Sunday, October 19, 2008

Telling It Like It Is

I have started being extremely frank and direct when my students email me questions that I deem to be over-the-top.

Earlier this semester, I sent a snarky response to a student who couldn't figure out when the exam was -- despite the date (and time and location) being on the class calendar, the review sheet, the PDFs of the PowerPoint slides from the previous two lectures, the worksheet that the TAs handed out the previous week, and in an announcement on Blackboard. (All consistently said the exact same thing.) I pointed out all the places with the information about the exam and told the student that college students should be able to figure this sort of thing out without help from someone else.

And now I just responded to an email from the smart kid who doesn't come to class on Fridays wanting to know if he could turn the homework in late with no penalty because he was having lunch with someone important on campus (my class is at 10am). I said no and told him that I was saying no because he never comes to class on Fridays. If you're smart enough to not come to class, you should be smart enough to figure out how to get your work turned in.

You just wait until the next calculus student comes to my office and pulls out a homework assignment that is symbol-for-symbol, character-for-character exactly the same as the solutions on the textbook author's webpage. I will be sure to tell the student why he or she is failing despite "doing all the homework."

I'm becoming more and more convinced that the reason why so many majors are requiring my calculus class is because if you aren't with-it enough to pass this class, no one wants to hire you at a real job.