I turned in final grades yesterday. I always look forward to this point in the semester because it usually means I have 2-3 weeks off from thinking about this evil day job, and I can work on other things. But I dread it too because invariably (particularly in spring semester), I get the phone calls.
Which phone calls? you ask.
The ones from the students who are dissatisfied with their grades and wish to a) argue their way to a better one, b) accuse me of prejudice, or c) claim my math was wrong.
Today’s phone call was all three. God save me.
My class is very straight forward. The quizzes and tests and exams are totally objective. They either get the question right or they get it wrong. The discussion question portion is worth 20% of their grade and if they answer the question correctly, show me that they can properly cite their sources, they get the full 10/10 each week. As a reward to students who mastered the material through the semester, anyone who has earned 90% of the possible points before the final is exempt. So in this particular class, that’s 423 points of a possible 470. Anyone falling below that mark has to take the final, which is worth 100 points. Ergo, anyone taking the final has their grade calculated out of 570 points. This SHOULD make sense to anyone at the college level.
Sadly, it doesn’t.
First this student thought that 443 points after the final should be enough for an A since the people who had 423 BEFORE the final got an A. Um. No. That’s a C. And with the sanction handed down by the Honor Council for her plagiarism violation earlier this semester, it’s a D.
Then she basically said I was unfair, unreasonable, that my class was ridiculously hard and that she never stood a chance even before the plagiarism and that no one understood the assignments, and she’d really tried to get help and access to the library to do the assignments but couldn’t, and she is SUPPOSED to graduate and why can’t I change her grade.
Gee, because the other 29 people in the class, less the other plagiarist, managed to do their assignments on time, honestly, and to some extent correctly. And because in three years of teaching this class, I have never had anyone have the alleged problems with the assignment that she has.
If graduation was so important to her, then maybe she should have considered, I don’t know, actually WORKING rather than expecting to just be HANDED a grade she didn’t earn.
This is a serious problem in our society. All this nicety, get a ribbon for trying, average is okay, support for mediocrity is DESTROYING education. Where is the drive and the reward for excellence? Instead of patting everyone on the head and acting like half-assing is okay, have some effing expectations. Make them work. Make them EARN their grade. Make them learn that the world is not about hand outs (or shouldn’t be–though it is to a certain segment of the population) and freebies. It’s about HARD WORK and accountability for one’s actions. You want to pass my class, then you damn well better show mastery of the material and actually WORK. Don’t go around claiming you tried when you showed no improvement and never asked anyone for help.
That particularly drives me insane. The people most in need of help won’t ask for it, and then when they get the smack down at the end of the semester, they claim it’s our fault because we didn’t spoon feed them.
THIS IS COLLEGE.
And if this kind of trend isn’t reversed, it’s going to continue to devalue education even more than it already has been, which is a tragic state of affairs in a country where most of the low end jobs have been shipped out of the country, leaving a huge segment of the population who are ill-suited to the rigors of a traditional college education without acceptable jobs to apply for. Then the educational institutions are lowering entrance requirements because they need the tuition dollars, whether these folks are capable of performing at an adequate level or not.
It drives me crazy.
Idiocracy. It’s happening now.