After nearly 20 years of banging my head against the wall of declining student accountability, I about lost my shit today in class.
I teach Business Communications. It's a field, I have to admit, in flux. Many students for the past few years cannot get their minds around the need for traditionally formatted letters and projects. They want everything online, including homework, presentations, etc. The idea of printing something, formatting it, making it nice, etc. is just too much trouble.
Nonetheless, I require some projects turned in on paper with formatting, margins, and, oh God, please forgive me, a staple. I make it sort of funny. "If you give me a 10 page presentation without a staple, I'll put that on the dash of my car, I'll drive really fast home, and whatever pages are inside I'll grade. Everyone sort of chuckles. Maybe they're on the Tweeter. I don't fucking know.
Anyway, I took in 40 projects last week, multi-page, and 10 of them were just loose stacks of paper. One student had done that ridiculous origami paper-folding trick that is worthless.
Today I gave those 10 back. "Listen," I said, "following formats and instructions are part of the requirements for this class. I'm knocking 5% off of these and returning them to you until you turn them in as requested."
Most took them back without incident but one student stuck around.
"What did you think of it?"
"My presentation. I worked really hard on it."
"Oh, I haven't read it yet. Once you turn it in as I requested, I'll give it a good read."
"Because of the staple?"
"Actually, not really, because you didn't fulfill the requirement."
"I don't have a stapler."
"Yes, I figured. They're handy. They're in most of the offices on campus, too, and I've seen students beg a staple or two in order to keep the machinery of the college going."
"You should make a stapler a requirement on the syllabus. That's sort of a trick."
"Yeah, I guess I'll add that next term."
"Oh okay," he said, suddenly smiling. "So you'll take my presentation now?"