Thoughts about school


Well, the first day of school is over, and I’m pooped. Mondays are going to be hell for me – class 10:30 to 5:20 with no breaks for food, and TA meeting at 5:30. I survived, but I’m tired. Have to run from LILY to PHYS in 10 minutes, when it’s really a ~12 minute walk (and I usually walk quickly anyway) and then run back to LILY immediately after that. Nothing like being in a hurry to notice every annoying trait of the people around you. People who walk super slow, people who travel in large herds or while holding their significant other’s hand so you can’t get around them, people who smoke while walking so you have to inhale their shit the whole way to class, bicyclists who are manically swerving amongst the pedestrians…ugh.

BIOL 500 (the protein lab) will be…interesting. It’s only four weeks long, but in that time period we have three papers, two exams, two 4 hour labs a week, and a whole bunch of coming in extra. That’s always super annoying about labs. I already have to come in at 7:30 am on Wednesday so our stupid bacteria are fresh. Sadness. Thankfully I have a friend in the class who I’m partners with, so that makes things soooo much better. Nothing worse than having a lab partner who’s a jerk/doesn’t know what they’re doing. Oh, and Prof. Wang produced this lovely quote in one of the first few slides of her Power Point (verbatim):

“What if a protein can not doing its job?”

The grammar Nazi within me died a little. But to be honest, she doesn’t have a thick accent and I can fully understand everything she’s saying, so I won’t complain. I’ve had TAs and Professors where I had no idea what they were saying the entire semester, so…yeah.

Physics was boring as hell, as predicted. Sigh. I mean, the professor explained everything well and had demonstrations and everything, but she was just so…bland. Monotone. Unexcited. I can understand that once you’ve been teaching the same things for so many years it becomes a bit rote, but it equals automatic teaching failure. All of my wonderful teachers were animated and excited and genuinely interested in what they were about to teach us – not that they just wanted to fulfill their requirements and get back to research. I want a teacher with some personality – someone who actually, you know, uses inflection in their voice, laughs, jokes, acts like a human being. Is that too much to ask?

Speaking of which, I really like the Professor who teaches the lab that I’m going to TA. He’s not super animated, but he’s funny in the deadpan delivery/wry humor sort of way that I appreciate and a lot of students don’t get. Anyway, for that lecture I basically sat all the way in the back and ate my lunch while getting a refresher on amino acids. There has been one change in that class since I took it two years ago, though. Before my junior year, Purdue decided to be evil bastards and implement an optional +/- grading system (profs can decide if they want to use it or not). I personally hate this because it helps mediocre students and hurts A students like myself. Why? If you’re taking hard ass biology classes and get an A-, that’s a 3.7. But if you get an A+? Still just a 4.0, nothing extra. So there’s absolutely no incentive to do extra well, but you get hurt for just making it. Not to mention certain classes are easier As than others, as are certain majors, yadda yadda whine whine… but this Prof’s solution?

He has $200 dollars. Whatever students in this class of 400 get an A+ get to split the $200. Last year only two people got A+s, so they each got a hundred bucks.

My immediate reaction was “Kickass! Damnit, I would have tried harder for an A+ to get some cash!” But then I stepped back a bit, and my reaction scared me a little. I would actually try harder for a small short term reword, but not for a big long term reward? I guess that’s human psychology – we’re more motivated for things in the present. But it saddened me that even I thought that way. Yes, if all my classes did this, I would probably put forth the extra effort for some money. There are many times where I didn’t bother studying for a final because I was effectively locked into an A, and a 93 was no different from a 99. But is this just unethical bribery, or should we do it in order for people to try harder? Would it just result in more cheating and more cut throat competition for a prize, rather than your own evaluation? I guess there are some parents who would give money for As on a report card – mine didn’t because they would have gone broke, grumble – but I wonder if that method actually works?

Comments

  1. says

    It doesn’t, at least, not for me. My father gives me money for high marks, and I still get pretty average marks; the odd higher grade nets me some cash, while the lower marks net me motherly guilt.

  2. says

    It doesn't, at least, not for me. My father gives me money for high marks, and I still get pretty average marks; the odd higher grade nets me some cash, while the lower marks net me motherly guilt.

  3. says

    Well, this is why people have “passing presents” etc. My parents never had that crap. They expected us to try.But. A hundred bones is a lot of money by the end of semester.

  4. says

    Well, this is why people have "passing presents" etc. My parents never had that crap. They expected us to try.

    But. A hundred bones is a lot of money by the end of semester.

  5. says

    It’s called “hyperbolic discounting,” and requires some serious effort to work around. And it’s also why I’m still up right now despite the fact that I’ll regret it tomorrow.

  6. says

    It's called "hyperbolic discounting," and requires some serious effort to work around. And it's also why I'm still up right now despite the fact that I'll regret it tomorrow.

  7. says

    I don’t think that it’s appropriate to punish kids for doing poorly. I do think it’s appropriate to punish kids for not trying. There’s a different.What the hell is an H?!

  8. says

    I don't think that it's appropriate to punish kids for doing poorly. I do think it's appropriate to punish kids for not trying. There's a different.

    What the hell is an H?!

  9. Claire V says

    I wouldn’t feel too bad about only caring about an immediate reward and not the long term, because honestly? There is no long-term reward… whether you get an A or an A+ in one of your uni classes will have little to no effect on your future, sad to say. And in case you’re thinking “well maybe if I got the A+ that means I learned more”… it doesn’t. It means you knew more answers at the time of the test (which you’ve probably since forgotten the particulars, and would have to reveiw to remember anyway).

