blah blah blah major.  Will this class give me any trouble?"  I said "Maybe, I don't know."

She e-mailed me later that day to ask literally the same question, but she also had the name of the class wrong.  Not wrong like she said "Intro chem" instead of "general chem", wrong like the first word didn't make any sense, I'd tell you, but it would be a give away.  It was like she said "I'm a blah blah blah major.  I was wondering if Hippopotamus of Chemistry is going to give me any troule."

Can I just say "yes" now?

That's probably what I should have done when she asked in the first place. 


  1. I think I will say "yes" to your question.

  2. Yes, the class will give her trouble, and she will give you trouble -- and if you can find a way to tell her that, maybe she will drop?

  3. My automatic response to 'is this a hard course' is 'yes, very'.

    I get paid for teaching the course, not how many take it.

  4. "Hippopotamus of Chemistry" will keep me smiling for the rest of the day.

  5. I'm with BB. Smiling.

    I would email her back with just this:


    -Professor Wombat

    Please do let us know if she drops.

  6. As in the scene in "Arthur" where the prostitute asks Bitterman "Is there something *wrong* with him?" [Pause] Bitterman: "Yes."

  7. I fill up my Intro-Astronomy-for-non-science-majors every semester, so when I get a case like this, I am not at all shy about saying, "YES!" I sometimes even tell students, in so many words, that they should take some other class, if for example they are going to have problems with coming to labs (which in an astronomy class necessarily take place in the evenings).

  8. Unfortunately, I have learned through experience that the student does not want an honest answer to this question. They just want snowflake reassurance. In fact, I had two students ask the very same question, right after the other, recently. I told the first one, that yes, it would give them trouble. That student sulked away, blaming me for making the class too hard. I told the second student, that no, they will be just fine in the class. The second student happily walked away thanking me for my time. I never saw either student, after three weeks of class had been in session.

  9. @Rdbike2229:

    Don't give them snowflake reassurance. They need to learn about how the real world works, sooner or later. We are not customer service representatives, we are educators.


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