Friday, February 21, 2014

Contemplative Cynic writes in the grandest style of literature - a top ten list

How to Make Contemplative Cynic Grind Her Teeth

10. "Are we going to be tested on this?"
Only asked when students are asked to write something down.

9. Similarly: "Can you tell us what's going to be on the test?"
You do know what a test is for, right? If I tell you what's going to be on it, it's no longer a test. However, everything we have covered so far is up for grabs.

8. And accompanying that: "Are you going to give us a study guide?"
Yes: it's called the TOC and your notes.

7. "I don't know. It was just really confusing" seems to be used when students didn't read clearly and think that this phrase now means they are excused from understanding what they were supposed to have grasped.

6. "When are you going to be in your office?" means they basically want to contest a grade or give an excuse in person but will likely never show up if it means expending effort.

5. "Do you have a stapler?" No explanation needed.

4. "Do we have to write this down?" Why are you asking this? It's college.

3. "Oh, is that due today?" or  "You didn't tell us that was due today." RTFS.

2. "I always got A's in high school." No you didn't.

1. "Can we get extra credit for [insert inane nonsensical behavior that has nothing to do with learning or the course]?" Grrrrrrr.

Contemplative Cynic


  1. Q. What are we doing in class today/tomorrow/this morning/this afternoon ?
    A. What is your real question?

  2. The question that makes me crazy is "How would you ask this on the test?" I will probably type it out in the form of a question. Does that help?

    During one of my open study times, a student had been asking questions for about three hours. Just before he left he said he had one more question: "Is there anything I haven't asked today that you think I should have?" I was speechless.

  3. With a 10 for 10 familiarity score, this list makes me very sad.

    Sadder still, my recent experience of this list on steroids -- a student so consumer empowered that all these questions were posed on hir behalf through the Snowflake Handholding and Inflation Team office.

    1. Perhaps you meant to write Orifice for that last word.

  4. STAPLES?!?! (Twitch! Twitch!)

    A snappy comeback for number 7 ("I don't know. It was just really confusing") is "How do you think a real boss in the real world is going to respond to that?"

    And as far is number 8 (a study guide) goes: I do give them a study guide. It's a list of readings to do before the exam. A generation ago, it was called a syllabus: it's less than one page long. I make sure to print the words "STUDY GUIDE" prominently at the top, and much of the time, this works, in that they stop whining to be given a study guide.

  5. Yup. It sounds a lot like what I heard during the years I was teaching.

    Other entries for the list could be comments such as "I'm doing well in all of my courses except yours" (yeah, right) or "Are these grades going to put on a curve?" (No. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.) Then there are those wiseacres who *add* stuff to their exams after I marked and returned them, and then claimed that I "missed" it. I didn't bother disputing that because it wouldn't have been worth the effort, thanks to the Snowflake Handholding and Inflation Twits at our institution.

    1. This is why I photocopy everything before I hand it back. (Of course, thanks to the Division of Snowflake Handholding and Grade Inflation, the question then becomes, "but did Suzie Snowflake really *understand* that she wasn't supposed to do that?")

  6. All of these plus, "I won't be in class on XXXday. Are you going to cover anything important?" Answer "No." Sadly, they rarely pick up on my sarcasm

    1. I really like this question. It's even more absurd because my class is projects. They KNOW what we will be doing the next class and STILL ask that question.

  7. "Do you have an extra credit project I could do?" (after not bothering to do an assigned project.)

    "No. Why should I do extra work because you chose not to?"

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. "But the (insert applicable administrator's title) said I could get one. It's not fair!"

  8. How about this one: "Dr. Vertical is a meanie. His exam questions are about stuff I don't know the answers to." Never mind that we covered the material in the lectures and I took questions from old exams. Copies of those exams were on reserve in the library and I informed the students about it, giving them permission to make copies and go through them. Most of the quizzes I gave were old exam questions.

  9. (As background, my tests are open note). My favorite question on test days is "But I was absent that day and don't have those notes! Can I skip these questions?" My second-favorite questions is "But I was absent that day and don't have those notes! Can I borrow someone else's notes?"

    My response to the 2nd question is along the lines "Why didn't you borrow someone else's notes BEFORE the day of the test?"


  10. While I was teaching, I would sometimes have a conversation like this:

    "Dr. Vertical, you're a terrible teacher."

    "Oh? Why's that?"

    "I didn't get as high a grade on my exam as I expected to. I figured I should get at least xxx% and I got less than that."

    "Did you study for it? Was there anything you had problems with before the exam and, if so, did you come to me about it?"

    "I don't have to. I don't need to study. I always get at least xxx% on all my exams, even while I was in high school."

    (Thinking to myself) "You ain't in high school now, kid."

    Needless to say, I'd pay for it. If I was lucky, all I got was a bunch of nasty comments in my evaluations.

    1. One of the great pleasures of tenure is the ability to say, "You ain't in high school now, kid." They may whine, and the high-ups may whine, but I still get paid at the end of the month.

    2. I once had a group of intellectual ne'er-do-wells in a service course who were close to being completely shiftless. One twit demanded that I tell him what was on the mid-term exam because he didn't want to study the "wrong" material. Of course, telling him that everything we covered to the cut-off point was fair game wasn't good enough.

      Sure enough, I paid for it. The mid-term came and went, the class did badly (which I expected), and the whole mess resulted in a meeting with the students and the department head. The DH threw me to the wolves because he was close to retiring and didn't want any hassles, while my DH found out about it and wanted to have me skinned. I cancelled the mid-term results and give those boneheads a take-home exam instead.

      Of course, they all did *very* well (average over 90%). I set it up that way to not only redeem myself but to indirectly show that the students actually were as useless as I thought. The only way they could get that high was to "collaborate" (i. e., cheat like the dickens) and anybody with any sense would have seen it.

      I sent a follow-up memo to my DH in which I mockingly ate crow, claiming that I had seriously underestimated the academic "capabilities" of that class. For some reason, he wasn't amused....