Dear Readers, I pose to you a question to which I want your honest answer – not just what you think I want to hear:  would you ever decide to change an assignment that a teacher had given you?

Remember, a LONG time ago, Henry (Dear Henry) decided that he just couldn’t bear to watch a speech delivered by Bono? Well, at least Henry gave a reason for his reticence (albeit, a lame and unacceptable reason).

Well, my Incomprehensible Boy is at it again.  I had given the students Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech and told them to answer a question using the text and the information they learned in a chapter of their textbooks.  The exact assignment was “Please read chapter 8, “Organizing the Body of the Speech” and do an organizational analysis of Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech.”

IB opened his paper with, and I quote;

“I chose not to use Osama’s speech so I would not case a confession and chose a speech statement form an interview on hand banner’s bog.”

Um, no.  Even if I understood half of what he said (which I’m not sure I did), it is totally NOT cool to decide that he doesn’t want to do what was assigned and make stuff up on his own.  The rest of his paper is equally indecipherable (“A realization of giving up what I know until I have experience it, this would avoid process and possible bad habit of blinking the sure fire answer.  This means current answers may not protein to a person you don’t know and if this said person chose not to run away form a situation that has created bproblems but learns from a safe positive way of knowledge within moving forward in the improves of there own life.” I swear; I’m not making any of this up.  I have a headache now).

I’m afraid that this kid might be playing me.  I’m trying to offer him the benefit of the doubt – and that’s a pretty big doubt – but I’m not sure that my kindness is not being taken advantage of.



Filed under concerns, critical thinking, failure, frustrations, self-analysis, Teaching, Yikes!

23 responses to “Really?!

  1. In a word, no.

    And thanks for making me feel better about the lack of clarity and organization in my own students’ writing. They might be 8, but they’re doing better than this kid. 😉

  2. Ever change an assignment? No. Or, if I decided I wanted to, I’d surely talk to the teacher ahead of time, and explain my reasons then. Then again, I’m one of those crazy people who showed up to class (and took notes and participated!), did assigned reading, handed in assignments on time, etc.

  3. Uhhhhhhh, lemme think… NO. Hell no. Not unles I spoke to the instructor IN ADVANCE, could explain my reason for wanting to make an alteration, and had a clear alternative plan (with rationale) already prepared for the instructor’s consideration.

    This kid is clueless, whether intentionally so or not. Seems like it might be time for a “come to Jesus” meeting with this little flake!

  4. Suzanne

    Please, oh please, let him be playing you, because that is just painful. And yes, you are probably being too nice by cutting him any slack here.

  5. He’s either fucked up when he’s writing, or he’s seriously stupid. Either way, no slack is due. You must fail him.

  6. Laurie B

    ‘If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit”.

    This kid gets a big fat zero.

    Student is all about bullsh*t. Any bets that Momma will be on the phone protecting “Sonny Boy”?

    Ill prepared students are one thing, predator parents are just another delight of teaching. Sonny failed because he/she was not in class, failed to turn in work, never once signed the attendance sheet, and has Momma as a back up plan for his/her “failures”.

  7. Melissa

    That sure is…something!

    I would do a little investigation into whether this student is
    –an ESL student
    –learning disabled (this could be some kind of disgraphia)
    –turning in similar work to other classes.

  8. Chatty, I KNOW. It’s really hard, sometimes, to maintain a level of professionalism in the face of this sort of stuff.

    Angela, my 4th grader puts out nicer work than most of my college students do. This disturbs me in ways I can’t begin to articulate.

    Lily, this is the thing – if there were some REALLY GOOD reason for his changing the assignment – and he came to me beforehand to discuss it – I might be willing to acquiesce. Taking it upon himself, though, is totally not cool.

    Mamie, I’m sending everything the kid gives me up the chain of command. CYA is an important part of my professional philosophy.

    Sooza, I like to err on the side of the kid, but even MY patience only stretches so far.

    Michael, I suspect that an F is in the kid’s future, regardless of how much I try to help him. The bottom line is that the students have to meet the minimum standards of mastery of the material. If they don’t meet the objectives set out on the syllabus, they don’t pass.

