Search This Blog

Seeing the End From the Beginning

It never fails. The last week of class, I am hit with a surge of students who all of a sudden are “concerned about their grade in the course.” All of a sudden they realize graduation is jeopardized because they blew off a lab report in January for a one credit hour course. Realize that I give them a chance to do one extra experiment at the end of the semester to replace a low report, so that lab report in January shouldn’t be a problem,


…they got sick in February and missed two weeks of school, or messed up an experiment in March and had no data, or had a car wreck over Spring Break and were in the hospital, or their computer crashed in April and they lost all of their work, or they had too many projects in May to have time to do an extra experiment and report. Then that January laziness looms large because they used up their mulligan.

Another common scenario is when a student comes to my office in ‘righteous’ indignation because if that @#$%#@# TA hadn’t of taken off those two points on their first lab, they’d have an ‘A’ in the course. When I point out that an ‘A’ student would have addressed this with the TA at the beginning of the semester instead of after grades are submitted, they respond that they didn’t think two points would matter that much back then. I ask them what they think of those two points now, and then show them how if they’d followed explicit directions in about ten other places they would never have lost 30 points, and then the two points would have been irrelevant.

On the first day of class, I literally preach to them that if their grade is going to be important to them in May, then they need it to be important in January. I refuse to squabble over minor grade issues after classes end. It is too late at that point. They had three and a half months to cuss and discuss to their hearts’ content. The fat lady has sung, the lights have come on, and Elvis has left the building.

A few years ago, the band, Ceili Rain, released “That’s All the Lumber You Sent.” (The video link is of the band performing the song. Watch the whole thing to see the Irish Dance troupe at the end.) The lyrics seem eerily relevant:

Said a friend to a friend one day:
Was a man who passed away
St. Peter met him at the gate
Pete said: "Walk with me if you will
I'll take you to the house you built"
Man said: "I can't wait!"
Passed a mansion made of stone
But with each new house he's shown
They get smaller by degrees
Stopped in front of a two-room shack
Pete said: "Hope you're happy with that"
Man said: "How can this be?"- Pete say:
"That's all the lumber- that's all the lumber
That's all the lumber you sent
Looks like the builder- man, he's got your number
That's all the lumber you sent"
Man didn't know what to say
Poor guy was blown away
Said: "You mean this is what I deserve?"
Pete said: "I'm afraid it's so
't's too late but now you know
Shoulda done better work"
Said: "You mean not lie and cheat
And helpin' old ladies 'cross the street?"
Pete says: "Well, that's a start
Remember that man back in that great big house?
He found out early what it's all about
Built that place with his heart- as for you
"That's all the lumber- that's all the lumber
That's all the lumber you sent
Looks like the builder- man, he's got your number
That's all the lumber you sent"got your number
That's all the lumber you sent"
What if that man was me
And I failed that miserably
You're showin' me things I don't wanna see!

St. Peter if you can
Send me back to earth again
's'that somethin' you can do?
Pete said: "It ain't up to me
If it was I'd like to see
How you plan to improve"
Said "I'd love God and fellow man
Take a wife and make a stand
Be the givin'est guy I can be
And when I get back to this neighborhood
There'd be a gigantic pile o' wood!
And I'd say: 'What's this I see?'- and you tell me
That's all the lumber- all that's your lumber
That's all the lumber you sent
Big boss'll help you- hammer it all together
That's all the lumber you sent"


No comments:

Post a Comment