Won’t Forget These Defining Principles

, , , , , | Learning | January 24, 2018

(My university tutor, an incredibly strict and intimidating old man with a thick Danish accent, is briefing us on our upcoming assignment.)

Tutor: “For the first part of the assignment, you must write definitions for these terms.”

(He writes the terms all out on the board.)

Tutor: “Do not come to me for definitions; I will not tell you. You must find them yourselves, either through research or looking back over your notes.”

(He takes a seat at his desk and sits there, silently staring at as all, for about fifteen seconds before jumping to his feet again.)

Tutor: “You know what? I’ll just write all the definitions up on the board. What are they going to do, fire me?”

(He writes each and every definition up on the board and tells us all to write them down in our notebooks. When I come to actually work on the assignment, I decide to reword the definitions as best I can, so as not to blatantly plagiarise him. The following week he sees my work.)

Tutor: “No, no, no, write down the definitions I gave you the other week, word for word. Do not reword them.”

(I went and reworded them and submitted it the following week. Needless to say, the whole class got 100% on that part of the assignment, and to my knowledge, the tutor never got in trouble for it.)

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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?”)

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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.)

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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*

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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?)

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