Saturday, March 16, 2013

For Fab

Why we love students...
I'm sick, it's cold and rain-snowing out, and I'm trying to wrap up course grades for an online session.  This is a busy time for me, of course, because all of a sudden everyone cares so very deeply about their grades on every little goddamn assignment dating back ten weeks that they just have to contact me now, the day after the course ended.  Because, you know, "failure is not an option" and they "worked so hard,"  blah, blah, blah, insert the typical cliches.

Anyway, so I get an e-mail from Plagiarist Petunia, who six weeks ago lifted an "essay" in its entirety from a general-info web site, pasted it into a Word doc, put her name on it, and sent it in.  I gave her a 0 for the assignment and an F for the course.  Petunia says that there is "no excuse" for what she did, and she was "clearly wrong."  Could I "please just reconsider" and let her pass the course?  She "can't afford" to take it again.

Never mind the moral hypocrisy, the patent BS about money (she can afford to take the class again, but her scholarship doesn't pay for Fs, so she's going to have to pay for this class).  All of that is just par-for the-course nonsense.  The thing that pissed me off was that Petunia, like many of her classmates tend to do, signed off with the following:

"Have a blessed day!"

I'm trying to articulate why that phrase irritates me so much that I want to reach through the computer and slap their blessed little faces.  Is she trying to tell me that Jesus would have given her a second chance?  Why does this particular sign-off so often conclude e-mails that are petulant and inappropriate, or asking for completely unreasonable "favors"?

I don't know, man.  Maybe beer knows the answer. I'll give beer a try.



32 comments:

  1. I hate that, too, but being from the NW corner of things, I'd always associated it with groovy crystal-fondling Wiccan Deadheads, "Blessed be" as they hand you something containing tempeh in a misama of patchouli. Now I'm deep in Our Lord Jesus's Flyover Country and still hear it, so it must have this alternative culture/ valence.
    BEER KNOWS ALL TRUST IN BEER OUR LORD AND SAVIOR

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  2. Stupid typos. I need more beer.

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  3. I am a Christian person, and this drives me batshit crazy. Fuck you and your God Bless you and your family. FUCK YOU< YOU HEAR ME!!!??? If I just gave you an F, don't tell me "God Bless you" or any of that crap.

    I gave you an F, because GOD wanted me to hold up some FUCKING STANDARDS and guarantee t hat your crappy education does not get even more crappy on MY watch.

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    1. Maybe the student feels that the F is like a slap in the face, so the student is turning the other cheek. Or maybe, if the grade is changed, that's a blessing. Basically, the student is saying "May God bless you with the wisdom that will make you change my grade".

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    2. Monica, I prefer your second interpretation, as at least then I can agree with the impulse (to pray for someone to have a change of heart0. The first interpretation (turning the other cheek to an act of unkindness) is what pisses me off. I am not being unkind in the slightest if I fail a student. It is the whole feelings thing, and the nice teachers give good grades thing, that's what pisses me off. And the sanctimonious better than though turning the other cheek thing. That too.

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  4. It's an online course. Just be thankful you don't have to deal with them in person.

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    1. In some ways though, I find my online students get saucier and meaner. They never have to actually look me in the face, and I think that is why.

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    2. Me too, Bella. Back when I taught Hamster Evolution online, the apologist students seemed to get bolder every semester. One told the class that his "research" contradicted every aspect of Darwin's theory, and invited his classmates to email him for details. Another finally came around to accepting that there are transitional fossils, but signed his final email with some words about "trusting the Lord your God."

      Ain't my god.

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    3. "trusting the lord your God" is pretty audacious. If s(he) had even written "our" instead, then the implication could have been s(he) feels God is everyone's-----but saying "your" is pushing it off on you. Still obnoxious, maybe, but at someone seems less offensive to me.

      Semantics, maybe. But I notice these things.....

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  5. I generally hate religiosity in all forms, but I wouldn't take the expression too seriously. I once lived in an area of the country where "have a blessed one" basically meant the same thing as "see you later" or "goodbye." People also used it interchangeably with fine, as in "How are you?" "I'm blessed, thank you."

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    1. Fair point, GG, but, personally, I'd never want to spend enough time in the Bible Belt so that perfunctory religious patter was possible.

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  6. They do and say so many idiotic thing, I wouldn't even chalk this up to anything especially religious.

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  7. Oh Petunia--bless her heart, isn't she adorable?

    Sometimes I take great pleasure in completely ignoring snowflake email--save it in the "students" file and forget about it. This would be one of them.

    Or, if you must answer: "Unfortunately, this won't be possible."

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  8. I once had a father write asking me to forgive his son's plagiarism because that's what Jesus would have done. I didn't.

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    1. Jesus wasn't stuck reading the damn essay.

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    2. How many like buttons can be attached to CrayonEater's post?

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    3. I don't know, but add mine, please.

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  9. God does, but I don't. And that's the difference between God and me. - I think that's an old Lyle Lovett song.

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    1. "God Forgives, I Don't" was the title this movie had where I grew up:

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061576/

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    2. SB, it is indeed an old Lyle Lovett song!

