Interesting article in a recent *Chronicle of Higher Education* by a communications professor and his struggle with arrogant students. I was wondering if his reasons for the rise of these types in college classrooms is accurate:
"Of course, colleges have always had some HAP's. Yet there is no question that more freshmen today are not only intellectually unprepared for higher education, but behaviorally challenged as well. "How can anyone get to be 18 and not know that sitting in the first row of a classroom and humming while reading Sports Illustrated during a teacher's lecture isn't incredibly rude?" lamented one of my colleagues. Behavioral issues that used to be dealt with at home or in elementary school are now ignored, tolerated, or medicated until they plop into the laps of college professors.
As one teacher at a public high school explained to me, "You're so happy to get a smart, involved kid that you end up treating him like royalty." A high-school counselor noted, "Sure, we pamper the bright kids -- we have to." She explained that parents of HAP's push teachers to spoil them, administrators need HAP's to boost the school's average scores, and it's easier to surrender to HAP's persistence than to fight them and the parents and administrators behind them. HAP's sail through K-12 education -- where they find the demands of homework relatively light and where they are worshiped by teachers who are delighted that the HAP's, unlike some other students, will not threaten physical assault.
I admit that one reason I am reluctant to do battle with a rude HAP is that some of them are correct in their self-appraisals. They may be geniuses, and I don't want to be the shortsighted, convention-bound teacher who, as they will later explain in their best-selling autobiographies, was blind to their talents. Many of the great minds throughout history -- Newton, Edison, and Einstein, for example -- were poor students in the traditional school systems into which they were forced.
Yet it's our duty not to let HAP's run unfettered; unbridled genius is seldom socially productive. Like many HAP's, Spartacus Jr. was lazy, or rather thought he did not have to work. His papers were late; his assignments were full of simple errors. That is the most troubling characteristic of hard-core HAP's: They think they just have to show up to score an A. Many do not believe in the work ethic, nor can they tolerate criticism. As one HAP who suffered through a writing course I taught put it, without irony: "I know I'm great; grammar shouldn't matter." For their own sake, we must disabuse HAP's of such beliefs."
(edited by DMC on 18.8.03 1147) "One two three FOUR FIVE six seven eight NINE TEN eleven twelve!"
There are those who disdain the everyday trappings of academia as being beneath them, and then there are those who are bored and unmotivated by them. The most brilliant guy I knew in high school was in the latter camp; he was an absolute wizard at mathematics, but nearly failed his senior year because he had a thing about doing liberal-arts research papers. I've known many others from the A-in-Lab, F-in-Lecture camp, who do fantastic work when they do it at all.
That said, the most valuable lesson a student can learn is a simple one: garbage in, garbage out. Grade inflation and pampering recalcitrant self-described "geniuses" is a great way to teach the opposite -- that they're so far above their peers that they can get away with minimal effort when others can't. Most who feel that way hit the wall hard when they move on to further studies; there's always someone better around the corner, and "something special" can become "a dime a dozen" rather suddenly. (It's not just in academics -- the high-school football star who suddenly finds that he can't get off the bench in college also comes to mind.)
"When WCW tries to be racy, it's generally about as light-heartedly entertaining as watching a man rape a woman in a chicken yard." -- Dark Cheetah
There were a couple of kids like this in my HS class....they ended up flunking out of college and some went back and are 24-year old juniors or they are doing some menial job.
Just the opposite can happen though...some kid that was just average in HS and all the teachers thought was a moron can find the right thing in college and it just clicks and they do really well and move on with life
Originally posted by vspThat said, the most valuable lesson a student can learn is a simple one: garbage in, garbage out. Grade inflation and pampering recalcitrant self-described "geniuses" is a great way to teach the opposite -- that they're so far above their peers that they can get away with minimal effort when others can't. Most who feel that way hit the wall hard when they move on to further studies; there's always someone better around the corner, and "something special" can become "a dime a dozen" rather suddenly. (It's not just in academics -- the high-school football star who suddenly finds that he can't get off the bench in college also comes to mind.)
Too true. Of course, that doesn't help any when you are the teacher who has to deal with the arrogant little snot and his/her parents when they get, if you're really lucky, the midterm report letting them know that the student is in danger of failing a class or, if you're less lucky, the report card with that D or F on it. I know from very unpleasant personal experience that dealing with that situation added more stress and personal embarrassment to my life than I would have imagined possible.
For example, one of my "favorite" experiences as a teacher was having a young lady bitch, moan, whine, cry, and curse at me in front of at least 6 other instructors (who were behind her and holding up signs grading her performance and my responses) and several other students for giving her a, wait for it, B+ on an assignment worth 2 percent of her final grade for the semester. After I wouldn't change her grade, she went and repeated the performance for my course director and the department chair which meant I got to hear about it from both of them because they weren't enthused by her performance. The end result was that she poisoned the class for the remainder of the semester and got a B+ for the semester instead of the A- to A her work deserved because my syllabus included in the grade calculations a 10 percent class participation section. Also, I got to hear about it from my course director and department chair for a second time because both she and her parents bypassed me and went directly to my superiors to complain about how I'd mistreated their daughter and that that wasn't the conduct that should be allowed at a major university and that they wouldn't sue the school if the grade was changed and I was immediately fired and so on and so on. Ultimately, her grade didn't change and her parents became really offended when my department chair told them to sue because he wanted to see their reaction when they got laughed out of court.
