Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RYS Flashback: Good & Bad Eggs. Five Years Ago Today.

On Eggs

I teach a 3-3 load with 400 undergraduates a semester plus graduate students, and am expected to have at least a book, 3-4 articles, and significant progress on the next book for tenure. Teaching counts as 30% of my job. Some of the courses I teach are undergraduate general education requirements, which means that the majority of the students enrolled in the class do not want to be there. That said, most of them are good eggs about the requirement.

The problem is the bad eggs. One told me last week that he wouldn't take the reading quiz because he didn't get an email from me reminding him of the quiz. The quiz was posted on the syllabus and I had reminded the class verbally of the quiz twice. The 174 other students in the class came in expecting the quiz and took it. The student then followed me back to my office saying that "didn't I think my class has too much reading" (no), and that it wasn't "fair" that I only test on the whole book. He thought I should give a test for each chapter (I pointed out that this would take a lot of class time). He said "all of his other faculty" send him quiz reminder emails.

He also said that he has never read a 100-page book and it was "unfair" of me to assign so much reading. Part of what is truly frightening here is that this student is a sophomore – which means he managed to pass his classes his freshman year.

I found myself smiling at the student and patiently explaining course rules and procedures for over ½ hour – rules I had already gone over twice the first week of classes. I can't keep spending this much time with bad eggs when I have to publish, get grants, and would much prefer to save my student time for the good eggs.


  1. What would happen if you refused to continue explaining what was written in the syllabus to him? Over the years I have developed my "don't bother me with your stupid crap" face. It helps. I've also been known to say "you need to leave my office now" on more than one occasion.


  2. That really does seem like an overwhelming job.

  3. He's just a sophomore? This semester I have senior English major who complained that 80-page a week reading assignments were unfair as Hawthorne and Poe "are practically written in another language!" A senior. English major.

  4. Two words: pepper spray.

    1. Seven words: Waving a Tokarev pistol under their nose.


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