Saturday, June 1, 2013

Because Professors Get a Raise Every Time their Student Fails, Amirite?

I may have mentioned this anecdote before, probably because the logic and convoluted rationale behind such a conclusion still manages to baffle me whenever I think about it. Which I do more and more often these days, surrounded by summer students who think that:

I) they are doing ME a favour by spending their summer within echoing, freshly-painted halls

II) they are entitled to an A because they are spending their precious summer indoors, the martyrs

III) they hold some type of power over Yours Truly because they CHOSE me instead of Professor X who also teaches the same course

IV) Therefore, I should be exceedingly flattered to be gifted with their presence

V) Thus I cannot conceivably give them anything but an A out of pure, unadulterated gratitude.

The scene about to unfold did not, however, take place during the summer, although the labyrinthine assumptions are remarkably similar. It was early into the fall semester, the leaves curling at the edges, the warm, pumpkinesque colours only just beginning to appear. I was a TA back then, a TA who thought hirself part of the campus student body (I wasn't THAT much older than them) and expected hirself to sympathize with their problems. This conversation marked the turning point in that expectation; I realized I couldn't possibly hang with such minds, not only because I didn't agree one whit with their inner workings, but also because I couldn't for the life of me figure them out.

Uncertain but Studious Ursula: So I have Dr. Silverback for upper-level MESTology and we just had our first test. I'm so, like, worried.

Self-assured Sandra: You have Dr. Silverback? You're sooo screwed.

Uncertain Ursula: OMG NOOOOO WTH?

Self-assured Sandra: If he hates you he'll give you an F. He only gives you an A if he likes you.

Uncertain Ursula: OMG, Noter, we have to make him like us now.

OnlySlightlyBallisticNoter [mildly]: Dr. Silverback is so helpful, though. Have you had him before?

Self-assured Sandra: Trust me. I had him last semester and he gave me an F.


  1. I taught summer school once. Never again!

  2. VI} You have to give all of them top marks as compensation for interrupting their lives and disrupting what's of great importance to them (e. g., texting or yakking with each other) by expecting them to remain quiet and pay attention while you try to teach them something.

  3. I did one Summer session. Awful! Never again!

  4. VII) Should you attempt to cover a regular semester's worth of material in the shortened space of a summer session (you know, do what university policy requires, and what you warned students in a welcome/warning letter sent well in advance of the summer session that you would do), you are violating the implied summer consumer (er, student)/professor contract that summer classes will be an easy and fun way of fulfilling an otherwise-onerous requirement, and probably whichever article of the US Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment as well.

    I would love to stop teaching summer classes (for all of the above reasons, plus the fact that I actually like my research, and would like to spend some more time with it), but at this point, they're an economic necessity (to the point where the fact that they're not guaranteed scares me. Fortunately, plenty of students fail or put off the onerous requirement which my most-frequently-taught course fulfills. As long as I get the sections, there's no question that they will fill,and re-fill after I've scared a few prospective students off).

  5. I taught summer, on-line, to mostly non-trads. It was suppose to be 'discussion-based, writing-intensive, and critical thinking.' Never, ever again will I subject myself to such hostile students.

  6. I hate summer school too. You tell them it is the same course, but instead of 3 hours of class a week, there's 6 hours of class a week. The course is covered in 6 weeks, not 12. Is everyone clear on that?
    * everyone nods. everyone understands. everyone knows the deal. *
    After the 1st midterm, and the C to C+ average, same as during the regular terms, the complaints start pouring in.
    "You're going too fast!" "You cover so much material in a week!" And my favourite: "I thought this would be easier during the summer!"
    Piss on that.

  7. It is not the 110 degrees outside that makes summer school hell. It is getting continually (pitch)forked over by admini-fiends and the little demons in the classroom.

    In a fit of winter holiday magnanimity I had volunteered to teach our entry-level sophomore course in the summer (to help CC transfers and fall course retreads fulfill fall junior course pre-reqs.

    My Unit head said my previous summer course evals showed I was too mean to teach soph flakes (not to mention horrible). The evals were from a class where I nailed 20 out of 28 for academic integrity violation, but I guess it was mean of me to hold them accountable.

  8. Some courses work well in summer (I'm thinking languages). Others suck ("Read 'The Faerie Queen' over the weekend.")

  9. Don't forget that "they pay your salary" so you should give them an A.

    I get this crap all year round, honestly. Likely because I teach in a professional program where we have the exact same set of students year-round.


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