Monday, July 26, 2010

The Extra Credit Question: No Stupid in Anthropology

Anybody tired of this one? I am teaching only online this summer. We just started Summer II--one semester in 5 weeks. Used to be that meant lecturing for two+ hours a day, now it just means fielding emails and discussion board posts for a couple of hours every day. Given the amount of time required to type a response to a simple question, I find myself wondering if this is truly an advantageous trade-off. Its just so much easier to answer a question in person than in writing. Not only is all the tone gone from writing--it requires a more careful response to get the tone right--but their questions often require more than just a factual answer, they require some kind of perspective and advice about their learning processes.

The sad part is that they never ask about anthropology. Its always some other issue they contact you about. Case in point, is the extra credit question; like the one I just got. The student took the first chapter quiz--one of many quizzes and one of many assignments, including discussion board posts-- and didn't do as well as she/he wanted. Rather than arrive at the conclusion that they needed to prepare better/work harder/study more, he/she fires off the inevitable "do you offer extra credit" email.

Kill me now. Not willing to commit murder to put me out of my misery? *Looks around*. Anybody, anybody? Didn't think so. So, now I have to answer this thing, *shudder*, and in such a way that I don't reveal my frustration and irritation. Its there, trust me. And, in such a way that I encourage she/he to succeed without enabling. And, honestly, I can't tell if she/he needs reassurance that he/she can succeed or a good swift kick in the pants so they will get off his/her ass and get to work.

And back to my rant....what is wrong with these students, today.......etc, etc, etc. Lead-based paint. The World's Most Beautiful Sociology Professor just yelled at me: "They're stupid, Pam. They are just stupid." I hate being an anthropologist because I am pretty sure we aren't even allowed to believe that. We are supposed to respect and value each one of them, aren't we? Aren't we? Somebody remind me of that because I am leaning the sociology way: they are soooooo stupid. Apologies to all you sociologists out there. I needed a label and, today, you are it.


Rebecca said...

"…People are idiots. Including me. Everyone is an idiot, not just the people with low SAT scores. The only difference among is that we’re idiots about different things at different times. No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your day being an idiot. That’s the central premise of this scholarly work." Scott Adams 1997 The Dilbert Principle, page 3

James said...

I came to the US for a semester as an anthro. undergrad., and the existence of extra credit was perhaps the biggest shock. Well....unless you count the 'study guide'. I believe that, in >90% of the classes I attended, the first and last 5 minutes were occupied solely by questions regarding what was on the test, how to pass the test, and whether or not there would be credit or guides. Strange experience.

Ethan Louis Lee said...

As a fellow educator, I feel your pain. But a word of advice: if you're going to lambaste students for being "soooooo stupid," you might learn to proofread your own writing:

"So, now I have to answer this such a way that I encourage she/he to succeed without enabling. And, honestly, ...she/he needs ... a good swift kick in the pants so they will get off his/her ass and get to work."

Good thing you're not an English prof!