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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A letter to my student who can't be bothered

Dear [Student],

I'm not sure whether it has come to your attention that you are failing my class. This is something that you might have realized if you had ever bothered to collect your midterm (on which you got a 39%--with the curve); if you had taken a moment to calculate your quiz average (which is about a 4 out of 10); or if it had occured to you that, in reading your latest paper, I might notice that you had obviously never read the text that you purported to analyze--and that, moreover, your entire essay appeared to have been written in 20 minutes.

I'm wondering whether you remember that ass-whipping I gave you in February, when you turned in your first paper six days late and casually announced that you were taking your free extension for that paper. Do you remember that you got a 54 on that essay, that you learned to address me as "Doctor" or "Professor" rather than by my first name, and that you pledged you would "turn things around" for the rest of the semester?

Maybe you do, because you DO now speak in class, and quite a lot--but only when you're IN class, which is approximately every third class meeting. And it's also true that, after that first paper, you have turned all your assignments in on time. However, had you been in class today, you would have discovered that your on-time essay still merited an F.

Maybe you're taking this class credit/fail, or maybe you're figuring that no one ever gets a grade lower than a C in an English class. I assure you, however, that I have given students far more conscientious than you a D as a course grade. I will not regret failing you for the semester.

This is what I WILL regret: that I won't be at Big Urban long enough to develop a reputation sufficient to keep assholes like you out of my classes.


link | posted by La Lecturess at 10:34 PM |


Blogger StyleyGeek commented at 6:27 AM~  

Why is it that it's the students who are failing most miserably that never collect their work? I have about six assignments, averaging in the low 30s, sitting in my filing cabinet, most of which are from at least four weeks back.

Some of these students are failing because they don't come to class, presumably, and others are probably too scared to come collect an assignment they know they did badly on. I guess they hope if they ignore it it might go away.

But you'd think some of them might care enough to find out whether they are failing the course. Wouldn't you? I don't understand how they can bear not to know.

Blogger timna commented at 9:57 AM~  

I have two students who haven't picked up their work in the *online* class. That would just involve opening a file. How could they go on and write the next paper? Of course, it is, as you say, the worst students.

Blogger blithering moron commented at 10:03 AM~  

he's on the two semester plan :)

Blogger sp commented at 12:08 PM~  

Sigh, don't you wish you could actually send that letter? I hate those students, too. And I get one every class, every quarter. Why?

Blogger Vance Maverick commented at 12:41 PM~  

Styley, I don't think there's any mystery -- if they cared even a little, they wouldn't be failing outright. I think it's pretty rare to fail (truly fail, at the level Lecturess describes) through mere incapacity.

Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. commented at 1:33 PM~  

I've had several such students, failed them without remorse (but without *obvious* relish)--in my experience, the indifference is usually a side effect of the ingestion of large quantities of THC. I had one student in for a "conference"--and by "conference" I mean the same kind of "conference" a moth has to a light-bulb--he just stared and nodded like I was so totally amazing, not really understanding a word--which was hardly surprising, since my thought upon his entrance was that he'd actually *bathed* in bong water. Some minds are not a terrible thing to waste...

Blogger Tabitha Grimalkin commented at 4:40 PM~  

Great letter!! I've got a few students who I would love to write a letter like this to as well. Don't you wish you could send it?

Blogger Jeffrey commented at 9:33 AM~  

Poor students aren't assholes. They may be uninterested or busy, addicted to drugs, or depressed and apathetic, but that doesn't make them bad people. Neither does failing to use the honorific. I encourage my students to use my first name, although they're free to do the Dr. thing if it's more comfortable for them. You shouldn't take student disinterest so personally; it will eventually lead you to hate your job. Just remember that students take courses for many different reasons that have nothing to do with you, and try to reach the ones you can. Slackers intend no personal affront. (This is coming from a former undergrad slacker and current prof teaching a 4-4 to a very mixed student body.)

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 9:52 AM~  


Your points are well taken, although, really, I don't take this personally. I have a number of students who are doing poorly or slacking off; some contact me to talk about it or explain or apologize, and that's great, but I don't expect it; I understand the pressures some of them are under or the fact that they have other priorities. This kid, however, is really in a class all by himself.

Blogger Dorcasina commented at 10:06 AM~  

Let's just hope he doesn't morph into one of those students who's willing to invest any amount of energy *after the fact* in the futile hope that you will somehow, retroactively, decide that really he should have gotten a C-plus. That's when I really lose it--when someone who ignores my questions, concern, and offers of help all term then decides to mount a pitched campaign of emailing, filing grievances, and generally making life miserable after the final grades are in.

I've gotten pretty good at not taking disinterest personally, but I do hate it when they are disinterested in the course, in the work, and in doing well...and then develop an obsessive interest in objecting to the grade.

Blogger Mamacita commented at 12:29 AM~  

I am having this same problem. Students who have been to class all of three times are wanting to know what they need to do to pass. It boggles the mind. And you would not BELIEVE the emails I am getting.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 11:02 PM~  

You Profs are cold as Ice. Does it ever occur to you that maybe students are intimidated or afraid to discuss issues with a professor. These kinds of comments are the reason why I elected to avoid a life in academia.

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