Thursday, December 11, 2008

cheeky

[found in a stack of three-year-old e-mails:]

Dear Professor Scroogins [sic],

You probably do not remember me, but I was in [one of your classes] over a year ago. If you do remember, I missed the final because of a mixup of dates and you therefore gave me a D as my final grade. I was supposed to schedule a makeup exam with you, but because my schedule is so crazy I haven't been able to. Being that it is now over a year later I was wondering if you might just call it even and change my D to at least a C. According to the last time I spoke to you my grade was a high B in the class without the final.

[oddly enough, I never got around to replying...]
***
Update: One commenter, choosing a convenient anonymity, asks "Provided that this student email is authentic, what would your employer, Florida Atlantic, think of you openly mocking students online?" What can I say? I can pretty easily imagine "mocking" this e-mail (just as I can imagine someone's mocking various communications of mine); but is it mockery simply to reproduce it verbatim?

(Call me crusty, but I look back in fondness on the days when the university was considered an association of faculty banded together for teaching & research – this was sometime in the late middle ages, I believe – rather than a corporation in which "instructional personnel" nest somewhere between grounds maintenance people and promotional memo writers in the grand hierarchy.)

Bradley comments, rather more helpfully, "You should reply to that email this weekend. 'Being that it's now been three years since you took the class, I'm ready to schedule that makeup exam. Let's do it today.'" In point of fact, I tried to schedule a makeup exam with student in question one more than one occasion in the months following the course, but it just never worked out with student's schedule. 

–which addresses the next (anonymous) comment, "Come on man you could've given him an incomplete. Scary passive-aggressive dude: just not responding." Around here, I fear, you can't just "give" an incomplete – there's a longish, rather complicated paperwork process. If memory serves, I offered to go thru said process with said student, & student opined that it would be better to take the grade earned sans final, then make up the exam as soon as possible. Hey, I reserve my passive-aggression for personal relationships and editors: I'm Mr Upfront with students.

But the only point was to point out cheekiness (something, frankly, which I rather admire): Note how student doesn't suggest "hey, it's time for me to take that exam," but "hey, time's passed; let's just split the difference." I wish I had the chutzpah.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

give him a "B"!

what difference does it make?

he's got something very rare... an ethics, albeit
cheeky,

etc..

E. M. Selinger said...

On my syllabus, I say that if you miss the final, you fail the whole course, no matter how well you've been doing.

Never actually done it, but it gives me a good starting position for negotiations!

Anonymous said...

Provided that this student email is authentic, what would your employer, Florida Atlantic, think of you openly mocking students online?

Bradley said...

You should reply to that email this weekend. "Being that it's now been three years since you took the class, I'm ready to schedule that makeup exam. Let's do it today."

Anonymous said...

Come on man you could've given him an incomplete. Scary passive-aggressive dude: just not responding.

Bradley said...

That student reads this blog?

An incomplete for blowing off the final... Good Lord!

Anonymous said...

Culture industry says it all, huh Mark? You've only shown here that you promulgate impersonal, commodified, mass-market higher education. Another erudite cynic. Great.

Anonymous said...

no matter how cynical
I get
I just can't
keep up!

almost enuff comments for him to turn-in
another
term-paper

Reb said...

Heh, I can't believe anyone would suggest that you give that student any kind of break at all.

One time I wrote a ballsy note to a professor insisting she change a C to an A (on a short story). She basically told me to go fuck myself and gave me a C for my final grade. Valuable life lesson, I tell you. I was used to bullying teaching assistants into bumping up my grade (twice, with success!) I needed to be reigned in.

Reb said...

On the other hand, it's been over 15 years, maybe I should write her now and see if she'll fix the grade, considering all the time that's passed and how I grew up to become a such a successful blogging poet.

Anonymous said...

Mockery: perhaps not. A reprehensible breach of privacy: most definitely.

Bradley said...

Reprehensible is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose (frankly, I find publicly insulting someone while hiding behind a shield of anonymity to be much more reprehensible than a college professor sharing a story about an irresponsible student), but there's certainly no privacy violation here-- email recipients are free to share emails with anyone they want (and particularly in Florida or other states with Sunshine Laws, the notion that email is "private" is completely laughable). The only privacy concern that could arise would be if Fr. Scroogins had included the student's name or other identifying features in this blog post-- since the student discusses his or her grade, this would be a concern. But he didn't, so it's not. And you're quite silly. Nyah.

Such hand-wringing, though! It's kind of inspiring to see such melodramatic devotion. I just wish you could channel that devotion into something a bit more productive (and less stupid) than attacking a guy for sharing a funny story.

Mark Scroggins said...

Basta, "anonymous." Whose privacy did I effing breach? Can you name the person? Can you even identify their gender? The course referred to?

If you want to continue this crap, you can backchannel me; if you comment again, I'll delete it. Have a nice day.

(If that's you N--- R---, I hope you're doing well; it's really time to grow up, you know.)

Bradley said...

On a more cheerful note, Mark, I suggest that you adopt the nom de blog "Ebeneezer Scroogins," at least during the X-mas season.

mark wallace said...

Mark, clearly you did the right thing.

Hey, you must know the blog site Rate You Students, yes? If not you should check it out. It's a good site to read when experiencing these kinds of frustrations with students.

Steven Fama said...

Yes, Scroogins for the holidaze, if you've the nerve Mark! That's hilarious. The misspelling was either purposeful or Freudian, I believe.

I'm all for whatever it might be that's the the opposite of rational thought, though I usually reserve that for poetry and all, but even so I'm flummoxed by the student's suggestion that "you might just call it even" as the purported reason for changing the grade.

I might just call it odd.

If the student was really peeved at your decision or lack of reply, he would have written to the department chair or the college president. That the student didn't here sort of proves there's no real beef possible with your action or non-decision or non-reply.

Thanks for sharing.