It’s Funny Because It’s True

You’ve seen those Xtranormal videos that have been going around.  The ones featuring the professor in her office with a student whose cluelessness might seem, if you are not a teacher, exaggerated.  They are no exaggeration.  Consider the following email exchange that I was treated to late yesterday afternoon.

From me:

Dear Preparation for College English students:

I have corrected and returned your “Influential Person” paragraphs through the online classroom system.  You should be able to download your corrected assignment and view the corrections and comments I have made.  If you have any trouble downloading or opening the file, let me know.

I will not be accepting any late submissions of this assignment as of now.

Your English teacher,

Siobhan Curious

From student:

i dont understand didnt we have till 12:00

From me:

Dear Ephraim:

As I said in the message I sent you last week after you missed class, you had until 12 NOON today to submit this assignment.

Yours, Siobhan.

From student:

i didnt understand that i thought we had till 12 tonight like all the other assignments we have until midnight

From me:

Ephraim, the instructions were given very clearly in class, in the message that I sent you after you missed class last week, and on the assignment itself in the online dropbox.  It is your responsibility to read the guidelines carefully if you were not there when they were explained.  I do not know what you mean by “all the other assignments,” but they are not relevant.  Please do not write me about this again.  Siobhan.

From student:

so can i at lests give you the assignment and lose piont because it was given in late or i canty

From me:

See message below: “I will not be accepting any late submissions of this assignment as of now.”  I am not replying to any more of your messages today, Ephraim.  See you tomorrow.

From student:

But I didn’t understand miss Il bring you the assignemnt tomorrow fist thing can I pleas come to your officeto discuss.

From me:

{silence}


I would like to point out that these messages arrived today after yesterday’s class on “Writing Effective Emails.”  A class that Ephraim did not attend.

Let me make something clear: I don’t mean to suggest – I never mean to suggest – that college teachers are more long-suffering than those who do other jobs.  I suspect, however, that our sufferings are, on occasion, a little funnier than others’.  Funny the way a Peter Sellers film is funny.  If you don’t believe me, watch the Xtranormal video above.  It is all completely, utterly true.

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11 responses

  1. HA! My life would not have been complete witout seeing that video. Thank you.

    I’ve had people tell me that my commonly used phrase (“Sucks to be you”) seems a bit harsh for high school students. I point out that when the due dates and expectations are abundantly clear, not holding students responsible is called enabling. And SO many people need to stop.

    • Crystal:
      I think this is the moment in the term when our patience begins to run out. In a case like Ephraim’s, one too many missed classes, incomplete homework assignments and misunderstandings has added up to a whole lot of no empathy on my part. A lot of students are busting their asses; I have no time for “I didn’t bother to read what your email actually said.” I try to remind myself in the moment that in a few weeks’ time, this will be funny!

  2. No, you “canty.” Wow.

    The proliferation of these XtraNormal videos makes me laugh and cry. I wish someone would make one that I could post on my school website, but there’s always too much swearing. :)

    “I am no a C student.” AUUUUUUGH. I am so there right now for quarter grades.

    • I know. I’ve heard so many variations on the “I am not a C student” line – where do you even begin with that?

  3. Here’s what I am dealing with at my high school…

    “No Zero Policy”
    Have you ever heard of it? My school follows the rule that if a student chooses not to turn in a homework on the day it is due, then you give them a “well, that’s okay, I know you were busy.” Then, they have up to two days to turn in work. After that, they get D-Hall. I’m supposed to chase down students in the lunch room, call parents, and put little reminders on other work that says, “remember, Johnny, your work is due.” They technically get two weeks before the work becomes a ZERO.

    How is that helping kids with responsibility? The logic they try to use behind it is “it’s easy for kids to take a zero. This is more punishment MAKING them do the work than just giving them a zero.” Nah, I think making them repeat a year is pretty nice punishment. But hey, what do I know?

    So all that was in reply to the genius emailing you over and over. I’m wondering if the No Zero Policy is an epidemic spread from High School to High School, leaking into the college realm. Oh, JOY!

    • CatJoy:
      Oooof – what a pain for you. I have heard of variations on the No Zero Policy, and I understand the various rationales behind them, but I have not yet been convinced to stop giving zeroes/taking off points for late work. There are all sorts of arguments about how I am supposed to be evaluating students’ learning of the subject matter, not their punctuality, but learning tasks don’t live in a vacuum – students have to live in a world where deadlines are realities, and the school system we have (with all its massive imperfections) doesn’t work if students don’t hand in work on time. I am a great advocate for making BIG changes to our conceptions of education, but in the meantime, I need papers to appear before the deadlines, and students need to learn to make that happen. I feel for you!

  4. This is hilarious and I can see the truth in it all. I have a 16 year old ‘sort of” grandson and I can see him talking in this video… same monotone, same logic!!! He does do his homework and does well in school.. but this is the way he would talk!

    Love the it!

  5. I should admit that we *apparently* shouldn’t be surprised that students expect to be given extra considerations given policies like “No Zero.” I was shocked to find out from a parent last week that her child did not actually pass junior high. Instead, they gave him what is called “social promotion.”

    I haven’t been a teacher for a long period of time, and I realize that I am naive when it comes to many topics. I also realize that some students are pushed through based on age, etc. I was not, however, aware of anything known as social promotion. After that I conversation, I realized something.

    I’ve been asking my students if they believe I will push them through because they are good people. While many of them have just stared at me in response, I now realize that they truly believe that’s EXACTLY what will happen. It’s always happened before. Why shouldn’t it happen at the high school level, too?

    That leads me to believe the same thing is happening at the college level. So infuriating. But this experience was definitely an eye-opener for me.

  6. Crystal:

    My understanding is that “being pushed through because of age” is the same thing as “social promotion” – schools are reluctant to hold students back because they think they will suffer socially from being separated from their peers. I think “social promotion” is a fairly common phenomenon, especially in systems where students who fail a course or a few courses have to repeat a whole grade. It might make more sense to alter the systems so that students can repeat the courses they need to and otherwise advance with everyone else.

    But students get through courses when they shouldn’t for all kinds of reasons. The fact is, my grade breakdowns are such that if students make a good effort and hand in all their work, they are quite likely to pass my course even if their skills are weak. I am working all the time to try to make my assessments more fair and and accurate, but students will always slip through.

    • Siobhan,

      Thanks for the clarification. In my head, I was separating social promotion from state mandates to push children through by specific ages (15 for junior high and 21 for high school). Although, in high school, we are not required to give them a diploma.

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