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Stories from school and college

Thoze Leters Dont Ad Upp

, , , , , , , | Learning | October 22, 2021

I once had a math professor who was very invested in the “whole package” philosophy of teaching — so much so that his students were required to write essays and give presentations on things related to math, and we were strictly graded on things like punctuation and grammar, not just content. Many of us learned to be very careful and double- and triple-check anything we turned in because we didn’t want to have points taken off. We would often trade papers for proofreading if it wasn’t an exam situation.

One day, I was taking one of this professor’s exams and noticed a misspelling in a word problem. He had misspelled balloon as ‘baloon,’ and because our exam was handwritten on mimeograph paper and not printed from a word processor, there was no spell check to save him. Because I was hyper-aware of those types of mistakes in his class, I reflexively circled the misspelling while reading the problem and continued on with the exam.

To his credit, when returning the exams to us, he confessed that he had indeed made a spelling error on the exam and that he felt it was only fair that he award extra credit to everyone who pointed it out. It turned out that more than half the class had done as I had and marked the misspelling because he had instilled that attention to detail into us so thoroughly.

The Fact That It Tells Time Is Just A Side Perk

, , , , | Learning | October 20, 2021

I’m taking my GCSEs (General Certificates of Secondary Education). My school, being the run-down and underfunded place it is, apparently doesn’t have the budget to fix the clocks in the exam hall, so we’re all encouraged to bring watches into the exam hall to help us keep track of time. I borrow my dad’s old watch and bring it to my exams.

Once the first exam is over, my class and I head down to the canteen where we kill some time before the next exam. [Classmate] notices my watch and asks to see it.

I hand it over and make small talk with a few other classmates. Suddenly, [Classmate] exclaims.

Classmate: “Dude! This is an [Expensive Brand] watch! It’s worth like, four or five grand. At least!”

The entire class gasps.

Me: *Shrugs* “My mom gave that to my dad as a wedding gift. He retired it when he got his new smartwatch last year, so I got it.”

Classmate: *Offended* “He retired it? You don’t retire an [Expensive Brand] watch for a mere smartwatch. That’s like using a Bible as toilet paper!”

He shakes his head in disgust. I take my watch back.

Classmate: “Dude, why are you bringing this to school?”

Me: “Uh, why wouldn’t I? It’s a watch. It tells the time.”

Classmate: *Deeply offended* “What type of savage are you? That’s not how you treat an [Expensive Brand] watch!”

Me: “Then please explain to me why you would buy a watch like this.”

Classmate: “To look good at parties and business meetings! To show everyone that you are rich and successful! It’s a status symbol!”

Me: “So, basically, jewellery.”

Classmate: “Now you get it! Telling the time.” *Scoffs* “Utterly ridiculous. Who actually buys watches for that?”

A Riveting Historical Account

, , , , , | Learning | October 18, 2021

This story happened to my wife when she was taking an oral exam at university. The subject in question was the early modern period — about 1450 to 1800. The professor in question was a kindly old man, the gentle grandfather type. The setting in question was a stuffy room in a concrete brutalist building on a warm day in June.

My wife had to give an overview of the English monarchy in the early modern period, which is a pretty daunting question. She started with the Wars of the Roses, Henry VIII, etc. Meanwhile, the professor was listening with his eyes closed, nodding and murmuring agreement.

After my wife got to the English Civil War, she was struggling to recount more and ended her answer by telling the professor that this was about all she knew, silently hoping it would be enough to pass the exam. To her horror, there came no reply from the other side of the desk, only an old professor with his eyes closed, silent.

She coughed and got a soft snoring sound as a reply. She turned around to the other students in the room that were preparing their exams, but all the help she got was some muffled laughs.

My wife coughed again and scraped her chair across the floor until the old guy opened his eyes, saying, “Yes, miss, what you told me about the House of Hannover is correct.” My wife said her goodbyes and left the room, baffled.

She passed her exam, so whatever she was saying until the professor fell asleep made enough sense that he finished replying to his own question in his head.

Group Projects Can Be A Roller Coaster

, , , , | Learning | October 16, 2021

At my high school, all juniors — sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds for non-Americans — have to take Physics. Both the honors and regular courses have the exact same final project: build a working model roller coaster and do your best to “sell it” to your classmates during your presentation.

For this project, we are supposed to make our own groups of either three or four people. No more, no less. Of course, I immediately partner up with the one close friend I have in my class period, but we still need a third. That third ends up being a girl we are somewhat acquainted with that no one else seems to want in their group. This should be our first red flag regarding her, but we don’t have a choice regardless.

