I Came, I Saw, I Stupid

, , , , , | Learning | November 5, 2017

(My advanced-placement world history class is talking about the classical empires, and my teacher has started talking about Julius Caesar.)

Teacher: “Because of Julius Caesar, and his impact on the Roman Empire…”

Student #1: “Wait, what? Julius Caesar was a real person? I thought he was made-up!”

Student #2: “Yeah! I thought Shakespeare just made him up! He was real?”

Teacher: *sighing* Yes, [Students], he was a real person.”

Intuit An Inuit

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 4, 2017

(We’re in a class about software development.)

Professor: “…and a good thing about software is that, although it can be easier if you have professional software, you don’t really need it. Anyone who has a computer can write a program. I was surprised to learn that something I’d been using was developed in the North Pole.”

Student: *joking* “With the penguins?”

Professor: “Yes! And it was probably one of them who wrote it.”

Student: “…A penguin?”

Professor: “Sure. They’re not primitive, you know. They have modern houses, computers, and everything.”

Student: “The penguins?

Professor: “Wait, isn’t that what the native people in the North Pole are called?”

Student: “Eskimos.”

Will Weather Through That Bad Grade

, , , , , , | Learning | November 3, 2017

(I am a graduate student at [University #1]. As part of my graduate coursework, I have to take a departmental seminar on how to make presentations of your research. I choose to present about a project I did as an undergraduate at [University #2]. For the project, I collected storm water runoff from roads, so I could only collect water when it was raining exceptionally hard. Because of this, I was only able to collect water on three days. I know that the project isn’t perfect, since I only had one summer to do it and $500 to spend on it. For reference, most graduate projects get tens of thousands of dollars in funding. But it is all I have to present on, because my graduate work isn’t done yet. It’s useful to note that the professor who moderates the presentation class has a reputation for being unreasonable and a bit of a show-off, and I don’t stand for it. At the end of my presentation, he goes on a rant that culminates in this exchange.)

Professor: “I just can’t believe you thought this was science. I mean, I’ve never seen a study with only three data points. Why didn’t you collect more data?”

Me: “Sorry, but the magic weather machine that makes it rain was booked up by a different department for the summer.”

(I got a C.)

Must Not Have Passed Their OWLs

, , , , , | Learning | November 2, 2017

(Someone has written graffiti on the door and [Teacher #1] has just arrived to see it.)

Teacher #1: “I don’t suppose we know who it was?”

Teacher #2: “[Student] told me it must have been someone evil, like a Death Eater or something.”

Teacher #1: “Hmm… You’d have thought evil forces could at least spell correctly.”

An Open-Book And Closed Case

, , , , , , | Learning | November 2, 2017

(Students have just gotten their first tests back from me in one of my computer programming classes. If I had to place the difficulty of my tests on a 10-scale, compared to tests I took myself when I was in school, I’d rate them about a 7 or 8 in difficulty. The grades on this test are decent and I’m pleased with them, but I see a few discouraged looks. I acknowledge one student:)

Student #1: “This test seemed a bit hard.”

Me: “Yes, I agree; it covered a lot. But remember, I do grade on a curve and I don’t think anyone did worse than a C.”

Student #2: “Why is it open-book? Could there be another format?”

(I can tell that [Student #2] is wishing for memorize-and-regurgitate tests, which are arguably easy for people with good memories.)

Me: “I consider this a practical course, not a theoretical one. I think it’s more important that you grasp the concepts involved than memorize the minutia.” *I pause to think* “I suppose I could give a take-home test.”

(The whole class pauses to take this in. After a moment there is a lot of head-shaking from the class.)

Student #2: *in a slight panic* “No, no! That’s okay. Open book is fine.”

(He was probably wise. I’m thinking now what I’d put on a take-home test for programming. Definitely would have rated a 10.)

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