Dave Haas davehaas at
Sat Sep 11 18:53:24 EST 1999

The following was taken from a novel "Cosm" written by a Physics 
professor at a major institution in Calinfornia.   I'm sorry I didn't get 
his name but he  writes science fiction. Some of you may know him.  
Anyway... it remined me so much of my experiences with students that I 
thought I would pass it on.  How many have had similar experiences or can 

A physics professor describing her students after final exams:

Students would call and whine.

"I'm looking for a break here, one said. I really need a "B" in this 
course for med school". Another pleaded "If I don't get at least a "C" 
from you I  will loose my sholarship".  Since mostly biology students 
took the course and most bio majors were thinly disguised med school 
candidates she got a lot of "my life is over unless I can get a full 
letter grade increase."  

Still they weren't as bad as the sad eyed types who showed up at her 
office door.  "Professor I was in your class amd got a "B" and wondered 
is there anything i can do to raise it"?    The grade seekers all shared 
a dislike for definitive statements of grades that wouldn budge like 
fulcrum moments which once pivoted about were forever gone, instead they 
believed that the esteem building smiley faces of grade school carried 
over to the university.  Artful begging should bring a higher grade, 
right!  Final grades done and posted simply announced a last chance to 
whine for more.  Just asking should count for something shouldn't it?  
Points could be added to a score like freebie burgers or t-shirts.  Ater 
all, out in the big world fame and wealth often went to those with no 
love for knowledge at all.  Why should the world of academia be 
different.  They wanted to do extra credit after the course was over or 
partial credit instead of taking the exams. Getting a right answer was 
after all only part of the learning process.  But bridges fell down if 
you calculated the stresses wrong, people died on the operating table if 
a med school graduate miscalculated a dosage.  Such possibilities did not 
affect their quaint feeling that they should be doing better, so 
something was wrong with the system. Only about ten percent of the class 
acted this way but they roused her ire. They wanted to be judged on their 
potential and wondered why the world didn't see it that way.

D. Haas

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