Monday, March 1, 2010

Student! Why?

Oh, my Student! I know that you're having personal problems of an entirely legitimate nature. We met to discuss them. And I know that you are now supposed to be all better, and yet you continue to miss classes. Student, you have now missed eight classes, and according to the policy stated on my syllabus, that entitles you to an automatic F.

Student, you have also failed to turn in any of the four papers that have been due in the course. Remember that alternate schedule we came up with, Student? Remember how you said you were already working on one of the (two-page) assignments? Well, Student, I have read neither hide nor hair of you. What's happening?

I emailed you, O Student, recommending that you withdraw from the class. To me, this seems obvious. You will get an F, no matter what, unless you withdraw. You must be clear on this, O my poor beset Student! For I know you from before, and you're pretty sharp. In fact, you're not only sharp, but interesting, and have a mean sense of unconventional style. You are intriguingly arty, O Student, and let it be known that I do in fact really like you.

But Student! Why, given that I emailed you with the inevitable outcome, and that you have read your email (for lo, I can check these things), why did you come to class today? Are we going to draw this out into a protracted negotiation that will only end in misery, despair, and/or the breaking of my perfectly reasonable policy?

Why, Student? Why can't we all just accept the world the way it is?

And why do I seem to have one of you every single semester???


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Notorious Ph.D. said...

Document, document, document. My close friend in the department had a similar experience, and it ended up ugly.

Prof. Koshary said...

Can't say it any better than Notorious did. I find that I'm most unsettled by the students who go off the rails, yet seem pleasant and friendly in our interpersonal interactions. This kind tends to believe stubbornly that they can get away with murder, if the professor takes them as a pet. Much easier to deal with a failing student who's also sullen and disaffected!

My personal sympathies cannot impinge upon the rules I set forth in my syllabi -- partly because, as I have discovered, some of these students are actually sociopaths who can invent sob stories from whole cloth. I could tell you a saga from last year that would curl your hair. The thing that saved my bacon was an absolute ton of documentation: every email, every note, all carefully maintained to create a devastating dossier of damaging details.

Ahem. Sorry, I turn alliterative when I'm trying to press a point.

Fretful Porpentine said...

You only have one of those students every semester? Lucky you! (I think you've just described half the theater department at my school, and I teach the Shakespeare course they're all required to take, so ... yeah. Art-flake city.)

heu mihi said...

Theater! Aha! Fretful takes the cake! This is indeed a theater student (of the backstage/design variety).

I actually know that one of the major problems she's facing is real, and is major. It breaks my heart, actually. So that's bad.

But the weirdness of it all is that she just started showing up again--and yet seems to be avoiding me (coming in right at the start of class and racing out at the end). She doesn't speak in class and still hasn't turned in any work, and hasn't said word one to me in about three weeks.... It's all very bizarre.

But yeah, I'm keeping our emails. Even though I don't see what quarrel she could possibly drum up against an F at this point. (Ahem, NO PAPERS??)

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