While the subject is warm, the Curmudgeonly Professor wishes to offer further wisdom and insights about the questions that students ask. On the first response posted below yesterday's discourse on this topic, my brother-in-law, who is an English professor at Utah Valley State, and who, therefore, is exceptionally qualified by experience and academic credentials to expand the list of student questions, indicated that students who have lost sleep and stay home to have a little nappie then ask if they missed anything. What the learned English professor omitted in his observation, however, is the next question "Could you just go over with me what I missed if I come to your office?"
The latter question pops up quite often after students extend their vacation beyond the two or three days allowed at Thanksgiving, for instance, to a week or ten days. Since most schools cancel classes the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, students generally reason this way: I only have two classes Monday, one on Tuesday, and one on Wednesday (why is Wenzday spelled wed-nez-day?"), then, logically thinking backward, they realize that, gee whiz, they only have two classes on Friday, so why not skip town Thursday afternoon and extend the vacation through two weekends, or for ten or eleven days, at least? Then the little darlings show up in class the following Monday after a week at the beach or on the ski slopes and show up, all tanned and rested. They pop up cheerfully after class with a smile, and ask, "Dr. Blood, (students only call me Doctor when they know they are in the soup and are trying to make points, so to speak) did I miss anything?" And then, the fatal mistake, "Could you just go over with me what I missed if I come to your office?" "Certainly, Junior or Marybelle, I would be thrilled to take a half hour or an hour out of my limited time between classes to give you a private tutorial session since I know that you needed the rest and your tired little minds were already overstrained with a superfluous quantity of trivial knowledge which you never intend to remember beyond the final exam anyway. Just come on up. I'll serve punch and cookies. And give your parents my best regards for raising such devoted and able scholars." Stuff like that.
One of my favorite post-Thanksgiving student consultations came from a charming young lady who told me on Monday after the holiday, "I just got engaged over the weekend, will you please sign my course drop slip. I'm just so happy that I don't need to take the final, which I know I couldn't pass anyway." Oh dear young lady. You may actually, we hope not, encounter far more problems and miseries than you ever would have if you would have continued to come to this nice comfortable class room and try to learn something. But good luck and congratulations. I don't actually say all that, of course; but I'd like to some times.
And then the further comment, from my niece, Laura, who is a fourth grade teacher, reminds us that students learn young to whine and complain as they ask her, "Do I have to do that?" Mother always had an answer to that question, and it was never the answer we really wanted to hear. So why bother asking it?
The learning process is indeed a troublesome one, at times, but for those who want to learn, are motivated to learn, or who can be motivated to learn, it works extremely well. The rest of them just plan to go to work on Wall Street anyway, buy a BMW or a Jaguar, and spend several years learning what they wish they would have paid attention to in college. Oh well.