They’ll Be Lucky To Get A C-Minus-Minus

, , , , , , | Learning | January 17, 2018

(I work as a freelance tutor. Most of my students are at the local community college. On this day, I am meeting a student in the early afternoon, but I’ve arrived early and am eating lunch in the cafeteria. A student I’ve worked with before sits down at my table.)

Student: “Hey, [My Name]! What are you up to?”

(I’m a little suspicious, since we don’t know each other well and I’ve never liked her. She’s very demanding, tends to whine rather than even try to do her work, and doesn’t always pay me. But I figure I should be polite.)

Me: “I’m meeting a student after lunch. What have you been up to?”

Student: “Well, actually, I have a C programming project that’s giving me trouble.”

(C programming is my best subject, and I’ve tutored her in it before. I assume she failed and is retaking the class.)

Student: “It would be great if you could take a look!” *gives me puppy-dog eyes*

Me: “Okay, when is it due?”

Student: “Tonight!”

Me: “Well, I have a student I’m supposed to meet, but she tends to run late. You can come with me to the room where we’re meeting, and I’ll help you until she shows up, all right?”

Student: “Okay!”

(We go to the classroom and the student turns on the computer.)

Me: “First, can you bring up the class and show me the assignment, so I know what you’re trying to do?”

(She opens the assignment on the computer and shows it to me.)

Me: “I thought you said you were taking C programming? This is C++.”

Student: “Oh, yeah. I guess it is C++.”

Me: “Well, I can Google the shortcuts that I don’t know; it’ll just take a little longer. Can you show me what you’ve done so far?”

Student: *blank stare, not even guilty or scared, just uncomprehending*

Me: “Have you started this assignment?”

Student: “No.”

(We start the assignment from scratch, and I am able to Google what I need, but the student is being uncooperative as usual. Whenever I ask her a question, whether it’s about course material, how she would start to solve a problem, or even basic knowledge like how many days are in a year, she just gives me a blank look and says she doesn’t know. Finally, when we’re about halfway done…)

Me: “Look, this isn’t something you would have memorized in class. You just need to think about it for a second.”

Student: “I shouldn’t have to put up with this! I’m really trying and you just give me this attitude all the time!”

Me: “Let’s review. This program was assigned to you a week ago. You have done no work on it. You have made no effort to get help; it was pure dumb luck you ran into me in the cafeteria. You don’t even know the name of the class you’re taking. I agreed to work you, cutting my lunch short, on zero notice, and to help you write a program from scratch in a language I haven’t even taken a class in, knowing the odds are only about 50-50 that you’re even planning to pay me. I’ve sat here for the last half hour doing far more of the work than I should have, while you have refused to make any effort whatsoever. You know what? You’re absolutely right. You shouldn’t have to put up with that.”

(I packed up my stuff and walked out without another word as she tried to backpedal. Don’t worry about my original student; I texted and arranged to meet her in another room. The next day I mentioned the incident to one of the computer science professors, and his only comment was, “She got halfway through that program?”)

Got Themselves In Your Bad Books

, , , , , , | Learning | January 8, 2018

(I work in my university’s bookshop. A student comes in and asks for a book for his course.)

Me: “Sorry, we’ve sold out. We get a new stock in every Monday, so if you come in first thing you should be able to get one.”

Student: “I can see one on the shelf behind the counter. Give me that one.”

Me: “Actually, that one is mine. I bought it last Monday when they first came in.”

Student: “You don’t need that. I do. Give it to me.”

Me: “What makes you think I don’t need it?”

Student: “Because you’re just a shop assistant. You don’t even have the qualifications needed to apply for [University], and [Course] is much too hard for you.”

Me: “Hmm, I see you weren’t at the pre-lecture meet-up.”

Student: “What? Yes, I was. How would you know?”

Me: “Because if you had been there, you would know that I’m the seminar tutor for [Course].”

(He looked at me like I’m nuts and left. Our first seminar was the day after, and I made an extra special effort to stress that the bookshop gets new stock every MONDAY. [Student] kept his head down for the entire seminar. I figure he got his books elsewhere from then on, because I’ve yet to see him in the shop since.)

A Question Mark Against Your Tutorial

, , , , | Learning | December 21, 2017

(I’m a first-year college student. In my subject, it is mandatory to attend tutorials for some classes. We also have to do regular homework and need to pass a certain percentage of it to pass the class. The tutors act as a go-between for students and professors and are encouraged to provide feedback to the latter. They also try to answer any question the new students have about formalities, etc. In some cases, though, they can’t do more than try.)