  10. Claire V says

    I wouldn't feel too bad about only caring about an immediate reward and not the long term, because honestly? There is no long-term reward… whether you get an A or an A+ in one of your uni classes will have little to no effect on your future, sad to say. And in case you're thinking "well maybe if I got the A+ that means I learned more"… it doesn't. It means you knew more answers at the time of the test (which you've probably since forgotten the particulars, and would have to reveiw to remember anyway).

  11. says

    I do think it’s appropriate to punish kids for not trying. There’s a different.That would probably be what they were punishing me for. I didn’t have to try to make A’s in High School.What the hell is an H?!In honor classes, it was a 95 to 100, While an A was 85 to 94, B 75 to 74, etc.. It allowed for a GPA over a 4.0, I was like 5th or 6th highest in my class with a 4.27 GPA (or something like that) because I didn’t take Honors English. I think a perfect GPA was a 4.40 or something like that, we had 2 people with that, but they cared about High School grades, I didn’t.Basically it made it where you had to take honor classes to get valedictorian.

  12. says

    I do think it's appropriate to punish kids for not trying. There's a different.

    That would probably be what they were punishing me for. I didn't have to try to make A's in High School.

    What the hell is an H?!

    In honor classes, it was a 95 to 100, While an A was 85 to 94, B 75 to 74, etc.. It allowed for a GPA over a 4.0, I was like 5th or 6th highest in my class with a 4.27 GPA (or something like that) because I didn't take Honors English. I think a perfect GPA was a 4.40 or something like that, we had 2 people with that, but they cared about High School grades, I didn't.

    Basically it made it where you had to take honor classes to get valedictorian.

  13. says

    BeamStalk, we had a similar thing at my high school. In honors and AP classes, an A was worth a 5.0 instead of a 4.0. Each teacher decided their own grading scale, but in the vast majority 90 and up was an A, 80 and up a B, etc. I was ranked 9th out of 330 becuase I had a 4.30 or something. It’s because I took art classes, which weren’t honors. The other honors students never took any fun classes just so they could get that 4.4. I still got a full ride to Purdue, so I did the right thing.

  14. says

    BeamStalk, we had a similar thing at my high school. In honors and AP classes, an A was worth a 5.0 instead of a 4.0. Each teacher decided their own grading scale, but in the vast majority 90 and up was an A, 80 and up a B, etc. I was ranked 9th out of 330 becuase I had a 4.30 or something. It's because I took art classes, which weren't honors. The other honors students never took any fun classes just so they could get that 4.4. I still got a full ride to Purdue, so I did the right thing.

  15. says

    My class size was around 210. I found that more schools cared about my ACT score than my grades. I just hate English and took regular English instead of honors. I still took some great classes like Basketball, Current Events (taught by my Basketball Coach) and Office Aid. I should have taken more art classes.

  16. says

    My class size was around 210. I found that more schools cared about my ACT score than my grades. I just hate English and took regular English instead of honors. I still took some great classes like Basketball, Current Events (taught by my Basketball Coach) and Office Aid. I should have taken more art classes.

  17. says

    My school didn’t have AP classes, but we did have excellent teachers. I’m quite sure we got a better education than most kids who took AP. I felt that was always a good thing.’sides, art classes are fun.

  18. says

    My school didn't have AP classes, but we did have excellent teachers. I'm quite sure we got a better education than most kids who took AP. I felt that was always a good thing.

    'sides, art classes are fun.

  19. says

    When I took chemistry in college, on the first day, the professor walked up to the board and said, “Chemistry is the study of matter.” And upon the board, he wrote in big block letters: “M A T E R”Perhaps I had misheard him, and he really said that chemistry is the study of my mother, but I had already taken psychology, so I doubted that. The class went downhill from there, and I eventually dropped it. Couldn’t learn a thing from someone who just wasn’t able to communicate (about half the class dropped).

  20. says

    When I took chemistry in college, on the first day, the professor walked up to the board and said, "Chemistry is the study of matter." And upon the board, he wrote in big block letters: "M A T E R"

    Perhaps I had misheard him, and he really said that chemistry is the study of my mother, but I had already taken psychology, so I doubted that. The class went downhill from there, and I eventually dropped it. Couldn't learn a thing from someone who just wasn't able to communicate (about half the class dropped).

  21. says

    My dad tried the money-for-grades thing. He stopped doing it after a while, so I stopped pushing myself. I still got a general B-average out of things. Granted, I dropped myself out of honors to regulars classes, mostly because of the company that I could keep while in regulars. Most of the teachers were the same, despite being in a giant school, so I could have the same discussions with them, but without the tools that populated most of the honors classes.Most of the folks in the honors classes were just… not really good people. And this became evident especially after the glue that held us together died of cancer in 9th grade.

  22. says

    My dad tried the money-for-grades thing. He stopped doing it after a while, so I stopped pushing myself. I still got a general B-average out of things. Granted, I dropped myself out of honors to regulars classes, mostly because of the company that I could keep while in regulars. Most of the teachers were the same, despite being in a giant school, so I could have the same discussions with them, but without the tools that populated most of the honors classes.

    Most of the folks in the honors classes were just… not really good people. And this became evident especially after the glue that held us together died of cancer in 9th grade.

  23. says

    I think you guys would die if you knew the school I went to had but 260 students in a good year. My grad class was one of the largest they ever had at 88 kids.

  24. says

    I think you guys would die if you knew the school I went to had but 260 students in a good year. My grad class was one of the largest they ever had at 88 kids.

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