I'll Take "Things That Mystify Me" for $200, Alex
Two years ago? I expected that about 95% of college students would be decent writers, with great writers and horrible writers filling out the tail-ends of the bell curve. Today? I expect that about 45-48 out of 50 students will be fairly incapable of writing a decent, comprehensible paragraph and there will be between 2-5 truly exceptional writers. On these students' papers, I always tell them that the next time they go home they should go visit their high school English teacher and give him/her a big hug. And maybe a bottle of vino. And I am also much calmed by the (very late) realization that if these students can't write, it is honestly not their fault.
Two years ago? I thought that unless some kind of freak accident or unexpected kidnapping was involved, no student would miss an exam. After all, one hundred years ago, when I was a young college gal, you just. didn't. miss. exams. Today? I anticipate at least 2 students will miss every exam, and some will even blow me off or miss the make-up exam. And I will have to accommodate them. And their excuses? Although some will be fairly riveting sagas, like the aunt killed in the freak "scubba diving accident," some are just lame - like, "I got a tattoo last night and I guess it made me feel sick so that's why I missed the midterm."
But. Call me
And yet, here I am again, with another stapler story, and still completely mystified by the apparent stapler shortage that is plaguing our campus.
Yesterday, I returned papers. One student failed to 1.) use a cover sheet, and 2.) staple his paper. Instant deduction of 10 points (5 for each transgression - something about carrying around papers with raggedy-ass rolled-down corners just bugs me). However. This is the new me. This is the Teacher Lady with the appropriately low expectations. So when Skippy came to pick up his paper from the massive pile, I took him aside and said softly, "You know, Skippy, I'm sorry to say, you lost some major points for some really simple things." And honestly? I was hoping for a good story - not just for blog fodder but so I could be appropriately understanding. Tell me something interesting and we can perhaps work something out. You know, the dog really ate your homework. But alas, it was not to be. Here is how the rest of my conversation with Skippy went.
Skippy: Yeah, I knew that would happen.
Skippy: I saw the requirement on the syllabus.
Me: I - I don't understand. Did something happen to you? (Note: I have to say that I said this in the most kind, understanding tone of voice I have. And I think it was convincing because people used to tell me that with my penchant for dramatics, I could definitely have a career in the theater.)
Skippy: I just - couldn't find a stapler - anywhere!
And here, ladies and gents is where I was truly mystified. And (dammit!) it did NOT occur to me to ask him where he was looking for a stapler. But he truly appeared to be legitimately vexed, like he couldn't find an address on a street after he had driven up and down it for half an hour.
Me: (Thinking he honestly didn't know, and it wasn't his fault, because who knows? Maybe his family was too poor to own staplers, or maybe his mom always bought them for him and he never realized there was no such thing as the Stapler Fairy) You know, they have them at Target, really cheap! (In case cost was an issue).
Skippy said nothing, just looked at me and shook his head and then walked away sadly, like there were truly no staplers in the world and he didn't want to be the one to burst my bubble.