Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dear Student, X

Dear Student,

Congratulations on making it to the fourth week of the semester. As you know, in this fourth week, we take our first lab exam. The exam covers topics on blood, the heart, the EKG, and all the arteries we studied. I stood up, in front of the class, three weeks in a row, pouring forth all of the information that you would need in order to do well on this lab exam. In fact, having taught the course for the last 13 years,  I even stated something similar to: "I don't make the exam, but by now, I have a pretty good idea of how they ask the questions. Pay attention. You might learn something."

Well, student, it is clear that you did not learn anything. Because as I stood at the front of the classroom after you had left and I corrected the exams with my handy green pen, I noticed something. The handful of sample questions provided by the department--the ones I told you were important to understand and study--appeared in some form on the exam. And even though I went over one of the concepts three times in class, and showed you how to perform the function, you still managed to get that question wrong. And I'm okay with that fact. I understand that anxiety can arise or maybe you forgot to review that last bit of information at the bottom of the study slides. I get it. I was once a student and I've been where you are.

But when I saw what other questions you missed, I realized that I have, in only four weeks, failed you miserably.

You see, despite the fact that I taught you about stroke volume and heart rate and how to calculate cardiac output, even though I showed you where all the arteries are and the direction blood flows through the heart, although I instructed you how to tell the difference between a basophil and a neutrophil under the microscope...despite all of that, you will never get the question right if you don't actually READ THE QUESTION on the paper.


Yep. When I checked your test, it became apparent very quickly that what you did was approach the lab bench, look at the model/slide/dissected heart in front of you, and decide what you thought I was asking. You didn't read the question in front of you at all. You couldn't have, or you wouldn't have replied with the answers that you did.

Mea culpa, student. Mea culpa. I have learned and I hope you have, too. Next semester, I'll start off the lab class with a brief introduction of who I am and what the class is about, and then, I'll remind you that when it comes to exams (and really, life in general), one must read the question to actually have a hope of answering said question correctly. I'll also repeat that instruction every time we have an exam, because I don't want to have to feel so guilty for your bad grades.

It's always a great day for me when I learn something student. I'm only sorry it had to be at your expense. I have to wonder, though, if you have so much trouble reading a question, I'm guessing you will also not understand the concept of sarcasm.

Good luck with the remaining 12 weeks.

Sincerely,

Your teacher.

1 comment:

S. B. House said...

Ha... I was just talking to my friend about how I was noticing that there are many people who respond to something I'm telling them before I've even finished making my point. More often than not they thought I was going somewhere entirely different than I planned to. I guess, like your student, they couldn't be bothered to wait through the entire statement before responding and moving on.