, , , , , | Learning | May 18, 2020

My freshman year in college, there is a foreign exchange student from Kenya also attending the school. After a while, the two of us strike up a little friendship and hang out from time to time. She tells me about Kenya, and I answer questions about the US.

One day, I notice she is looking a bit annoyed.

Me: “Is something wrong?”

Friend: “I have been trying to get people to stop calling me African-American. I am not American! I am Kenyan! I’d like it if people would just call me Kenyan. Or call me black. But not American!”

Me: “I can see how that would be annoying.”

Friend: “And today, someone called me African-American-African!”

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The Real-Life Cookie Monster

, , , , , | Learning | May 17, 2020

This happens during our first “remote learning” class meeting with our statistics teacher after the quarantine starts. She’s trying to explain how things are going to go when she’s interrupted by her six-year-old daughter. We can only hear our teacher’s side of the conversation.

Teacher: “What? No!” *Back to us* “Sorry, guys. [Daughter] wanted to have cookies for breakfast.”

Classmate: “Oh! I had cookies for breakfast!”


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This Professor Gets A Zero On Being Reasonable

, , , | Learning | May 15, 2020

During my junior year of college, I have a class taught by a professor who is pretty much universally hated because of his petty, super-strict grading policy. If you don’t write EXACTLY what he expects you to write — literally down to the letter — your answer is wrong. For example, if he expects you to write, “Gettysburg, Pennsylvania,” and you write, “Gettysburg, PA,” he marks it as a wrong answer.

After our midterm exam, the professor hands out our graded exams and asks if anyone has any questions about their grade.

Student #1: “You marked me as zero percent, even though I know I got these answers right.”

Professor: “Well, I suspect you cheated somehow, and per my syllabus and the school’s policies, any cheating is an automatic zero.”

Student #1: “But I didn’t cheat! How can you even say that?”

Professor: “I’ve told all of you before that the highest grade any student has ever received on this midterm is eighty percent, and the average is usually only sixty-five or seventy percent. You got a ninety-eight. That’s too high, and the only way you could have gotten it is by cheating.”

We all defend [Student #1] because, despite what the professor said, most of us were able to score in the eighties. It wasn’t a particularly difficult test at all; he just made it impossible to do better because of his strict grading.

Professor: “Enough of this! [Student #1], I could be reporting you to the [department] dean on suspicion of cheating. I felt that a zero score would be sufficient punishment, but if it’s not, I will be reporting you. Moving on.”

After class, a few of us who had extra time, including [Student #1], went to the department dean’s office to ask him what we could do about the situation. The dean offered to grade [Student #1]’s exam himself and said that, based on his grading, the ninety-eight percent was entirely accurate. He agreed to speak to the professor about it.

While we don’t know what happened in their discussion, the professor’s grading became much more lenient for the rest of the semester, though many students suspected that the dean had actually taken over grading the exams instead of trusting the professor to do his own grading. 

At the end of the semester, it was announced that the professor would be taking an indefinite sabbatical. To my knowledge, he has not yet returned to the school, and it’s been five years since then.

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You Can’t Even Escape Essays In Physical Education!

, , , | Learning | May 13, 2020

Due to an ongoing sickness, I miss more than half of the whole year’s PE classes. While I am obviously excused and not written down for skipping class or anything, my teacher still pulls me aside a few weeks before we get our final marks.

Teacher: “Listen. With the little time you’ve been in class, I can’t properly grade you. The school requires a certain amount of participation in class, and we don’t have homework or exams to get points in PE, either, so right now you’re at about 20%. That’s a failing grade.”

Me: “Uh, okay. Is there any other way I can make up points for missing class?”

Teacher: “I really can’t think of anything sensible. All I can do is give you a topic to write a paper on, and enter it as participation into the system.”

Me: “I can do that; I like writing papers. What topic?”

Teacher: “Uh, volleyball.”

Me: “Just… volleyball?”

Teacher: “Yeah.”

Me: “Like, the history of it? Professional volleyball? What?”

Teacher: “Just volleyball.”

Me: “You mean how to play?”

Teacher: “Yes, sure, let’s do that.”

I wrote a five-page paper about How To Play Volleyball, which meant I basically copy-pasted the rules of volleyball and drew some diagrams of the field and player positions. My teacher loved it and actually used it as a guideline in future classes doing volleyball.

The year after, I missed most of PE again because of my sickness, and I was given yet another topic to do a paper on — basketball this time. Rinse and repeat for my entire high school career. No one at the school ever thought about maybe excusing me from PE entirely, since it was a required class and there was no option for me to have any other class as a replacement.

I ended up graduating with a rather mediocre but acceptable grade in PE, having barely done any sports at all. I kind of feel like the school’s grading system never considered how to actually grade physical classes.

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And The Feminist Movement Slid Back A Few Decades

, , , , | Learning | May 11, 2020

I went to an all-girls high school. One day, when I was fourteen or fifteen, we had a hired job counselor come and hold a presentation on possible careers. It bored all of us to tears.

But the worst part was that at one point, the counselor suddenly stopped, looked around, apparently realised that we were all female, and said this gem:

“Oh, you’re all girls. You don’t need to plan for a long career; you’ll all get married and have children.”

I walked out.

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