Thursday, October 25, 2007


Still here. Not dead. Have finished the grading, except for late papers and the optional extra-credit revisions from the freshman comp students. Have also sent off fifteen job applications; am trying to work up the motivation to do a few more tonight.

More random things I ponder:

-- Why is it that all grade complaints seem to come from people who are getting some flavor of B, and the most vociferous ones come from people with a B+?

-- Why do all job ads that make extraordinary demands (all course evaluations from the past five years, video of your teaching, undergraduate transcripts, essay about super-specific topic) seem to come from tiny little colleges out in the middle of nowhere?

-- What's up with students who show up for fewer than half of the classes? I can understand skipping a class every now and again, but it seems only prudent to show up most of the time and not disappear for weeks on end. In particular, what's up with students who don't show up on the day papers are due?

I had one last year who attended a grand total of five classes all semester, but at least he wrote all the papers and showed up on the last day of classes to do his final presentation. (He was clearly talking out of his ass during the whole presentation, but somehow he did manage to scrape a B on the final and a passing grade in the class -- which annoyed the heck out of me.) Hmm, maybe they're all thinking they'll be that lucky.

-- Why don't I have any winter clothes suitable for teaching? Winter comes every year. I really should have figured this out by now.


Sisyphus said...

I _so_ hear you on the middle-of-nowhere schools wanting the craziest job apps! Who the hell could figure out anything from my undergrad transcripts, I want to know? Doesn't that punish the people who turned their shit around in/after school?

Renaissance Girl said...

The answer to all these questions (except maybe the one about students skipping a ridiculous number of class sessions) might be "insecurity." That's certainly true of the middle-of-nowhere schools: trying to show applicants that they are NOT TO BE TRIFLED WITH just because they're not Big City Research U. The B+ kids are, I think, conscious of being ALMOST great. (Jerry Seinfeld says that the silver medalist at the Olympics is the very best loser of all the losers.) The clothes: well, maybe I'm projecting on that one. Fabulous winter clothes would require me to shop, which would require me to try stuff on, and frankly I'd rather wear shorts than do that.

heu mihi said...

See, this is why I have semi-strict attendance policies: so that they CAN'T scrape by with a passing grade, thereby irritating the hell out of me, if they never show up. You get three unexcused absences, basically, and then the grade starts to click on down.

Admittedly, I do feel a little funny about my policy: if one can write brilliant papers, who cares if one turns up to class? On the other hand, lit classes typically rely on a lot of participation, so when good students don't show, it's potentially hurting everyone's learning opportunities--not just their own.

Right? Or am I just a bitch?

Fretful Porpentine said...

Sisyphus -- I haven't a clue (although I will say that all the schools that have ever asked for undergrad transcripts were state schools, so it may be some sort of one-size-fits-all bureaucratic requirement.)

Renaissance Girl -- I like that theory! Actually, I think the reason why I don't have any teaching clothes is that I don't really understand clothes, so I'm always afraid to buy something in case it turns out to be ten years out of style, or really a party dress, or something.

Heu mihi -- Yeah, I hear what you're saying, but on the other hand, if they don't want to be in class, I don't particularly want them there either. So it works out.

Anonymous said...

Fretful Porpentine: I think I do understand your answer to "Heu mihi", but I do have problems with it:

If you class is lecture series like thing: o.k..

But if your class is a seminar or something like this: a seminar IMO is a course that is a collaborative effort to find out something that is new both to the teacher and the students by studying and discussing a text, or a set of texts, or a phenomenon, or a question, or something else, students and teacher together. So who does not show up often enough does not take part enough in this collaborative effort.
So I insist that people show up regularily and participate actively on a regular basis. If they miss the course to often or if they turn up and stay tacit: according to my book: they fail. (Yes, they are warned about this. Yes, I have refused to accept a written paper by someone who didn't show up reagularily and/or remained tacit for (quasi) all of the seminar.)

This difference of views might perhaps be due to differences in local customs.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Oh, I see your point, and that's precisely why I do require attendance in my comp classes, which involve a lot of workshopping and collaboration. The literature classes are different, though -- mostly class discussion -- and if a student hasn't done the reading and doesn't want to be there, I'd just as soon have them not be there, since they aren't going to contribute anything useful to the conversation anyway. (They are graded on participation, but not on attendance.)