Now You’ve Made Me Mad: Reprise

I don’t like this time of the semester.  A couple of years ago at around this time, I summarized why.


What do you mean, “Why am I failing English?”

You’ve failed EVERY SINGLE ASSIGNMENT since the beginning of the course.  You handed in your first essay 2 weeks late, and you wouldn’t have handed it in at all if I hadn’t asked you where the hell it was.  You got 37% on your last practice essay, but you didn’t ask me a SINGLE QUESTION about why, or even look at the detailed feedback sheet I filled out for you, and then you went ahead and wrote the real essay, and got a 40% on that.

What do you mean, what can you do to catch up?  There are TWO WEEKS left in the semester.  You’ve been failing English since the fourth or fifth week – why are you coming to see me about this now?  Your grades have been posted up this whole time.  The fact that you’re failing English is NOT NEWS.

Yes, I’m sure your other courses HAVE been very difficult.  If you’ve chosen to prioritize your other courses, then that is a perfectly legitimate choice.  We all make such choices.  Most of us also recognize that if we don’t prioritize something, we’re not likely to do very well in it.

Why am I angry with you?  I’m angry with you because you’ve had 13 weeks to deal with this problem, and yet you march into my office when the semester is, for all intents and purposes, OVER, and you suggest that a) the fact that you’re failing English is a total surprise to you, and b) I am somehow responsible for the fact that you are surprised, and c) I should now be doing something to help you deal with this problem.  THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN BE DONE NOW, and certainly nothing that I can do.  The time for dealing with this problem has PASSED.

What’s that?  Why don’t I care about your success?

I do care about your success.  I care about it very much.  I’ve been sitting here in my office, and standing in your classroom, caring about it, all semester.

You’ve been so busy not doing your work, you haven’t noticed.

Photo by Dominic Morel

Here’s What I’d Change About School

Dear readers:

There are some exciting developments happening at Classroom as Microcosm.  The last week has seen a major uptick in traffic, not least because a recent post, Fail Better, was chosen as a WordPress Freshly Pressed feature and so attracted a whole bunch of new followers and, at last count, 228 comments – welcome and thank you!

In the meantime, I have received lots of interesting and articulate responses to a question I posed to student readers: what would you change about school?  I’d still love to know what you think about this topic – please hop over to the post and leave your comments – but in the meantime, several readers have agreed to let me publish their answers as posts, for your consideration and discussion.

Accordingly, next week I will run five posts from five students, in which they explain what they would change about school if they were Supreme Leaders of the Universe.  Look out for Emily’s post on Monday, in which she tells us her problem with school: it’s just not challenging enough.

Image by Julien Tromeur