Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Frustrated Professor

I have been quite sleep-deficient of late. I'm out the door at 5:30 AM to teach my morning class, and then I have an evening class that ends about 9 PM. Fortunately, none of the people with whom I share an office are teaching during this summer session, so I am usually able to take a little nap during the early afternoon.

Some of my students are really on the ball, but today, two of them rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe the sleep deficiency is catching up with me and making me edgy.

The first one asked if she could just turn in the written case briefing (this is an undergraduate Law course) without having to give an oral presentation, because she is uncomfortable giving an oral presentation to the class. Note that (A) students may give the oral presentations from their seats (almost all do) instead of standing up before the class; and (B) another student in the class, who has a speech impediment, has been quite avid in delivering her oral presentations. I didn't want to get into a pissing contest over it, so I told her it would be okay. Believe me, even if I were to give her a 100% on the assignment based upon the written submission alone (rather unlikely), she is in no danger of becoming class valedictorian.

The other one (who is usually quite attentive and studious) misunderstood an assignment. The assignment entailed finding official documents issued by a particular governmental office. The specification for the documents was that they be no more than 6 months old. The four documents this student presented were between 6 and 18 months old. After I returned the assignment -- she got gigged for the older-than-specified documents -- she came to me and told me that she misunderstood because of the language barrier (English is not her native language). I told her that my own grandparents, whose formal educations did not surpass the equivalent of the sixth grade, also had a language barrier, but that they overcame it. Fortunately, I suppressed the urge to tell her "Welcome to America -- Now Go Learn English!!!" She's essentially a very personable woman, but this time she really got on my nerves. Probably the lack of sleep is getting to me.

Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy teaching the courses I do. But summer session courses are very draining for student and professor alike.
I dread tomorrow. I fear that tonight will be one of little or no sleep. And because we are rapidly approaching the end of the first summer session, the students are very, very likely to have 11th hour questions for me. I hope that they do not interrupt my nap tomorrow afternoon.

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