Monday, December 10, 2007

Student Guilt Trips

It's the end of the semester and this student (a senior in a class of 15 underclassmen) only ever came to see me twice during the semester- both times *after* receiving his papers with grades he did not like (one a B, the other a B-).

In an e-mail sent this evening- a full 3 days after the final paper was due, and 4 days after I returned his paper on PL, which was a grown-up but hardly sophisticated summary of Book IV and which I knowingly inflated from the C it was to a genial B minus, quoth the Student:

"Dr. Muse-
I probably don't need to tell you that I am again disappointed with my paper writing. It's frustrating that I'm doing poorly in the type of class in which I typically thrive, but that happens I guess. I'm sure you have as little free time as I do at this point in the semester and I know that you already have two papers of mine to grade, but I figured I would at least ask if I should try to rewrite this Paradise Lost paper for a better grade or if it's too late and I need to just eat the B-. If there is anything I can do to try and improve my grade in the class, I would be happy to do it, as a poor grade in a class I took just out of interest will certainly raise questions on graduate school applications. Either way, thanks for an enjoyable class and have a good break-

My initial response:

"Are you trying to make me feel guilty for giving you a B in an intro-level English course and thus poisoning your grad school applications? Give it a f***king break!"

My second response:

"Yeah, you can rake my yard and give my cat a bath. And when you're done you can give me $500 for a ticket to Montreal."

I know, I know, I'm a meanie. But only in my imagination and on this blog.

In the end, I wrote him a kind, sympathetic e-mail telling him that yes, it was too late for a revision, that I still had his final paper and his revised other paper to mark, and that I'd be happy to sit down with him next semester and discuss where and how he could improve his argumentation.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Obsession: German Botanical Charts

I covet these charts. They are affordable at 16 euros unmounted (mounted classroom use they are 40-60 euros), gorgeous and would look great framed. I'm especially attracted to the black background. I already have two wonderful lecons des choses that a dear family friend brought me back from Deyrolle in Paris- Tea and Sugar charts. But now I want more and I want these German botanicals.

Jung, Koch and Quentell Charts online

Hannukah Ham

According to Jewish humor site, this is an actual advertisement in the window of the Manhattan gourmet institution, Balducci's. I can't decide whether it's an intentional joke or not.