Can’t Get A Reading On Their Questions

| MN, USA | Learning | April 8, 2017

(Unfortunately, this happens at least once a quarter. Today, I returned draft papers to students electronically. They are required to turn in drafts. I give comments, but not grades, on drafts. Later in the day, I got a phone call.)

Me: “Hello.”

Student: “Hi, this is [Student].”

Me: “Hi, [Student], how can I help you?”

Student: “I wanted to know about the feedback on my paper.”

Me: “Okay.”

Student: “…”

Me: “Uh… can you tell me what questions you have?”

Student: “What are your suggestions?”

(This goes on a bit, as I slowly figure out that the student saw that I returned comments, but did not read them.)

Me: “Have you read the paper I returned to you?”

Student: “No, that’s why I’m calling.”

Me: “I’m happy to answer specific questions on my comments.”

Student: “Okay, I opened the document. The first comment says…” *begins to read my own comment to me*

Me: “Hey, [Student], I think the best use of our time is for you to read the comments on your own and see which ones you have questions on.”

Student: “Really?”

Me: “Yes. Feel free to call me once you have read through it.”

Student: “I didn’t understand the instructions. That’s why I didn’t do a good job.”

Me: “Going forward, make sure to let me know when you are having trouble.”

Student: “But, the instructions weren’t clear.”

Me: “What questions do you have about the instructions?”

Student: “They weren’t clear?”

Me: “In what way?”

Student: “Those aren’t helpful either. They are too vague. The instructions said to use APA style. I did that. I don’t understand what I did wrong.”

(APA is mentioned, but it is literally the last line in the instructions. I get the feeling that he has opened the instructions and is trying to find something to cling to.)

Me: “You can also check out the examples on the course website.”

Student: “Those are not clear either.”

Me: “Feel free to call me back once you have read my comments.”

Student: “So, I have to read your comments and revise?”

Me: “You can leave the paper as is for final grading. There’s no requirement to make changes.”

Student: “I’ll work on it.”

Hammering Home Your Driving Style

| CO, USA | Learning | April 8, 2017

(This is in a differential equations course.)

Professor: So, for example, if an engineer wants to know how the suspension will respond to different scenarios, it is pretty easy to find the response to hitting the suspension with a hammer.”

(The professor writes a sample differential equation to demonstrate this calculation.)

Professor: “However, the engineer probably cares more about how the suspension responds to other scenarios, such as a speed bump, since you aren’t hitting your suspension with a hammer while you are driv—”

Student: *yelling from back* “Don’t tell me how to drive!”

Can’t Cope In The Digit-al World

| UK | Right | April 8, 2017

(I am working on the switchboard. I’ve just taken a call from a lady who has asked me for the number of another organisation, not related to our college. I explain that we do not have anything to do with the other organisation but offer to look up their number for her online. I find the number and start to read it out.)

Me: “Okay, the number is 0300…”

Caller: “Slowly please!”

Me: “I’m sorry, madam.” *pause* “So the number is 03…”

Caller: “0… yes?”

Me: “3.”

Caller: “3… yes?”

Me: “00.”

Caller: “Yes, I have the 0, what is next?!”

Me: “I’ll start again madam. The number is 03…”

Caller: “Yes, I have that! What is the next number?!?”

Me: “The next number is 0.”

Caller: “So 030?”

Me: “That’s correct. Then it is another 0…”

Caller: “I already have the 0!”

Me: “Yes, madam, but there is another 0.”

Caller: “So 0300?”

Me: “That’s right. Then there is another 3…”

Caller: “I already have the 3!”

Me: “Madam, would it help if I start the number again?”

Caller: “Yes!”

Me: “Okay… so the number is 0…”

Caller: “I ALREADY HAVE THE 0! You are speaking too fast for me!”

Me: “Madam, I am reading the number one digit at a time. I cannot possibly speak any slower.”

Should Have Been Verb-ally Discouraged

| UT, USA | Learning | April 5, 2017

(This takes place in an advanced linguistics class that is part of a three-semester program with a heavy emphasis on English language and literature. During an exam review about halfway through the second semester of the program, one of my classmates expresses her frustration.)

Classmate: “ARGH! How am I supposed to understand this? I don’t even know what a verb IS!”

(The reason she was taking this course and this program? She wanted to be an English teacher.)


| USA | Learning | April 5, 2017

(It’s the first day of a beginning Japanese class. The professor’s first language is Japanese, and she’s just moved to the US from Japan, where she previously taught English.)

Professor: “Okay, class, what are the vowels in English?”

Class: “A, E, I, O, and U.”

Professor: “And sometimes?”

Class: “Y.”

Professor: “And sometimes?”

Class: “…”

Professor: “…”

(The professor is still looking at us expectantly, but we have no idea what she’s talking about. We all glance around at each other in complete confusion. Eventually, the professor figures out she’s not going to get an answer.)

Professor: “And sometimes W.”

Student #1: “Uh, what?”

Student #2: “Yeah, since when is W a vowel?”

Professor: “Hmm? In Japan, they teach that W is a vowel in English.”

Student #1: “I’ve literally never heard of that.”

Student #3: “Maybe it is in Welsh or something…”

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