Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Today's Actual Students

Today, the Matron put her best pedagogical foot forward and administered a fair, yet comprehensive, exam in class XXX. Because students did so poorly on the last exam, she also graciously offered this version as an open book!

An open book exam! In a fun and interesting class! Sounds like a party!! Compare this to calculus and well, let's all groove on that humanities thing!

Early this morning, however, calamity struck. She's sure her students were each, surprisingly, coincidentally born under the exact same astrological constellation. How unusual!

Email 1: "I am on my way to the dentist for an emergency root canal. When can I take the test?"

Email 2: "My car stalled on the highway and I'm typing from cell phone. What should I do?"

Well . . . she guesses that depends entirely on the veracity of the report.

Phone call: "My dog ran away, Mary. I need to keep looking for him. Can I take the test tomorrow?"

Email 3: "Funeral. Same time as test."

Email 4: "All of my four children are sick and I have to stay home to take care of them."

Phone call: "I lost my book!"

By the time yours truly got to the actual exam itself, she was beaten. Demoralized. Worn to a pulp and also annoyed with the extra work she just went to, setting up a second time for these absent students to take the exam. Yes, she gave them one final shot.

Just in case there really was a root canal, funeral, stalled car, sick children, lost dog and misplaced book. She's weak that way . . what if. Damn those stars.

So she was in a no-nonsense mood when the exam arrived for the students actually prepared to take it. With a book. To the Matron, this is sort of like saying: here are the answers. But she did it anyway. . .just in case that last test really was too hard.

Those students dug in. Got to work. Focused with barely a pause for a question or two. A peaceful, somewhat foreign, aura of genuine studiousness permeated the room. She began to relax.

Click, click click. Ten minutes are the test time was up, she gave the stragglers a two minute warning.

Click, click, click. The stragglers wrapped up and sort of meandered about, a few waiting to talk to the Matron. Except one, who kept on writing even as her instructor (the supposed authority figure) stood next to her and said: "really, it's time to stop."

Student Q: "I just need, like, another hour."

Matron: "Well, it's a timed exam with a grace period. That's all part of the process." Plus, the Matron had plans for that hour that did not include sitting in this classroom.

Student Q sighed deeply and shut her book: "Okay, but I did horrible."

But, there appeared to be a solution for Student Q. She handed the Matron her test and said: "You should just let me take this again tomorrow, okay?"

Now . . . the Matron isn't sure if it was the build-up -- the well-timed emergencies, the hours spent creating an exam (open book tests are tricky), the grading ahead -- or if it was just the 'you should' part that hit that wee little gas light that had ignited within her that morning.

Actually, she's pretty sure it was mostly shock that colored her reaction.

Matron: "ARE YOU KIDDING? NO. No. NO. This is a TEST which means how you actually perform on it MATTERS."

Student Q: "Well, it was just an idea. How else can I get a better grade on this test?"

Matron: "You can't! It's a test! Like Driver's Ed where if you crash you fail. The 'how can I do better' part is over!"

Student Q: "Well, the whole test situation just doesn't seem right."

Here, she was in complete agreement.


smalltownme said...

These students seem like...complete morons. And yet I have a sweet and gentle son who cannot pass a college English class because he does not understand what he is supposed to write about. But he would never send such stupid e-mails to his teachers.

JFS in IL said...

And these are COLLEGE students? Maybe you'd be doing them a bigger favor by flunking them! In the "real world" they sure aren't going to be given do-overs of extra time from employers.

If I was one of the students who actually showed up, with my book, and took the test, I'd be peeved to learn about the ones who got to wait for a later test time (and possibly found out the test questions in advance from another student.)

I remember having to confront a student in a college class and finding out NO ONE have ever, in high school, taught her how to do a research paper (she had carefully
copied out a chapter in out class text as her "paper" for a course in Film History). I sent her to the writing lab for help in re-doing the paper - with a grade penalty, though.

JFS me again in IL said...

"Our class text". Oops.

I like the idea of letting students know that late test-takers would be penalized a certain percentage (like, if they earned a B they'd only get a C ).

Anonymous said...

Oh.My.Goodness. Is there an anti-school in an alternate universe where these "students" belong?

JFS in IL said...

Wow, I had a lot of typos in my post above. It was early and I hadn't had my cuppa tea yet!

Anonymous said...

This isn't THE Q, is it?
Amazing the sense of entitlement these students arrive with, isn't it?

Minnesota Matron said...

No -- not the same Q. But oh so similar.

trash said...

Oh! On the other hand at least dealing with these morons gives you a greater appreciation for those who actually get the concept of being a student. Doesn't it?

Catherine said...

I guess that some teachers actually DO let students do re-writes. JFS in IL, I too was a student who came prepared for exams, and it infuriated me if re-writes we allowed.

These college students have never learned about responsibility and accountability. Sad, really.

Anonymous said...

I think smalltownme is mom to my son's twin.
It was a long summer break and I've missed reading you. I don't think I'm going to make it through the 40 other unread posts... but you never can tell.
~Karen (formerly kcinnova)

Deborah J said...

Green Girl in Wisconsin hit it on the head...entitlement.
There is a problem with parents making life too easy for children, and continuously solving their problems for them. Worst is when adults convince them they can do anything, but forget to tell them that they have to acquire solid skills...and work hard!