This, above all:

This, above all: To be God's best for The Coach and for Anna

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Excuse you


The most ingenious excuse (so far) a student gave me for not turning in his paper: he swapped cars with his brother, and his paper was in the trunk of the car the brother was using.

The most recent excuses given by two of my students for not doing homework: (i) she doesn’t have time; (ii) his previous school didn’t give students homework.

The most irritating reason for decrying a project: the other teacher teaching the same subject to another section didn’t impose such a requirement. (This, coupled with a whine.)

The most horrific thing a student told me, loudly, before the entire class: for me to tell her in advance if I will dismiss the class early so she would know when not to use her color-coded car and instead use another one, because heaven forbid that she wait for another three hours before she can drive home.

The most perplexing reason given by a student for allowing cell phones on campus and in class: because she cannot keep going to her car every now and then to check if she has messages—that would be oh so tiring.

* * *

For the teachers among us, here's a poem celebrating the creativity of our students.

Excuses (for English 103)
by Bart Edelman

I tell my students, the first day,
To make them interesting, at least,
Be ingenious, for God’s sake;
After all, this is a creative writing class.
Let’s put the brakes on dead grandmothers,
Fender-benders in the parking lots,
Computer malfunctions at the 23rd hour,
A host of wisdom teeth removals,
And various court appearances,
Preventing the young scholars
From attending English 103.
Why not push the purple envelope,
As my colleagues like to say.

I give extra credit up the wazoo
For excuses that involve absences
Due to imbroglios with exotic animals;
Such as llamas, ocelots, wallabies,
And reptiles of any kind—
The scalier the better, in my grade book.
If I hear another aunt or uncle
Who suddenly needs to be fetched
At the Los Angeles Airport Terminal,
I’ll shoot myself in the medulla oblongata,
And mind you, that’s not a pretty sight.

Let’s reward the inventive pupils,
Capable enough to concoct tales
So worth the simple telling,
They don’t ever feel the need
To complete their assignments;
They can just orally dispense them
And lather up their classmates and me
With a plot or two along the way.

Think of all the possibilities:
Pole-vaulting bank robbers on the lam,
Imploding hotels in the basement,
Exploding motorboats under the overpass,
Ecumenical orgies behind the cafeteria,
And, yes, that gratuitous alligator in the grass.

11 comments:

KV said...

Hahahahaha!!! Crazy kids!

sairo said...

in our korean class, the favorite excuse/alibi we give our teachers is "i didn't understand the lesson" or "it was too difficult." at least we're being a little honest. the real reason is that korean isn't the most riveting language to learn. that and our being lazy students.

janet said...

Sands, how about the UP kids? They ever gave you creative excuses? :)

sairo said...

some highlights from my 6-year stint as UP instructor:

1) when i was first teaching, they killed all 12 of their grandparents. after a while, they just ran out of relatives to kill. tsk.

2) one pregnant girl's parents drove all the way from pampanga to beg a 3 for their daughter, who had missed class too many times (something to do with prenatal checkups daw).

3) one kid from fine arts told me he was dyslexic after he got his grade of 4. so instead of a 1,000 word story, i asked him to do a comics version, with narration+dialogue. it still sucked.

after a few years, i wised up and just refused to accept any excuses. late papers would get a 3 or 5, no exceptions. after that, my students knew better than to even attempt negotiation.

so my last highlight would be...

4) my students coming to class to hold writing workshops even during typhoons or the few times i was absent and sick with the flu.

i feel a little terrible for scaring my students so much. but i'm sure i'll get over it. heh heh heh.

paul said...

sairo: you forget that poor student who got bit by a dog. she was crying because between going to the doctor to at least get shots and doing her final performance, she picked final performance. on some level i was curious to find out if acting out the symptoms of hydrophobia figured prominently in her final performance, but poor girl. hope nothing bad happened to her.

the spy in the sandwich said...

LOVE THE POEM!

First day of class, I tell my students, "Don't ever, ever kill your grandparents."

janet said...

Sands, I was never that creative when I was an undergrad. Maybe that's why I took up something as mind-dulling as Economics.

Polymath, did you catch the extra set of footnotes I sent your way? ;)

Hi Ian, I'm still on my 4th year or so of on-and-off teaching, but I love, love, love it. I am just so happy. My mother, a retired public school teacher, almost died when I told her I was going to teach. She looked at me and mourned, "I didn't raise you to be a teacher." That really broke my heart. I wish I can make her understand one of these days what an honor it is to teach kids.

paul said...

oh yeh, mom. thanks.

footnotes rule, yo.

sairo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sairo said...

paul: i can't believe i actually forgot about DogBitten Girl! that was just last semester but i honestly cannot remember her name at all. or even her face.

janet: so glad you're happy with teaching. i do miss my kids too. still, enjoy the thrill while it lasts. you know you've been teaching too long when all you remember are the brilliant kids and the dullards. everyone else becomes muebles. and in my memory, DogBitten Girl is, sadly, as riveting as a chair.

but why oh why did she choose to endanger her life for a stupid grade for a stupid CW for Beginners class? life-saving anti-rabies shot OR class project and possible death? this is not a difficult choice to make, people! maybe i should've flunked her for staying not going to the doctor...

janet said...

Naku, Sairo, may that day of losing the thrill never come, by the grace of God. :)