Where's the exam, man?
I knew he would be there. No, I'm not psychic, but I knew. No doubt at all. And there he was! Sitting in the back of the room. Boy, did he look disoriented! Was it because he hadn't seen the inside of the classroom in so long? Could that have been it? Certainly possible. It had been weeks since he had bothered to grace us with his presence. The classroom could well have been foreign and rather frightening to him. But, no, that was not the reason he was looking bewildered.
He was wondering where the exam was. The course syllabus clearly said that an exam was scheduled for today. He had missed Monday's class when I announced the postponement. He had missed Wednesday's class where everyone was reminded about the postponement. He had strolled in expecting to find me handing out an exam and instead I was leading the class through a discussion of the topics of the last two chapters and clarifying the technique of Lagrange multipliers. The time is out of joint; O cursed spite, that ever I enrolled in a calculus class out of sync with its syllabus!
I think he was miffed. Here he was, using an hour of his precious, precious time to sit through a class when we weren't even taking an exam. Drat! He slumped at his desk, clearly uncomfortable. (Well, we could blame the furniture for that. It's not that comfy.) He's one of the students I permitted to add the class after the first week of the semester. Why do I bother to let such students in? As I've noted before, they never do well.
The hour came to an end and students began to bustle out. I called my sporadic student by name and asked to speak with him a moment. Perhaps he was startled that I remembered his name, but he slouched forward and stood next to the lectern.
“Can you think of any reason why I should not drop you from the class? I haven't seen you in weeks. Why didn't you drop?”
Now he was really startled. He stammered out an answer:
“I wanted to come! I tried but I couldn't. Really. I've been studying and keeping up and everything!” (I wonder what he thinks “everything” entails in this context; certainly not attendance or handing in assignments.) “I've had emergencies that I've had to handle. Last night I was up late in San Francisco, but I studied all night to be ready for the exam.”
I offered some sweet reasonableness:
“I know that sometimes students have emergencies, but I expect them to inform me when it interferes with their classes. I haven't heard from you either by voice mail or e-mail all the time you've been gone.”
“Well, I couldn't really get in touch. I've been sick. It's affecting all my classes.”
“If you're not attending any of your classes, you should consider withdrawing and enrolling again when circumstances are more settled.”
“But these are classes I need!”
“If you actually need them, you should actually take them. I can drop you from this class for nonattendance and probably should, but I'll expect to see you on Monday for the exam and each class day thereafter. Understand?”
He hustled quickly away without giving me a direct answer. I do expect to see him on Monday. I don't expect him to do well on the exam, even though he inadvertently got to sit in on an extra review session. He won't be in class on Wednesday, at which point I will drop him.
This has been another episode of Bend Over Backward Theater. The continuing saga.