There may very well be a hoarding gene in my family tree. I seem to have inherited it from my parents. Dad exhibits this behavior in his workshop, which is cluttered with the detritus of decades, including a large collection of old-fashioned vacuum tubes—perfect for fixing up that old Curtis-Mathes television of yours. Mom keeps boxes of stuff in the basement, including virtually every scrap of school work ever brought home by one of the children. In my case, this includes bundles of material from my initial foray into grad school back in the seventies.
Last week I made a quick trip to the old homestead to participate in a nephew's birthday. At one point I took a break down in the basement and ended up riffling through the family archives. I hit a rich vein from my early teaching days, including bundles of punch cards from student surveys. In addition to filling in bubbles on the front of the card, many students wrote comments on the back. One of the first to catch my eye made me sad:
Z very rarely came prepared for class. His lectures were all straight out of the book, word for word. He also wasn't able to answer various homework problems in class.Damn. That didn't square with my recollection of my first teaching assignments. Did I really get stuck that much? Did I parrot the book? That's hardly my style today. How things have changed! Or have they? The next card said:
Z is usually a well organized lecturer who presents the subject in a clear and illuminating manner. He also takes time in class to discuss difficult problems, as well as to answer questions on the reading.Ah! That's more like it! Here's another:
Z will sometimes introduce a proof of his own to supplement the book's proofs. Usually, his make more sense.Ha! So much for “word for word”! Of course, it's not all 100% positive:
Works very hard to prepare for the lectures & exams. Z tends to joke around too much sometimes.Well, that sounds accurate. What was that first kid thinking, anyway? It happens every school year, of course. You have students sitting side by side in the same class and their reports of their experience sound as if they were on different planets. (Helpful hint, kids: Try really hard to find an instructor on your wavelength!)
For sheer perversity, the following comment is one of my favorites. Could it be a joke?
Your timing on exams needs some help. I forget the material by the time the exam comes around, therefore, I actually need to study the material.It might very well be serious. I have had students in the intervening thirty-five years who say very similar things. (Poor babies! Having to study!)
Then there's this:
Z is dressing very well this quarter.That's what a TA gets for occasionally wearing a tie in the seventies. (It didn't take much to impress them.)
Whoa! For one thing, lecture is cited twice (and we didn't have a lab discussion session either), but the real point is whether this is even a reasonable standard. Homework as important as exams? You're kidding! I didn't do it then and I still don't do it now. I guess I'm just a rebel.
EXAMS EMPHASIZE, LECT., READINGS, LAB DISC., HOMEWORK, LECT. & TEXT EQUALLY
Still crazy after all these years.