Grading the Graders: Wired Students Test Professors ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Grading the Graders: Wired Students Test Professors

Student Pollsters Are Relentless, Uncompromising, Subtle

No one ever said professorship was easy. And that's especially true now, when every classroom is filled with pollsters.

As wired as everyone is these days, if you sit in the back of a classroom, you can tell when the lecture starts dragging by the number of people who quietly launch Amazon or eBay or Lark News. MacBooks and Dell Inspirons are silent, effective ballot boxes. (In my case, the equivalent is less subtle: notes jotted in the margins of my retro special edition, collegiate-ruled Mead notebook.) Many a professor receives the passive censure of the blogosphere or (worst of all) desktop solitaire. They suspect, but are helpless--anchored at the front of the classroom.

I'm not saying this is right or wrong, mind you. (Situational ethics, anyone?) Just engaging in some cultural observation. And in other breaking news...

Baby's Arrival Interrupts Planned Class Schedule

Today I finally caught up with one of my alleged professors in a class I am allegedly taking this semester, and have these insights to offer to young, aspiring educators--many of whom read this blog. Let's get right to the lesson.

How To Provoke Respect Disbelief & Compliance Rage in Your Students

  1. When informed that the student has a new baby, appear dubious. Avoid eye conduct. Say something along the lines of " why did you miss the exam again? Oh, your wife had a baby?" The student should have considered your syllabus before his child was conceived.
  2. By no means show interest in the child's arrival. Do NOT: ask the baby's gender, inquire as to health, name, or basketball IQ. This would compromise the professor-student distance.
  3. When the student asks to make up an exam or quiz, give him the opportunity--but with great reluctance. "Right now" or "tomorrow" are good time-frames. Making up work is a privilege, and the student should be made to appreciate this.
  4. Address the student as if he is a sneaky high school kid, intent on avoiding work. After all, most students are "called" to ministry once they realize that it is an indoor job not requiring heavy lifting. Warn the student that "if this happens again" (presumably with a different mother) you will not be so lenient.
  5. Inform the student that he should have "planned ahead" and turned in his work a week early. The arrival of a baby should not have prevented his assignment from reaching your desk.
  6. Do not inform the student of additional work that has been assigned in his absence. If he's in grad school, he's smart enough to make educated guesses.
  7. In summary, a good rule of thumb: Don't appear interested in your student, his offspring, or his life outside the classroom. He ought to be completely absorbed in his studies, pursuing holiness and good form under your tutelage.
You can't make this stuff up. That is, allegedly you can't make this stuff up. And allegedly, everything this professor says from here on out will be marked with a Barry Bonds-style asterisk. Just one more semester, then it's up, up and away to the real world...

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John said...

Hmmm...I wonder if the two topics in the post have something (or someone) in common.

Bernard Shuford said...

Well, now. Isn't school just special :)

I miss school. I really do. Enjoy it. Seriously. I'm not saying your situation is easy - far from it - but enjoy the opportunity to pour yourself full of knowledge, no matter how mundane. I would love to be in a classroom right now.

Ariel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ariel said...

Deleted my last comment, which was a little over the top.

I'm not the guy who complains about being in the classroom. I'm the guy who hangs out in the bookstore for fun and looks forward to the new semester... finding motivation for the joyful pursuit of new knowledge is not the problem here, if you know what I'm saying.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife