Monday, April 25, 2011

My Tipping Point

It's Monday of the last week of classes, and my freshmen are writing their final research essays, due by Friday. Because they cannot seem to grasp the finer points of citation--wait, who am I kidding? Because they cannot grasp any points of citation--nor margins, fonts, and the elusive skill of double spacing--I schedule time in a computer lab for them this week. I work with them one-on-one and as a group. Each sits at his or her own computer to use for the duration of the class.

My tipping point? Slacker Slick, who missed three weeks of class, looked over his computer screen--the computer was on, his cell phone was right by the keyboard (also on, unfortunately)--and asked, "What's Wednesday's date?"

"Seriously?" I asked.

"I'm really tired," he said.

His timing was unfortunate. The first question asked, it made me deaf to all other lazy questions. My response to nearly every student who asked something out of sheer laziness was, "Seriously?"

They got the message and learned to fend for themselves pretty quickly. Most of them asked me questions pertinent to their essays and I was able to help them. The majority of the session was productive.

Slacker Slick? He spent eighty percent of our allotted hour looking at Facebook. Then he checked and split.


  1. Oh my GOD one of these days I'm going to make a grand gesture, abandon all pretense of teaching, and come up with a LIFE BASICS off-the-cuff lecture about what everyone needs to do to get their shit together!!

    I'm so sorry, Greta. What a class. That sucks.

  2. Well, let's see: it's a comp class, and one of the main tasks of any writer is to accurately anticipate how a particular audience might react to his/her words. If we teachers, as one of their main audiences, treat lazy questions as perfectly understandable/acceptable, are we really doing our students any favors? "Seriously?" strikes me as pedagogically sound by this measure, and reasonably civil to boot.

  3. I'm so glad I'm not the only one to use "Seriously?" when faced with stupid questions in class. Students know it's a lazy question. If you answer it, you're reinforcing the fact that they shouldn't have to even TRY to do their part to function as a student and as a human being.

  4. A haiku for you:

    "Seriously?" it
    smacks of despair and the sad
    state of our students...

  5. Ah! You are beautiful people. You made me laugh before facing the next comp class.

    Thanks for the nice haiku, Cynic!

  6. Yes, they'll take whatever we're willing to give them. They get one instructor who treats them like fifth graders, and it's hard for the rest to treat them like adults.

    Love ya, Greta!

  7. I am looking forward with breathless anticipation to "Bad Teacher",which can't possibly live up to my expectations, but the trailer hooked me with that one scene where she's writing beside a student quiz answer, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

    Now I really want a stamp. Perhaps it should just say "AYFKM?" in deference to their tender youthful sensibilities. But it would get the point across.


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