Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Teachers' Dirty Looks

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teachers' dirty looks

Do you know why teachers have dirty looks? Because students are annoying and dumb.

Ok, ok, not all of them. But a lot of them. And freaking lazy. No wonder there are so many people in the working world who are unqualified, can't write a complete sentence let alone appropriate comma usage and no wonder there are so many fat people. Because once you realize that you really can coast by with laziness and still end up in the average or above average segments, why even bother trying to realize your full potential?

I gave a test a couple weeks ago. When I asked if there were any questions about the test, one student asked me how hard it was and another asked if I really expected them to read the loooong chapters they were being tested on. I told them if they studied, they should do fine, but if they didn't want to read the book, they could just study their notes and see how well it works for them when they get their grades back. Ha.

I think some of them took me up on that. The highest grade in the class was a 90, meaning that student missed 5 questions. The average was a C. I immediately felt guilty and blamed myself because, after all, it's my responsibility to teach them before they can begin to learn anything. I apologized to the students, facilitated an open discussion about the test and ended up giving the highest curve since curves were invented. Only to hear yesterday from one of the students that the majority of the class didn't actually read the book as instructed. Shocking.

Oh but the whining doesn't end there. Students turn in assignments late because they "had trouble with it" and assume that's a valid excuse to save them from any penalties. I had two students scheduled to give presentations yesterday that didn't show up at all. Of course, at the end of the day, one of them emailed to tell me he's had the flu for days and beg me to let him make it up because he's trying to graduate in the spring. Not trying that hard, I can tell you.

They're not just lazy about school, they're lazy about the real world too. One of my colleagues told me a funny story about a stupid comment someone had about his test (they all bombed too). My friend included an "application question," meaning a question that requires you to apply a concept or identify which concept has been applied. Simple enough. They have lots of those on the SAT so surely this is not their first encounter with them. My friend's student told him that it was unfair of him to put that particular application question on the test because he hadn't used that specific example in class. He told her that the point of an application question was to test if they understand the concept, not how well they can memorize their notes.

Another great "I'm too lazy for the real world" example. I decided, being the darling that I am, to give them an extra credit question on the exam. I thought I'd be nice and give something so easy that everyone would get it. I even made a bet with a friend that five or less out of the 40 students would miss the question. Uh...yeah...I was wrong. 14 out of 40. 14 out of 40, get this, could not name one presidential candidate in each of the two major parties. Wha-huh? Yes, that's right! These idiots vote! And they serve on juries, by the way. Oh the future's so...not bright.

I don't even know if it's laziness as much as apathy. Yet as graduate assistants, we depend on those student evaluations so immensely that we're encouraged to practice grade inflation. Hence, my steep ass curve. What we're teaching these students, in my opinion, is that they can get by or even soar with flying colors by doing a minimal amount of work. And once they've learned that lesson fully, we're shipping them off to your offices, my dear friends, to ask you stupid questions like, "Do you really expect me to write that proposal today? But it's so loooong!" and "I had trouble with that powerpoint. It's haaaard! And then I had to leave because it was 5:00 and I had plans."

Make sure your business is stocked with Kleenex for all the sorry tears they'll cry.


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