Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Too Tired to Be Really Mad

Warning: The spelling and grammar in this post will stink up the joint. Please ignore to the best of your ability. Time permitting, I will come back tomorrow and clean up my mess.

Guess what, folks? I have the answer to the question: Why do students think my class is going to be the easiest A they've ever earned? Even when I say, sternly and repeatedly on the first day of class, "Students in this class seldom earn As." (Like the trick with my vocabulary? Back when I was a NOVICE novice (now I'm an "advanced beginner" as we used to say in gymnastics - wait - maybe I have that wrong. Too tired to care), I would say, "Students don't often GET an A in this class." Now I use the word EARN. Pretty tricky, huh?)

My course is actually required for a few majors at the university. And apparently, every. single. academic advisor in a few of these programs tells students, "It's a totally easy A. It's exactly what you'd expect a sex class to be." Question: What DOES one expect a sex class to be? Dirty jokes and dirty movies? I honestly have no idea. However, the students who have friends who have taken the class get the real dirt: It ain't easy at all. Or to quote one of my students, "Yeah, I heard you've got to like read and write and stuff." (Bless their wee hearts).

I don't want to immediately make assumptions - and I won't - but CRIMINEY! Are academic advisors really encouraging their students to take this class as an "Easy A"? I worked in the advising center this summer - and we were told repeatedly: NEVER tell a student ANY class is "an easy A." You may not know a particular instructor's requirements, you don't know a student's interests or strengths or weaknesses. It's almost a guaranteed method of creating a bad situation.

I know the academic advisors in one of the departments - they all have master's degrees in college student personnel or counseling and they all seem like reasonable people.

I've heard almost universally this past week from all of my students (in one particular department) that this class (not just my section) is touted as "The easiest A you'll ever get". No wonder I get whiny, bitchy evals complaining that my class was "too hard" and "way too much work."

Now: The question: How - if I bother to take this on - do I find out what (if anything) the academic advisors are telling students without coming across like I'm super-sleuth or offending some very nice, very hardworking people who are just trying to make a difference in the world and get paid a little something at the same time? And I'm so loopy right now I just realized something else: I guess, who cares? Because even if I went in with colors flying, I have no control over what anyone says to any student once I'm out of the room. Actually, I don't have control of what anyone says when I'm in the room. On the other hand, I feel a bit as though I'm the victim of false advertising. Unless I'm deluding myself (entirely possible) and all students complain about the amount of work in any given class.

I'm off to bed - I'll leave it up to you to solve and I expect an excellent answer in the morning! Ta!

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Blogger William said...


Students try to game you. They will always. I have it better with graduate students, but every once in a while it happens. I tell my class the following "I do come equipped with psychoravingasshole mode. I don't like to use it, but it is there. If you don't do X,Y, and Z the consequences are these."

Frankly, I think they're BSing in attempt to trespass on your good nature.

William the Coroner

December 12, 2006 10:50 AM  
Blogger saintseester said...

I agree the students are full of BS. If someone said to you, I think this will be an easy A, then they offend you. If they say the advisor told them,then the advisor offends you. See how clever they are?

December 12, 2006 12:38 PM  
Blogger Ian Scuffling said...

I agree. I wouldn't be surprised if they were lying to you about what their advisers told them, thinking (wrongly) that your motivation is to give them an experience that makes them happy. As if their college education were a cruise or resort vacation instead of an opportunity to, you know, learn stuff.

December 12, 2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger kermitthefrog said...

If you're on friendly terms with the academic advisors you know, perhaps you could bring it up tactfully? Phrasing it as alerting them to aspects of the course they hadn't known about, so that they could better prepare students? So you wouldn't be interrogating, but informing them. I'm sure at least a few are getting flak from the students they misled as well, so they might even appreciate it.

If you don't already have collegial acquaintance-type relationships, though, I don't know if there's anything you can do without coming across as officious.

December 12, 2006 6:18 PM  

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