From that experience, I'd offer the second most important lesson a college student needs to learn: know how to complain about or question your grades in a respectful fashion lest ye truly offend your instructor because we can be truly cruel and vindictive when provoked.
At two of the institutions I taught at, truly problem students didn't receive D's or F's, they got a C-. Why a C- you may ask? Because that grade meant that you hadn't met the distribution requirement, it called for a C, not a C-, and you couldn't retake the class for credit and wipe out your old grade. Instead, you had to take the class again as a non-credit course which meant that you had those hours on top of your full load for scholarship or financial aid and both grades showed up on your transcript. In addition, it showed up on the class rosters that you were a non-credit student retaking the course which meant that your new instructor was going to do their best to find out why you were in that situation and would consult the first instructor to find out more about you and why you received that coveted C-.
On the other hand, if you offer real and legitimate questions or arguments about grades, especially in subjective classes, my experience as both a student and a teacher has been that you will often see results from that action. I may not change your grade this time, but I'll remember that you had good reasons for your answers and that will influence the way I grade your next essay, exam, or whatever the assignment may be. But, if you come in and tell me that I need to change your grade just because you're that damn good and piss me off, I guarantee that I'll remember that the next time I'm grading and it will influence how I grade.
Originally posted by DMCI admit that one reason I am reluctant to do battle with a rude HAP is that some of them are correct in their self-appraisals. They may be geniuses, and I don't want to be the shortsighted, convention-bound teacher who, as they will later explain in their best-selling autobiographies, was blind to their talents. Many of the great minds throughout history -- Newton, Edison, and Einstein, for example -- were poor students in the traditional school systems into which they were forced. Yet it's our duty not to let HAP's run unfettered; unbridled genius is seldom socially productive.
I really have to wonder about the author of these few sentences as a teacher because I find them to be a truly sad comment on what this person does inside the classroom. I really don't even know where to start except to say thank goodness I never had a teacher who was uncaring enough to let me get away with murder instead of actually challenging themselves and me to apply that gift just because I might write disparagingly about them at some future point.
"Verhoeven's _Starship Troopers_: Based on the back cover of the book by Robert Heinlein."
I second everything vsp and bash said. My guess is that the author either does not do any actual grading or is simply a very poor teacher who cares more about their research than about teaching (sad but very common in higher education).
And, in addition to bash's stories, a couple of other things--do not use the 'I'll lose my scholarship if I receive a D/F/whatevergradeearned in this class' argument. The grade is an evaluation of your performance in the class, and your scholarship is irrelevant in the teacher's assessment of your performance. The teacher understands that no one class will cause you to lose a scholarship, even if you don't understand that. (as an aside, I should point out that this argument is a *little* better than the 'my parents won't let me come back to college if I receive this grade in the class' argument)
One other thing about arguing for points is to be specific. Focus on a particular problem or two and give the impression (even if it's a false impression) that you want to figure out why you lost points and that you want to know where points were lost because you want to understand the material and why your answer fell short.
Additionally, do not approach the professor in the classroom immediately after a test is handed back and have him/her explain why x number of points were taken off for each problem. If you want to know this, set an appointment and make it more like a 'I'd like to go over the test to see what I need to do to meet your expectations' type of meeting (NOTE: This is particularly effective on the first test in either an introductory or a 'cornerstone' type class). In the process of going over the test, you'll find out why the prof deducted points for each respective problem. Furthermore, you will gain additional insight into how they grade and what they look for (which is very valuable information). Moreover, you might get points if they decide they were too harsh in some part(s), which is more likely to happen than if you simply challenge the prof.
EDIT: One last pet peeve--I don't 'give grades' and I don't 'take points away' (you don't start with any points for me to 'take'). Both grades and points are earned.
I don't think the author was coming off as a poor teacher who's only interested in research. Perhaps I could post the whole thing--I hoped that excerpt was enough to get his point across. He seems to care and want to challenge students. His main point was simply to vent about students who believe they're ALL THAT when it disrupts from the class.
He tells a story of how once he was forced to say "I know you're a genius now shut up!" The student apparently stormed out of the room. Whether or not you think *that* was a good thing to do when pushed, I personally would have loved to have a professor or two say that to some cocky students I encountered in grad school.
"One two three FOUR FIVE six seven eight NINE TEN eleven twelve!"
Well this is person of the year, not person of the past four years. Obama is now person of the year twice and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and he has essentially gotten it all for being elected president, in my opinion.