Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sitting at a Table Full of Hammers

An email: Professor Morose, I can’t find the term ‘weave’ in the book. (It’s on the study guide). What chapter is it in?

I responded: Check the chapter on basket-making. Or Google it.

It took longer to write the original email than it would have taken to find the answer online! And this was from one of my B students! Did Google disappear? Did Bing? Did Yahoo? To be fair, it’s not in the book index, although it is on the PowerPoint outline I provide and it is in the book. But I get this type of question every semester. Come on people! You have the most powerful research tool ever invented at your fingertips, and it’s amazingly easy to use. I know you know how to type, because that’s all you do before class. Use the damn tool! It’s as if you were sitting at a bench full of hammers lamenting that you couldn’t put a nail in the wall to hang a picture!

!!!!!!!!!! (I still had a few left over.)


  1. I heard about this a week or so ago.


    Try it. The internets is fun.

  2. I think this comes back to 'compartmentalization' again. Knowledge is limited to the course they are in. They can't be sure that the meaning that they google is the same as the meaning intended by course.

  3. I get that a lot, too. My students have to answer 3/5 questions each week. Often they will say, "Oh, I chose not to answer number two because I don't know what X means."

    X is never some arcane technical term, it's a normal word. For example, connotation.

    I just remind them of such amazing websites as dictionary.com and shake my head. Not much else I can do.

  4. Ah, Ophelia.

    I remember as a wee undergrad seeing the work "epitome" written out on an exam. It was a word I knew and had used as often as is appropriate for that word. It was also a word that I had never seen in writing.

    The following was the coversation in my head:
    Me: "Epi-t-oh-m. Epit-oh-m. E-pit-ohm. What does that mean? Hmm. Are there any context clues? I know that wasn't a character in the book. How do I not know this word? Does everybody else know it? They are all typing. They must know that word. Can I ask what this work means? No. Professor [redacted] is really mean. She'd eat me alive. I better not. Epi-tohm. E-p-i-toh-m. Nothing. Well. I guess I'll just write around the word. Maybe it isn't all that important to the overall meaning of the prompt."

  5. @Sawyer -- that's a hoot! I've gotten many of these requests recently, and I wonder if it's a combination of DrNathaniel's answer and a desire to be spoon fed. I mean, Google give you a whole list of stuff; who wants to read all of that? Either way, it's a pain in my ass. (And it's not just the students; my mom is just as bad. No, Mom, I wouldn't like to sift through my entire recipe file when you could simply GOOGLE IT, MOTHER!! Ahem. Sorry.)

  6. @CMP -- I remember trying to puzzle out 'penultimate' as an undergraduate, but missing the mark (figuratively, and, perhaps, literally as well).

  7. SSS: thanks for the link, that's pretty funny!!!!


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