Not The Perfect Way Of Announcing Perfection

, , , , , | | Learning | May 23, 2019

Chemistry Teacher: “I believe that if all my students fail an exam, it is my fault. I have obviously not taught the course well enough, and I won’t punish you for my mistakes. Thus, I grade on a curve. For example, say the highest score was 80/100. I will add 20 points to everyone’s scores. If the highest score is 99/100, I will add 1 point to everyone’s score. Does everyone understand this?”

Students: *all nodding*

Chemistry Teacher: “For our first exam of the year, I thought I had made a mistake. So many of you had failed! But I now see that you weren’t paying attention. [My Name] was able to get a perfect score on the exam. There’s no excuse for the rest of you. I’m so disappointed. This is one of eight exams for this semester. In other words, about 10% of your overall grade. Do better next time. [My Name], congratulations.”

(She handed me the test as I shrunk into my seat. The whole class was glaring at me. That was not a fun course.)

The Test Is Testing Way Before The Test

, , , , , | | Learning | May 8, 2019

(I’m teaching a high-school government class. As with most teachers, I have a few students who can be stubborn about doing their work, but one especially stubborn girl drives me crazy. This is just one occasion. On Thursday:)

Me: “The test will be tomorrow. For today, we’re going to play a review game to make sure everyone knows the material. You can take notes during the review game, and use those notes on the test. You cannot use your textbook or your regular notes.”

Stubborn Girl: “Why does the test have to be on Friday? Fridays are the worst day for tests. Can’t you change it?”

Me: “Nope. We have to keep to the schedule set by the school.”

Stubborn Girl: “Can we at least use our notes on the test?”

Me: “You can use the notes you take during the review game today, but not the notes you took during the unit.”

Stubborn Girl: “What about our textbook?”

Me: “Nope. Just take notes during the review game, and you’ll have all the answers for the test.”

Stubborn Girl: *trying to be sarcastic* “What if I just write down everything you say today and use that, huh?”

Me: “Perfect! That’s exactly what I want you to do! Let’s start the review game.”

(We play the review game. Naturally, [Stubborn Girl] refuses to take notes. On Friday:)

Me: “Okay, let’s get this test started.”

Stubborn Girl: “You should change the test to Monday so we can study over the weekend.”

Me: “I told you, I can’t do that. Do you have your notes from the review game yesterday?”

Stubborn Girl: “No, because you said we couldn’t use our notes for the test!”

Me: “I said you can’t use your regular notes from the unit, but your review game notes were okay.”

Stubborn Girl: “Well, I didn’t take notes because you said we couldn’t use our notes. Whatever. I guess I’ll just fail the test, then.”

(I had to bite my tongue really hard to keep from making any remarks that might cause her to complain to the principal about me. Not surprisingly, she did fail the test, as well as the class. As a teacher, I obviously don’t like it when students fail my classes, but this girl failing didn’t bother me at all.)

Stupidity Is Esca-latin

, , , , , , , | | Learning | May 1, 2019

This story is from the 1990s, back when I was at university. Certain exams went like this: there would be a few people at a time in a professor’s study, each would draw a ticket from a tray and had to speak about whatever was on the ticket. One person would be speaking, while the others jotted down notes on their own topics, organized their thoughts, or otherwise prepared for their turn.

This particular exam was in general linguistics and was taught by a guy everyone feared, because it was common knowledge he failed people for the tiniest mistakes, took his subject extremely seriously, and expected the same from everyone else. He was also a bit of a giant, physically; he was very tall and bulky, had a permanent stony expression, and spoke with the coldest voice all the time, and was generally quite intimidating.

In his exam, each ticket also contained a couple of languages we were supposed to say a few words about. I was in the study, busy writing down notes on whatever I drew from the tray and waiting my turn, while a girl started speaking about the first language in her ticket, which happened to be Latin.

“So, Latin… Well, obviously it is spoken in Latin America…”

The professor went bright red, leaned over the desk, and basically — the huge mountain of a man that he is — loomed over her like he was going to drop on her and squash her at any moment. Or explode. I mean, I could see him literally shaking as he yelled, “What?!

She wasn’t even allowed to start on her topics; he ordered her to leave immediately and wouldn’t hear another word from her. He calmed down a bit after she left, and to be honest, he was completely fair with the rest of us that day, and I passed with top marks. The story about the girl with “Latin in Latin America” is now told as part of the local academic “dumbest things students have said” folklore, and some people think it’s made up until I mention that I actually witnessed it.

Not Overdoing The Oversleeping Excuse

, , , , , , | Learning | February 25, 2019

(This story was relayed to me by my boyfriend. He missed a test and has gone to his professor to ask if he can make it up, though he knows this professor is very strict.)

Professor: “Uh-huh… and why did you miss this test?”

Boyfriend: “I overslept.”

Professor: “Sure, you… Wait. What?”

Boyfriend: “Yeah, I overslept and missed it.”

Professor: “I… you… You know what? Sure.”

Boyfriend: “Really?”

Professor: “Yeah. You know why? Because you told the truth. You didn’t make up some story; you accepted guilt for missing the test. I have so many students come up here and give me wild stories for why they were absent, but no one, no one ever ‘just overslept.’ So, you get a make up, just this once.”

(At this he turns to the rest of the class.)


(My boyfriend did really well on the makeup test!)

Testing Out The Hiding Places

, , , , | Learning | August 3, 2018

(In France, teachers grade on a scale of 0 to 20, on which 0 is the worst grade, and 20 is the best. One day I get a nine in English. Upset with this score, I hide my test in my desk, under my textbooks. Several years after, my mother wants to replace my desk and finds my test.)

Mother: “[My Name]?”

Me: “Yes?”

Mother: *laughing* “Why did you hide such a good grade?”

(I looked at my test. My grade was nine… out of ten! I had forgotten that my teacher preferred to give two little tests in the same week on scale of 0 to 10, rather than a big test graded on the scale 0 to 20. I had let that bug me for years!)

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