    Laurie, one of the nice things about teaching in a college setting is that I NEVER deal with parents. I can’t – FERPA prevents me from discussing a students’ status with anyone but my colleagues and the students.

    Melissa, isn’t it, though? To answer your questions:

    I would do a little investigation into whether this student is
    –an ESL student

    I asked; he’s not.

    –learning disabled (this could be some kind of disgraphia)

    I HIGHLY suspect this – or, rather, I HOPE he’s got a definable disability and he’s not just lazy (or worse, manipulative). The problem is that my college is closing and, as such, we don’t have a whole lot of resources available to the students who are left. I honestly don’t know WHAT I’m going to do with this kid, because I know for sure that, if he does have a disability, I’m not qualified to care for him in the way he needs (and deserves to be) cared for.

    –turning in similar work to other classes.

    Though I haven’t confirmed that he’s currently turning in work like this for his other classes, I HAVE confirmed that this sort of thing has been in his history (I spoke to the composition teacher he had, and that man confirmed that, until Incomprehensible Boy dropped out of his class, that was the kind of work he was getting, too).

  9. Since we’ve gotten the serious questions out of the way I’m going to forgo my compassion and say that I think this guy has a career writing those cobbled together things you get as spam that are supposed to make you think they’re a real message but end up being gobbledygook.

  10. kirchy

    Maybe he had a prof last semester who just looked at how many words or pages and did not read anything? Let me be an optimist…

  11. What do kindness or benefit-of-the-doubt have to do with how you handle this student? He didn’t do the assignment! Either he does it or he doesn’t. Does: gets a grade reflecting quality of work. Doesn’t: gets a grade reflecting his recalcitrance. Call me Hard Ass.

  12. No! I am with CTG on this; he had an assignment and opted not to do it. Do you recall that scene in Dead Poets Society when Keating had his out in the court yard marching to illustrate conformity and voice? He asked a student “why are you not participating?” The student stated that he was exercising his right not to. Thus making Keating’s point about society. I am ranting, but my point is students cannot nor should we allow them to use our assignments to exploit our teaching.

  13. I wonder if his typing and spelling is so bad that this mishmash is what happens when he lets spellcheck run amok.

    But it’s still crap.

    And, no, he doesn’t get to change the assignment. It wasn’t political. It was a legitimate, timely assignment.

  14. You know I am with CTG on this one. It’s not even as if he plagiarized and then used a thesaurus to change words — which is bad enough on it’s own. He’s just basically opening a dictionary and throwing darts. If he had a problem with writing or a learning disability, he should have some sort of verification from your ADA office, right?

    He doesn’t get to change the assignment. I hope the responses here help you make a decision but current answers may not protein to a person so ultimately you may have to move forward in the improves of there own life.

  15. I am WITH Ms. Cornelius on this! This is “Change All.”

    Hahaha… have you heard/read Taylor Mali’s poem on this wonderful topic?!

  16. Issues with his writing notwithstanding (for those may, as you suspect, require particular alternative strategies to mitigate), I’m with CTG and others on the matter of unilaterally changing the assignment. If what I put out there doesn’t appeal–for whatever reason–then say something to me. It’s all about the communication for me.

    Knowing what you know now, would you have considered offering an alternative assignment if the student had been proactive in asking you in advance? What kind of alternatives would you consider?

  17. WTF, mate?!?!?

    All I can figure is that this kid TRIED sounding smart using the “Thesaurus” button in his email program!!

    It reminds me of a scene from Friends when Joey is introduced to the Thesaurus button while writing a recommendation letter for his friends adoption file. He ends up signing the letter “Sincerely, Baby Kangaroo”!!!!

    You can see it here and laugh your ass off TOO!!!

  18. sphyrnatude

    there’s no problem changing the assignment – he’s free to do whatever he wants. Of course, if he chooses to not do the assigned task, he’s ALSO choosing to accept the “F” that follows…..

    From what I recall of this kid history, it isn’t even worth stressing over. bothering to write the “F” on his paper is a waste of ink – HE won’t care.. Don’t stress yourself over it. Keep your posterior suitably covered, and flunk him. Spend your stress and angst in areas where it may actually make a difference….

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