17 July 2006

And we have a review!

"A must read for anyone who has ever attended college, talked to a professor, or otherwise suspected that our instructors are not necessarily as benevolent as they seem, here is History Is Hell."

While my students have occasionally (and erroniously) referred to me as 'benevolent,' I always suspected that it was in the vein of Vizzini from The Princess Bride. You know. "You keep saying that word, I do not think it means what you think it means." [And here we pause for some fangirl happiness. Mmmm.]

Yes, there are times when I'm willing to cut a little slack. "Aw, you're PMSing really bad *and* your favorite cucumber patch has blight? Okay, three day extension."
But there are times when I'm not. "So this is the fifth grandmother that's died this year, right?"

Basically, here's the deal. Here's the Dirty Little Secret, part 2.

Professors.
[looks around]
Are.
[drops into a conspiratorial whisper]
People.

No, you idiot. Not like Soylent Green is people. ...Okay, thinking on some of my co-workers, kinda like Soylent Green is people. I digress.

I teach a social science, soft science, whatever you want to call it. If I don't take the chicken shit route and base my student's grades on rote memorization of dates and events, then whatever I have to grade on is subjective. Sorry. That's the way of the world. However, I am preparing them for the cruel, hard world of peer reviews, employee reviews, middle management with an IQ of a very inbred ferret, and dealing with the public in general.

C'mon. Why should *I* have all the fun of being based on a subjective standard. Share the love, I say!

So yes. If I am having a shitty day, your paper may get marked down. Thankfully, my shitty days are usually 24-hour shots, and I will go back and reread to see if that "D" I gave was appropriate for the quality presented. Another tip. If you email me or call me or drop in for my office hours and you're immediately aggressive to me, it really makes me want to grab the nearest fire axe and bury it in your developing noggin. I understand that constructive criticism can sound so horribly mean at times, but I'm actually writing it so you can do better and get a higher grade. Not because I want to see if I can make you cry. If that was my intent, I'd make you come up and pick up your papers during office hours and then I'd go over them with you.

...I'm tangenting again.

Let's rewind and use bullet points, shall we?

Students, here are some vitally important lessons.
  • You do pay tuition, but you do not pay my salary. If you, as an individual, don't sign up for my class, my pay rate doesn't go down. Get over the little power play you think that will create.
  • There is no discernable difference between a 92% and a 99%. Both register as "A's," and when I enter grades, there is no percentage value that the university accepts. It's a letter grade. Perfectionists be warned.
  • Similarly, some professors just do not give out perfect scores, or if they do, it is a rarity. Here's the reason: the grade is based on mastery of the topic, not regurgitation. Insight is key.
  • Personal responsibility goes a LONG way. If you've fucked up, missed the deadline because you didn't write it down, decided that things were more important than school... It happens. Take responsibility for it. Now, I'm not saying that you should be Washingtonian in your admission, but don't blame it on someone else. Ever.
    • As a female that is out in the dating pool, this rule also applies to you boys out there that happen to be adults. Maturity is a good thing. Use it.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. If you have been one of the lucky ones to be granted an extension, don't squander it. If you think you're going to blow the extension, for the love of all that is Heinleinean, talk to your professor. Don't tell me that your son died trying to swallow the family hamster, just tell me that you have a family crisis, or a death in the immediate family. I don't need details, but I do need you to keep talking to me. I am not a mindreader.
    • Conversely, do not assume that I care about the little things in your life. I am not your friend, though we may become friends after you graduate. I am your instructor, possibly your mentor, but while you are attending the school that pays my wages, we are not peers. No matter how close your extended family is, I don't care about what happened to your fourth cousin, twice-removed and how Buffy is all upset and has been calling you day and night. That's your shit. Deal.
  • Do not assume that college is like high school. Do not assume that you don't have to learn new skills to keep up with your classload. Look into helpful books, like What Smart Students Know. Also, if you have an LD like dyslexia or ADHD, inform yourself as to methods that help you retain information and better your study habits.
    • Also, for those with LDs, take advantage of your school's ADA-required assistance. It is a resource and one that those with any type of LD, even ones that you consider 'minor,' can work to their advantage.
I'm sure at some point I will go back and re-edit this into a cohesive expression of thought. But until then...

Class dismissed.

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