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    3. I DO forgive your poor little woobie. But he still gets an F, because he still plagiarized his paper.

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  10. Plagiarizing is bad. I don't think wishing you a blessed day makes it any worse. Would you get bent out of shape if she said, "I hope you have a really great day!", which is pretty much the same thing, sans the religious aspects.

    Most student emails ask for unreasonable things so it's not surprising that student emails that end with some religious blessing might also ask for unreasonable things. Hoping you will have a blessed day may in fact not be a statement seeped in spiritual meaning that you infer. Or maybe it is. I'm not familiar enough with the Bible to know what Jesus would have done. Certainly he would have forgiven her though he may not have let her offense go without its deserved Earthly penalty. As Sarcastic Bastard says, you're not Jesus so you don't really have to worry about that.

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    1. Yeah, I think I agree with you, Ben. It may just be the tone that's irritating, in a sort of Eddie Haskell-ish way.

      I have a (HS) student who is distracted and distracting during class, often blurting OVER me while I'm talking and constantly trying to hijack the discussion with irrelevant personal anecdotes. He's also the kind of student we describe as "slimy": smart enough to behave in school and around adults, but sketchy and unethical everywhere else.

      At the end of every class (and we meet daily, so I mean Every. Single. Class.) on his way out he turns to me, smiles, and says "Thank you! Have a great day!" Every time it happens, I feel icky and manipulated. Except that he's a callow teenager who is about as good at manipulation as he is at taking tests, so it's more the ickiness of someone *trying* to manipulate you and thinking he's getting away with it.

      Also, I am agnostic, but was raised in a religion in which only the clergy had the authority to "bless" anything, so it may also be that the idea of a layperson offering me "blessings" just sounds odd and a bit presumptuous to my ears.

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    2. Surly, I started replying to this and then realized that it's worth a whole post, so I'm going to quote you at length in a new post.

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  11. Perhaps it could be argued that if whatever deity Petunia claimed allegiance to didn't want her to cheat, he/she/it wouldn't have given her the ability to do so.

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  12. I'm on a faith-based campus and hear this crap all the time. "You're supposed be more forgiving if you're a real Christian," or "Jesus showed compassion. Why don't you?" And it's always some asshole who has just sinned so deeply and irrevocably that even Jesus would drop-kick his sorry ass into hell. What's worse is having a self-righteous colleague who spouts scripture and claims to be holy, yet is the laziest SOB of all. But that's a post for another time.

    For the record, I have never encountered as much academic dishonesty as I have on this 'religious' campus (and yes, I've taught elsewhere).

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    1. That reminds me of the quote from the movie "Red River", which is found at:

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040724/quotes?qt=qt0118988

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  13. I can easily think of a response to this:

    "Isn't it considered naughty for scientists to play god? My grandfather Viktor came to think so, back when the family still spelled it 'Frankenstein'"


    Another response could be:

    "There is no God but ALLAH, and MOHAMMED is his prophet!"

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    1. Holy ****, Frod, do you know how thoroughly fired I would be if I said the latter? :-)

      One of my survey courses covers the emergence of Islam. Since it's an online class, I get to see EVERYONE's thoughts about Islam in the discussion thread. I am an adjunct on a term-by-term contract, so, as much as it sickens me to have to do so, I must tread very carefully when correcting their idiotic statements about Muslims.

      I usually limit myself to pointing out that Muhammad's Allah was the same god as Jesus' god, and that Muhammad respected Jesus as a prophet. There are always one or two students who flatly disagree with this. I never know quite what to say to them, so I just quietly point them to some sources.

      This past term, I politely corrected a student who called Islam a "violent religion." Naturally, I had to pay for my offense. She later claimed that I had given her low grades on her essays in retaliation for her comment, which she maintained had been correct.

      So for people who don't think tenure or the status of adjuncts matters to higher education, I present to you the parade of fucktards who, in the words of Randy Newman slandering LSU "went in dumb, came out dumb, too."

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    2. First Lyle Lovett, now Randy Newman! Who told the CM-ers the names of my favourite songsters?

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  14. Count me as another practicing Christian who finds this expression very irritating (even though I'm pretty sure that, in the places it is common, it is overused to the point of being basically meaningless, at least when it isn't passive-aggressive; as I understand it, the usage in Peter K's comment -- "bless her heart" as a put-down if not an outright insult -- is pretty common in some parts of the south, and has been for some time). At least in my mind, I think it's tied in with the whole "prosperity gospel" thing, which in turn ties back to some of the Puritan's worst ideas: that those who are doing well (financially and/or in other ways) are showing outward signs of having, and deserving, more of God's favor than those who are having a harder time. Either all our days -- the apparently good (which is what "blessed" seems to be standing in for in the expression), the apparently bad, and all the ones in between -- are in God's keeping, or they aren't. Singling out the "better" ones -- or the more fortunate people -- as "blessed" strikes this particular child of the Calvinist tradition as something close to heresy.

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  15. This post makes me immeasurably glad to be spared this born-again BS over here. Keeping one's religion to oneself as best as possible needs to be instated as some kind of golden rule of interpersonal contact.

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