Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Go Ahead, Prove Me Wrong

These days my inbox is filling up with pleas from students who have failed math -- often multiple times -- who are begging and pleading for me to allow them to take the next course in the sequence in the spring.

This is easy when the student has been failing calculus and needs to take calculus-based statistics. I tell the student to call the statistics department and to see what they say. The math department doesn't care. Of course the university still expects the student to pass two courses on "the list" -- but the stats class is on "the list," so everything may work out OK. In any event, it's easy to let someone else be the bad guy.

I'm giving out my quota of meanness when dealing with the students who have failed college algebra and who want to move on to calculus. My answer being "no." My answer being an even steadier and unquestioned "no" when the student has failed algebra multiple times and has scored consistently low grades on all the exams during the most recent attempt. You knew you had to pass algebra to continue on to calculus. If this is the best you can do, well, it's possible that your best just isn't good enough.

But you know, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe our algebra class is horrid and unfair. Go ahead, take the CLEP. That will show us.