Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Randomness....

It's that time of the year again.

No, I don't mean the holidays when you travel hither and yond, visiting relatives, praying that the airport isn't snowed in -- or covered in a thick fog -- smiling as you thank Aunt Eunice for the lovely sweater she knitted using her dog's fur.

I mean the post-semester complaints from students.

All the papers have been graded -- some of which were schlepped to England, and graded on trains and planes. The course grades have been posted. You'd think that my job is now done and I'd settled into a long, well-deserved nap on the Winter Solstice.

No such luck.

The grades hadn't been posted for more than few hours and the emails began.

"Why did I get a 'D'?" Hmmm. Could it be that you didn't do all the homework and tanked on the final exam? Thought so. And no, I don't give extra credit after the semester is over because I don't feel like spending any of my precious vacation time reading the crap you were too lazy to do when you had the chance the first time.

"Can I turn in some of the homework assignments now, to raise my grade?" At one time, a long time ago, when I first started teaching, I was a soft touch. A real softy. Okay, not so such of a marshmellow that I'd let students turn in their essays in yellow ink, but I'd listen to their sob stories and give them the benefit of the doubt. Since then, the department has gotten a little tougher on students because we've seen a kid go through chemotherapy in the morning, show up for class in the afternoon, and still get his work in on time. I know that most students don't have quite that force of character, but still -- not being able to do the work that was assigned, on time, because you have other priorities doesn't make it my problem. As someone once said, A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

"Is there any way I can talk you into raising my grade?" I kid you not, I once had a student tell me that she really enjoyed my course, learned a lot, and earned the grade she got, but could I change her grade so that she would have the minimum GPA to join her preferred sorority. Uh, no. If your GPA is too low to join a House, then it's too low, period. Not to bash too heavily on the Greek system -- some of my better students have been members, but some of my less than stellar students have been too -- but I've gotten reports from two different sources that one House objected to a requirement that the memebers fullfil a minimum study time of 4 hours per week. Seems it would cut into their "social time". You want me to raise your grade, out of the goodness of my heart, so that you can join a House that might cause you to go completely off your academic rails?!

I don't think it's too much to ask that, just once, I could relax on a cold -- well, cold for a California coastal town -- winter night with my Love, drink hot cocoa, and let the worries of the past semester fall away, without students electronically jumping up and down, demanding a better grade. It makes me feel like an academic Scrooge.

To those of you in the 'real' world, I wish you Happy Holidays; to my fellow academics, try to have a quiet, student-complaint free vacation; to my students, take the holidays to breathe, assess your priorities, and prepare for the upcoming semester. If you still feel the need to discuss your grade, I'll be in my office starting the 2nd of January.

Until then, could I please have some quiet here?

1 comment:

nonny mouse said...

Aunt Eunice knitted you the sweater from her cat's fur. Aunt Gertrude was the one who crocheted those spiffy ski socks from her dog's fur. Sheesh, no wonder the thank you cards are always such a mess.