Tutor: “…and did you feel the lecture yesterday was easy to understand?”

Student #1: “I would actually have loved a more in-depth explanation of [complex process].”

Tutor: *notes it down* “Okay, I will tell her. So, about the homework—”

Student #2: “Yes, it’s weird; you have a different question in #4 than I have here.”

Tutor: “Really? There must have been an update I don’t know about; we tutors should usually be sent the most current version. And we are supposed to get it a few days early so we can prepare the tutorium.” *she sounds frustrated, since this is a repeat issue, and takes another note*

Student #3: “Er, so, is this the final version? And if not, when can we expect it to be online?”

Tutor: *shrugs and shakes her head, clearly exasperated* “We will need to address that with her.”

Student #3: “How many times will homework be issued this semester, anyway? I mean, would we be okay if we failed it twice, or can we only fail it once?”

Tutor: *still exasperated* “I think seven or eight times. She still hasn’t told us.” *she writes something down again*

Student #4: “There was really a lot of homework this week.”

Tutor: “That’s right, but that’s due to the holiday last week. So, you have two weeks to finish it instead of one.”

Student #5: “But she only uploaded it last weekend, so even if it was the final version, we only have one week to do it.”

Tutor: *blinks, sighs, and wordlessly takes another note*

The Mother Of All Cheaters

, , , , , | Learning | December 14, 2017

(I work as a tutor for local college students. I have one student whose mother is way too involved in his schoolwork. She claims she wants to learn the material herself so she can drill him on it at home, but she does a really bad job of hiding the fact that she’s actually doing a lot of it for him.)

Mother: “Today, I want to go over these practice problems that I couldn’t understand when I was trying to help him study, and then we have an assignment to work on.”

(We go over the practice problems. By “we,” I mean the mother and I — the son is eating lunch.)

Mother: “I think we’re ready to start working on the assignment. [Son], is there anything you want to go over with [My Name] first?”

Son: *silence*

Mother: “All right, let’s pull it up. [My Name], don’t help us at first; we want to try it on our own.”

(I work on other things while they do the assignment, but I still hear a lot of their conversation, and while the son knows several of the multiple-choice answers, the mother does all the math.)

Mother: “Okay, [My Name]. Do you want to take a look at this?”

Me: “Looks like most of these are right, but you should take another look at these two. Can you show me how you got those answers?”

(We go over the two questions, and with some prompting, the mother realizes where she went wrong and corrects her answers. After they’ve turned in the assignment…)

Mother: “Lord, forgive me for cheating. At least I tried to do it all myself.”

(So, doing her son’s work for him wouldn’t be cheating, if only they hadn’t asked me to look over it before turning it in?)

You’re Failing At Tutoring

, , , , | Learning | December 7, 2017

(I work as a tutor at a tuition centre. Our main feature is that we offer personalised learning on a student level, as each student has a unique mindset and thinking style. Students can either come to one of the few centres or be taught at home. The price is higher to be taught at home, but they can skip the centre’s pre-lesson activities. The bulk of parents sending their kids to these centres are from the low to middle-class end of the income spectrum, because the big boss, having come from humble beginnings himself, offers huge discounts. This happens rather frequently to the receptionists, who speak the most with the parents.)

Receptionist: “So, you are unhappy that your child is not improving.”

Parent: “Yes! I didn’t pay such a high price and send him so far away from home just to get nothing!”

Receptionist: “According to what his subject coaches and the student said, he improved from Fs in his class tests to a high C in his post-break exam. That is quite an achievement.”

Parent: “Well, he should be getting As or at least top in his class!”

Receptionist: “Ma’am, that’s impossible. He was failing all of his tests before he started here. It is very unlikely that he can jump to an A. It takes time—”

Parent: “Ugh! You’re useless! Anyway, what’s with all these ‘pre-lesson’ activities? They don’t help my child learn at all!”

Receptionist: “Well, we can always skip those activities by having the coach come to your home—”

Parent: “Well, do it then!”

Receptionist: “—for another $75 a month to cover their transportation fees.”

Parent: “Well, I guess it’s fine if my child continues going here. Just do less of the pre-lesson what-nots!”

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