Friday, June 26, 2009

Dress rehearsals

Uh ... line?

She possessed the serenity of the clueless. Nothing seemed to disturb her as she sat immersed in obliviousness in my statistics class. I kept writing “See me” on her disastrous quizzes, but she didn't bother. Finally I managed to catch her at the end of the period.

“We have an exam next week and I need to ask you what you're doing to get ready.”


“Yes. Ready. Because you're not. Ready, that is. You've flunked every single quiz so far and you need to get your act together if you're going to have any chance on the exam.”

“Oh, I already know that I'm not going to pass the exam.”

“You do? Well, that makes two of us. But you seem awfully calm for someone who actually knows she's flunking a class.”

“Yeah, but that's okay. You see, Mr. Z, I'm not really taking the class.”

“Really? Then it may be a problem that your name is on my class roster and I'm going to have to assign you a grade.”

“Oh, I can explain. I'm really taking the class next semester. I enrolled in your class this semester for practice.”

I mulled that over for a moment. Some students must have more time than they know what to do with if they deliberately plan to take a class twice. It's not a typical student problem, most of whom wish the days had 30 hours instead of only 24.

“You are planning to flunk?”

“Yeah! This is just so that I can see what's in the class and get familiar with the material. Then next semester I'll do really well.”

I considered what to say and then just said it.

“That's a remarkably foolish plan. And a real time-waster, too. I'm glad you have time to burn. But apart from all that, it's not working. You haven't familiarized yourself with anything so far. On the last quiz you didn't even know that x-bar stands for the arithmetic mean—the average—of a sample. How can you not even recognize a symbol that we've been using for two weeks in class every day? You are really and truly wasting your time.” And mine, too, but I didn't mention that.

She recoiled with an angry expression on her face and stalked off. Fortunately, she didn't bother to come back.

Unless, of course, she was reincarnated as the calculus student I had this year:
Professor Z,

Now that the last day to drop class to qualify for a enrollment fee refund has passed, I would like to check about something with you.

Since I won't be in town the whole semester, I will have to drop the class at some point. But, instead of dropping and getting a grade of "W", I would prefer to drop the class without a notation on my record by dropping by the early drop deadline if and only if I can continue attending the class afterward. Can you let me know whether I would be able to continue attending class if I drop by drop deadline to avoid getting a grade of "W"?

Clueless II
Oy. She's gaming the system and wants me to help. I'm afraid she's come to the wrong place:
The first thing I need to point out to you, Clueless, is that unenrolled students are not allowed to sit in on classes at a community college. While universities may choose to permit auditors, the rules governing community colleges forbid them. If you're not on the roster, you're not in the classroom.

My second point is about choosing to enroll in a class when you know you cannot finish it. I had a very long waiting list of students eager for the opportunity to take calculus. You signed up with the intention of dropping the class later, thus denying a spot to a student who could have stayed all semester. This does not please me and seems a poor use of educational resources at a time when we are experiencing severe shortages. My class is an actual college course, not a "rehearsal", and I caution you never to do this again.
History then repeated itself. The game-playing student went away and did not come back.


No comments: