This Grandfather Is As Unlucky As Uncle Ben

, , , , , , | Learning | October 3, 2019

I was a grad student at a university, acting as TA and tutor for a few sections of Calculus I. I gave quizzes over the course of the semester, always with a warning. My policy on missed quizzes was reasonable: I would drop your lowest quiz grade, so you could miss one quiz during the semester with no penalty, but you could only make up a quiz if you had an excuse — a doctor’s note or proof of some kind of conflict — otherwise, you got a zero.

I had a student who was a total slacker. He missed class all the time, turned in incomplete homework, etc. [Student] missed the first quiz of the semester. He emailed me after the next class to ask if he could make it up. I reminded him of the policy and asked if he had an excuse for missing the quiz. Nope, he’d just overslept. I told him that was fine; this could be the quiz he dropped for the semester.

A couple of weeks later, [Student] missed another quiz. He’d overslept again. Again, he asked to make it up. I reminded him of the policy and told him that he should maybe get a better alarm clock.

A couple of weeks after that, [Student] missed a third quiz. But this time, he had an excuse: his grandfather had died. I asked for proof and he sent me an online obituary. The last name matched, there was a mention of a grandson in college, and I wasn’t about to harass a grieving kid, so I told him he could make up the quiz. He did… and failed it. At that point, he decided to quit while he was behind and drop the class.

Fast forward to the next semester: [Student] signed up for Calculus I again. And he was in my section again. He started off better, showing up for class, passing the quizzes. Maybe he had turned over a new leaf!

Then, one day, the professor and I were talking about the midterm she had just given her Calculus I students. She said she had one student who walked out of the midterm for 20 minutes, and then came back and turned in an incomplete exam. She asked the kid what was up, and he said he was just really upset; he’d just found out his grandfather had died. I asked if the student was [Student]. When she said it was, I told her to get the name of the grandfather.

It turned out that [Student] had created a fake obituary for his grandfather and was using it regularly to get out of work in his classes. But the bonehead didn’t stop to consider that maybe the professor and I would talk about our students and realize he was playing us.

He dropped Calculus again, and I think he got kicked out of the university.

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Shattered That Claim

, , , , , , | Learning | October 2, 2019

One day, my dad’s class was given new rulers by the school to replace old wooden rulers. The old rulers had a problem with splinters, and may have had inches on them — Dad can’t really remember, as this was the 70s — whereas the new rulers were centimetres only. Perfectly valid reasons to replace the rulers. There was just one problem: the school made the mistake of choosing ones advertised as shatterproof, with the word featured prominently on the rulers themselves as if trying to invite the destructive curiosity it inevitably would.

Telling a room of teenagers, the intelligent and mischievous individuals that they are, that it’s impossible to do something has never been a good idea, nor will it ever be. No matter the generation, teenagers will put this sort of claim to the test, and that’s precisely what happened here. My dad and his classmates, taking the claim that these long, thin slabs of plastic were shatterproof as a challenge, started bending the rulers to just over a complete circle, forwards and backwards, to determine the claim’s truthfulness.

The rulers survived being bent forwards, but when they were bent backwards, the claim they were shatterproof failed the truthfulness test miserably. As a result of my dad’s class’s experiment, from what he tells me, shards of plastic shrapnel initially originating from the ridges flew all over the classroom, which was obviously far more dangerous than the splinters from the old wooden rulers. Only one ruler survived the mischief, and that was because it had been confiscated before its user could scatter its remains across the classroom by testing its structural soundness. Dad can’t remember since it was so long ago, but he suspects they went back to the wooden rulers until the not-so-shatterproof ones could be replaced.

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School Is Not The Happiest Place On Earth

, , , , , | Learning | October 1, 2019

(When I’m in the fourth grade, my parents decide to take my sister and me to Disney World. They elect to do so in the fall to avoid the crowds and the blistering heat. I inform my teacher of this, and he hands me a huge packet of all of the work — not just homework, but classwork, too — that I will be missing while I am gone. However, being a naive nine-year-old, I don’t think much of it, as I’m going to be busy on vacation. My parents know about the packet, but even they assume it’s a “go over this as you’re able” sort of affair. My mom is a meticulous planner and has every day at the parks planned down to the minute, so I don’t really have time to do anything other than sleep when we get back to the hotel. I do get a couple of bits and bobs done, and when I return to school I hand these in to my teacher.)

Teacher: “Where’s the rest of it?”

Me: “Um… I was on vacation. I didn’t have time to do all of it, but I will get it finished now that I’m home. It should only take–”

Teacher: “No, you were supposed to have this done for me when you came back!”

Me: “What?! You never said that! I was on vacation!”

Teacher: “It’s your responsibility to get your work done on time! I am very disappointed in you!”

(I’m the kind of kid who is never in trouble, so I’m already near tears as this is the first time a teacher has ever reprimanded me.)

Me: “I– I’m sorry! I thought–”

Teacher: “I don’t care what you thought! You are staying in for recess for one week, and you will work on this packet then!”

(And that’s how I got punished for going on vacation at nine years old. For the record, I finished the packet after three days of no recess, but he still made me stay inside for the full week. I do realize that the fact he gave me a packet should have been a hint, but I’d love to see his reaction if someone told him he’d better be writing lesson plans while he’s at Disney World!)

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If That Bothers Him, Wait Until He Hears What It Means For The Gays!

, , , , , , | Learning | September 29, 2019

(I am five or six years old and attending Sunday school. We are outside after a brief rain, being supervised by a husband and wife.)

Male Supervisor: *pointing at a rainbow in the distance* “So, kids, does anyone know what a rainbow is?”

(I excitedly raise my hand to answer, as I have just learned this from a science-themed kids show.)

Me: “A rainbow is caused by extra water in the air from the rain that makes a prism which refracts the sunlight!”

(The husband and wife make disgusted faces and share a look, before turning back to me.)

Male Supervisor: “No, a rainbow is God’s promise to never flood the earth again.”

Me: “Oh…”

(It wouldn’t have been so bad, except they decided to punish me, as well. I was made to stand in the corner for fifteen minutes for “spreading wrong thoughts.” I consider this my first push towards atheism.)

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Exams That Pull An All-Nighter

, , , , , , | Learning | September 28, 2019

This was some years ago. I was taking the AP exam toward the end of the day, when the fire alarm for the school went off. Who schedules a fire drill during college entrance exams? At any rate, we had to leave the building. It took so long to end the drill that by the time we got back, the amount of time allotted for the test had passed, and it was the end of the school day and we needed to go home.

But that meant we weren’t allowed to finish our exams. The Powers That Be decided that we would go home, promise not to do any studying, and pick up the test the next day.

The other schools in the district found out about this and protested. We had to sign affidavits saying we did not study overnight, did not communicate with anybody about the test, etc.

And when it was all over and done with, I got my score — a four — with an asterisk next to it:

*School reports a disturbance during examination.

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