Initially, things go fairly well as we’re given class time here and there to plan out our schematic and theme. It’s at this point that we get our second red flag: we both notice that our third member isn’t super engaged. This is especially true with the math-based parts of the schematic that we have to include as part of our grade, but we shrug it off because the two of us are doing well in the class and it isn’t especially hard.

Fast forward until about two weeks before everything is due. We start planning out-of-school meetings to gather supplies and start building. After we section off who’s buying what, we struggle to figure out where we can meet that’ll have the room we need.

Groupmate: “Hey, maybe I can ask my Grandma if we can go to hers on Saturday? She lives just around the corner from here.”

Friend: “Works for me.”

Me: “Yeah, same.”

However, that Friday evening, she shoots us a text.

Groupmate: “Sorry, my gram’s in the hospital and we’ll all be there with her all day tomorrow so we can’t meet.”

Me: “Oh, heck. That’s fine. Hope she’s all right!”

I immediately call my friend because we can really only meet on weekends due to conflicting extracurriculars, and we only have two of those weekends left. After she manages to pull some strings to get a back room reserved for us at her family’s church, we ultimately decide to just bite the bullet and have the two of us meet anyway to at least start on the model.

While we’re building up our base, we take a small break and my friend checks her phone. After a few minutes, she starts scowling before turning to me.

Friend: “Holy s***, [My Name], check [Groupmate]’s Snapchat story.”

Apparently, our groupmate forgot she had us both added on social media because she has posted several pictures of her looking as happy as can be in a brand new car that was apparently a belated birthday present from her parents. Of course, we’re both fuming, but there isn’t much we can do at this point. 

We eventually decide to just work through the day to get as much of the model done as possible. We debate having our third member create the presentation on her own time, but we decide it isn’t worth the risk since we know she has pretty abysmal knowledge of what we are doing at this point.

Monday morning, the two of us hunt down our Physics teacher. We both explain to her what’s going on and show her both the text our groupmate sent, as well as the proof of what she was actually up to that day. 

Teacher: “Hm, unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do right now. Y’all aren’t finished with your coaster yet, right?”

Me: “No, we were going to try and finish it up Friday, and we still have the whole presentation to make.”

Teacher: “Okay, let me know if she doesn’t help out then. We’re also going to do group member evaluations after presentations are over, so make sure you’re both honest on those and I’ll keep them in mind when grading. I’ll make sure you two don’t suffer if she doesn’t end up doing anything because I absolutely remember exactly how crappy that felt when I was in school.”

And, what do you know, she ends up flaking on us again by not only completely ignoring our texts but also by not even coming to school Friday. We end up finishing the project on our own that evening.

Friend: “I’m going to be honest: I hope she skips again the day we present. She’s going to ruin the whole f****** presentation if she has to do it with us.”

Me: “No kidding. She literally doesn’t know s***. I might actually ask [Teacher] about that if she does show up.”

The day finally came to present and we did just that. We were informed that our third member would, unfortunately, have to present with us; however, by the grace of the gods, she did end up skipping that day, probably knowing just how screwed she’d be if she did show up. 

Despite our two-man show, we ended up not only killing our presentation but also winning the first round of voting for the competition the Physics teachers set up for bonus points. We were also brutally honest on our group member evaluations about our third member. When it was all said and done, my friend and I got scores in the high nineties. Neither of us know exactly what score the other girl ended up getting, but we did find out later from a mutual friend that she failed the class and had to go to credit recovery that following summer.

This Professor Should Consider A Profession That Doesn’t Involve People

, , , , | Learning | October 14, 2021

I’m in an engineering class in college. The professor is not well-liked by the students or other staff, mainly because he’s lazy and rude. He once listed all the work that needed to be done on the syllabus but nothing was due until the last week of class. Two weeks before the end of the semester, he announced that there was no possible way he could grade all of the work before grades needed to be submitted, so he changed the final project to a ten-minute presentation detailing what we learned from the entire semester. Mind you, there were essays, other projects, and other homework listed in the syllabus that most of us had done and were waiting to submit. All of that work was now not needed and had been replaced by a ten-minute presentation. The procrastinators were ecstatic, but those of us who had actually done the work were pissed. All that work we had done was now worth NOTHING! We all passed with flying colors just by copy and pasting the syllabus objectives and BSing the rest of the presentation.

Another time, the entire class was gathered around the work table. One of my classmates just happened to be a woman who was eight and a half months pregnant, and it was obvious that this was the case. The professor was talking and paused, presumably to invite someone to answer. She began to speak when he held up a finger and stuck it in her face. 

Professor: “Hold on, I was having a pregnant pause.”