Monday, February 16, 2009

Head, meet desk

So I assign these short papers in one of my classes. (NOT my choice; this is the "forced syllabus" class where, because the administration wants cookie-cutter teaching but also wants to be able to brag on small individualized classes, we have to follow a common series of assignments, etc.)

The first one, I grudgingly permitted e-mail submissions because bad weather closed campus for the due date and some of the students are only on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So when I assigned the second one, I made a big announcement: I DO NOT WANT E-MAILED PAPERS THIS TIME.

Why? Several reasons:

1. Many students use "weird" word-processing programs, ones that won't talk to Word. So I have to go through hoops to convert the paper into something Word can read, or open it up in ugly old Wordpad and hope the formatting comes through.

2. Our e-mail system has become unreliable for some reason. I have not gotten e-mails that I KNOW were sent to me.

3. Because of (2) I feel I MUST e-mail each student back with a note letting them know (a) I received the paper and (b) I was able to print it out

4. I have to print the papers. Some of which, the students never bother to put their names on, so if I do a bunch, I have to hunt back through the e-mails to see whose paper belongs to whom. Then I have to staple them so I don't lose pages.

And it's just more work for me. I tend to think I have the right, as the professor, to expect a finished, printed, stapled, ready-for-me-to-grade copy - there are 30 students in the class and one of me, so it's easier for each of them to do one thing once than it is for me to do it 30 times. (Though they might disagree).

So, I make the announcement: NO E-MAILED PAPERS FROM NOW ON.

And what do I get? About 1/3 of the papers sent to me via e-mail. Most of them came by the due date, which was last Tuesday.

But what do I get today, late in the afternoon? A missing paper! In my e-mail! From a student! Who says, "I'm sorry this is late but I really do enjoy writing these."

Okay, Princess. Let me tell you something. When you do something that is doubly contravening the rules I have set up for the class by e-mailing me the paper AND e-mailing it nearly a WEEK late, saying you "enjoy" doing them is only going to make me madder. And I had another person pull a similar stunt on me - at least she handed in a paper copy. But she said, "Writing is, like, you know, my THING."

The paper sucked. I almost wept as I read it.

This is why I NEVER claim to possess ANY ability at ANYthing. I would rather downplay whatever ability I have and have people SEE that I am good at whatever I may be good at, then go around telling people how GREAT I am, and then having them look at it and go, "This is not what I expected for someone who claimed this was their THING.

And, oh crap, I realize I have to assign the NEXT paper tomorrow. It never ends. It really never ends.

I think I'm going to go ahead and grade Princess' paper but now lay down the law and tell them that (a) e-mail submissions will NOT be considered unless they are demonstrably being held hostage, in the hospital giving birth or donating a kidney, or trapped at home by wild rhinos on the day that the paper is due and (b) LATE PAPERS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

(And yet, I know there will be someone who will INSIST they heard that as "LATE PAPERS WILL **NOW** BE ACCEPTED")

Really, when did following directions become a lost art?


The Fifth String said...

I don't know when following directions became a lost art but I know it wasn't recently.

Kate P said...

What? I'd be banging my head like Don Music on the piano on Sesame Street.

My former boss demanded we write procedures for everything--heck, I even did some extra ones to help people out--and people would NOT refer to them, EVER.

When is "I didn't know" not going to be tolerated as an excuse anymore?

nightfly said...

Wait until someone tries to text you a paper, 600 characters at a time. It's coming.

But she said, "Writing is, like, you know, my THING."
The paper sucked. I almost wept as I read it.

Now THAT'S funny. (Not your pain, but your reaction.)

w/v - dalcho - Portuguese slang for "idiot who turns in unformatted, late papers." Considered pejorative.