Monday, May 14, 2007

How dumb do you think I am?

Several of my friends are English teachers, so when we get together, conversation often turns to students. And the stupid stunts they pull.

It’s amazing how stupid students think we are. Like we were never undergrads. Like we’ve never heard that excuse before. Yep, we were born yesterday.

It’s frustrating, but amusing.

Take the students who turned in the exact same paper for an assignment. Student A claimed surprise that her paper would be on the internet. She actually seemed to imply that *I* had uploaded it to a paper mill site. Student B admitted her sister had helped her with the paper, but also claimed shock and surprise it was available on the internet. Both claimed coincidence that another student would have the same paper. (Now, a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters might eventually create Shakespeare, but the chances of two students creating the exact same paper for the exact same class at the exact same time—and that said paper just happens to be the third link on a Google search for “Othello”—well, those odds are astounding.) Both were seriously upset to receive a big fat zero on the assignment.

I once presented a student with a paper also easily found via Google. She didn’t deny it. Instead she claimed that since she had purchased the paper for $50, it was now really hers. Not only was she out $50 with a goose egg to show for it in the grade book, she wasn't happy when I told her that even if I hadn't found the paper mill she bought it from, the best she could have hoped for for her $50 would have been a C. She didn't even buy a good paper.

The funny thing about students who plagiarize is that they don’t do it very well. Let’s see, if you can find it easily on the internet, what makes you think I won’t find it with a simple search? I’ve had students cut and paste into papers and forget to remove the hyperlinks from the copied text. (Underlined text in an essay is always a giveaway.) Back in the day, it was relatively easy to copy and not get caught—you just went to the dustiest part of the library stacks and pulled an obscure text to copy from. (Not that I ever did that, of course.) But students seem to think they are being clever by typing “Othello” into a search engine and choosing a link.


Let’s see. Then there was the student who dropped my class shortly after receiving her second not-stellar grade on an assignment. She sent me a lovely email, telling me how much she adored me and my class, but she had to drop because her father had been suddenly transferred to New Jersey, effective immediately. She was asking that I give her a WP (Withdrawal Passing) instead of a WF (Withdrawal Failing). WP doesn’t affect GPA; WF counts as an F. She was sure that if only she weren’t moving in the next couple of days, she’d be able to pull the grade up. So sorry. I guess she didn’t realize that I would get a copy of the drop slip. Interestingly, only one out of four classes had been dropped. Seemed she could still take her other classes from New Jersey. She was upset to find out she wouldn’t be getting the WP. She came by my office to tell me so two weeks later.

Umm, thought you were in New Jersey, honey.

I’m an evil, mean teacher. I don’t accept late work or give make up tests unless you have a really good excuse and the paperwork to back it up. Death, car accidents, ER visits, arrests*—all of the good excuses come with paperwork. Bring me a copy and we’ll talk. Of course, then there was the student who brought me a note from her mother…. Seriously—a college student with a note from her mom.

*Yes, I did have a student bring me a copy of his arrest report as his excuse for turning in a late paper. I didn’t feel that his stupidity (he spent the night in jail for public intoxication and urination) should actually give him a free pass on the late assignment. See, I’m evil. He had the paperwork, but still got no sympathy for the situation.

I am also jaded. I come across as uncaring when I ask for an obituary or funeral program, but do you know how dangerous a time midterms is for grandmothers? It’s downright dangerous to be a grandmother of a college student—it cuts your life expectancy drastically.

I don’t claim to be foolproof. I’m sure there are students out there gloating because they pulled one over on me—a paper I didn’t realize was plagiarized; a sob story I bought. But I have caught a lot, and my BS detector is getting pretty accurate.

Since your school days are behind you, ‘fess up. Did you ever manage to get one by your teacher? What was the stupidest excuse you tried (and failed) to get him/her to buy?



Rhonda said...

PC, this is mindboggling. :-)

As for pulling one over on a teacher, I was always too afraid of getting in trouble to bother.

Angel said...

I have to agree with Rhonda. I was always too afraid to get into trouble. So I never did much of anything, either as a teenager or college student.

Boring, I know, but true.

Jen said...

PC, this post was a riot!! For me it was third grade -- "The dog ate my homework." We didn't have a dog and she probably didn't buy it but I got to slide. ;-) I'm a terrible liar so I just never tried again after that.

Playground Monitor said...

Too bad they don't channel all that energy into something productive.

I'm another goody two-shoes here. I was always too afraid of getting into trouble to pull any stunts.


Maven LJ said...

