Sunday, December 05, 2004

Masters of forgetting

I think I may have mentioned before how shaky my students' knowledge of geography is. I don't think I've commented on their spelling, but I can assure you it's just as shaky. Well, I've been marking homework all day, and came across a couple of short sentences which managed to combine shaky geography and shaky spelling, with extra shaky results:

U.S.A. has 'Statue of Liverty.' Australia has 'Ground Carion.'

That made me grin.

But what a depressing day it has been otherwise. Along with marking homework, I've been calculating grades so far for my classes at one university, and have confirmed that in three of my four first-year classes at least 30% of students are failing. I've been warning them since about the third week, but they don't take me seriously. What on earth do you do with students who, when you tell them the exact three questions that will be in the weekly test, 'forget' that there will be a test, even though there is a test every week, and fail it weekly? Who, when you explain how important it is that they do their homework, either don't do it or hand in identical homework to 12 of the other students in the class? Same multiple stupid mistakes and all? And this is after telling them that they are failing and that this homework is important if they want to pass. "I want to see evidence that you have made some effort, because I haven't seen much to grade you on yet," I told them. And when I collected the homework, I said, "This is very important. Is it your best work? You can have another week if you want. Are you happy with this? Because I'll grade it low if it is not good."

A couple of them hesitated, but then you could see them thinking they didn't want to do it again. Too much trouble appeared in little thought balloons above their heads. She won't notice anyway. They exchanged guilty glances and came to a decision. They assured me that this was their best effort. They laughed when I asked them if they were sure. "Remember, you could fail if your grade for this homework is not good," I said.

"No, no, it's fine!" they told me.

I don't think they believe that I'll really fail them. They probably think I'll do what most of their other teachers do - give full marks to the students who handed in the homework, and then throw the homework away without looking at it.

Perhaps they've forgotten that I failed eight or nine of them last semester. They seem to forget everything else, so that wouldn't be surprising.


tinyhands said...

Flunk 'em.

Badaunt said...

I will. I'm just not looking forward to the groveling, begging, and apologizing that will inevitably follow when I tell them. Perhaps I should start accepting bribes. It would be less disturbing.

tinyhands said...

Just post your Christmas list and have them do the shopping for you- kill two birds with one stone.

Badaunt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Badaunt said...

How do you think I got to be a Bad Aunt? (With a family as insanely fertile as mine this general slackness turned out to be a Good Thing.)