I tried the "my dog ate my homework" once, when I was in elementary school. (Don't remember the exact grade I was in, but I'd guess third or fourth.) Honestly, I was stunned that my teacher didn't buy it. It seemed so reasonable to me. :-) I DID have a dog, after all, so it had to be in the realm of possibility. Picture here an outraged child who really thought it was a GOOD AND ORIGINAL story. I never tried anything like that again, so I guess it's a good thing I didn't get away with it that first time. I can just see myself calling my editor when a book is late. "I had it all ready to go to the post office, and then my dog..." ;-)

LJ -- Glad her grandchildren don't browse the internet just yet.

Instigator said...

I love to hear your stupid student stories!

I, of course, was an absolutely angel. Oh wait...wrong playfriend ;-)

I did have one incident though. I cheated on my social studies test in 7th grade by looking through my semi-transparent notebook to the study sheet beneath. Got away with it too. But I felt so dang guilty that I never tried to cheat again.

I did however, skip high school a couple times. Got myself sunburnt the first time and had to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants for days. It hurt! And then of course I got caught and had to spend 2 days in ISS. My father showed up at the back door of the apartment several of my friends had gone to. Let me tell you, he was not pleased...and I promptly burst into tears. I wanted so badly to be a rebel as a teenager but I just couldn't pull it off.


Playground Monitor said...

From all the comments, I'm beginning to believe a whole new level of stupidity has evolved in this country. And as Ron White says, "You can't fix stupid."


Problem Child said...

See, "Dog ate my homework" has been replaced with "my printer is down," or "my harddrive crashed."

Dogs eating homework is just passe.

Smarty Pants said...

I never cheated, per se, but I was always out to beat the system. I won't elaborate. I don't want the diploma police to show up and snatch it off my wall.

I did miss a big history test once and told my teacher is was Rosh Hoshanah. Which it was. I just wasn't Jewish. And he knew it too, but he thought it was funny and let me make it up.

Sheryl M said...

LMAO!!! I tell students this all the time- you can not pull anything I didn't master years before you were ever thought of!! And yes even in middle school they look at me like they don't know what I'm talking about...until their mom has to call me-a substitute-to get expensive electronics back or their teenage dram is laminated and stapled to the bulliten board outside the principal's office >:) See you are not alone in you evilness!!! Not to mention, we live in a small community and I wont hesitate to call parents from the classroom and let their child tell mom or dad why they got this call in the middle of the school day! But college students? Sheesh. I can't wait until august so that I can start classes to get my nursing degree underway....So much is wasted on youth.

cas2ajs said...

And then there's me who never tried anything not because I was afraid but because I actually WANTED to learn. And I loved book reports. I know . . . I'm just plain weird.


Kathy said...

Teacher's pet here. Like Rhonda, Angel, PM and others, I was afraid to get into trouble. Lying bad. Trouble hurts.

However while attending HS in Frankfurt, Germany, I was a very well known forger. Dare I admit that? Many came to me to get an excuse from class. And thankfully, when they were caught, they didn't rat me out. Are you disappointed?


catslady said...

cluck cluck cluck - another big chicken here - In fact I don't think it even occurred to me to try lol. But I love your stories.

Smarty Pants said...

Oh come on, I'm not the only naughty one, am I?? I was afraid, but only of being caught. That was the trick. I managed to be teacher's pet at the same time.

Problem Child said...

Don't worry SP, someday I'll tell you about my friend Mary who was in a TERRIBLE car accident and had brain damage and might die at any moment so I had to skip school to go to the hospital to see her. A certain future Counselor was a good friend of Mary's as well.

It was just coincidence that Bon Jovi was doing their sound check at the Civic Center at approximately the same time and I knew the back way into the arena. Seriously, big coincidence.

Playground Monitor said...

So that's why you got suspended because of Bon Jovi?

Instigator said...

Gasp. You got to watch Bon Jovi sound check? If only I'd known you then...

Incidentally, I turned on some Metallica this afternoon on the car ride home. I looked into the rearview mirror to find Baby Girl headbanging. I am so in trouble.


Problem Child said...

Alas, Bon Jovi had good security.

Yes, PM that's how I got suspended.

Sadly, I didn't get to go to the concert. Seems that suspension and grounding go hand-in-hand...

PCCP said...

I assigned a book report to my seniors one year. A nice young man, but a straight D student, turned in a splendid report. It was obvious he didn't write it. That fact was confirmed when I got to the second page and his report ended abruptly with the words "continued on back flap." He didn't even finish the sentence! And I especially love it when students try to write a report based on the movie. While most movies are in omniscient pov, most books aren't. That question gets 'em (almost) every time:-)