Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Murf the Nerf Misses the Final

I don't think I've ever told you the story of Murf the Nerf--so-called because he was about the soft-headedest football player ever to be awarded a scholarship. Total wastoid, this guy. Barely showed up for the Intro to Mass Media class (big lecture gang-bang with over 100 kids in the room on a good day). Never uttered one blessed word in the whole semester. Slept on the back row with his cap over his eyes.

For every class, I require one one-on-one meeting, prof to student. It can be five minutes or 30, depending on time and the student's conversational skills.

Murf never set up his meeting. He was throwing for a loss the whole semester. Didn't turn in all the papers. Missed a few quizzes. Got a C on the mid-term, which was so screamingly easy that some students made more than 100 points on the thing by simply filling in the extra credit question.

Comes the day of the final and Murf is a no-show. It's an 8 a.m. test, three hours allotted. Most students finish the 100 multiple choice questions in under 90 minutes. A few of the anal retentive ones stay a bit longer to quadruple-check their Scantron sheets and sharpen their Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils a few times between test sections.

Don't ask me why but I was feeling generous as I sat in my office that afternoon, grading the exams and totaling up the final grades on the computer. Murf's last name popped up and I thumbed through the alphabetized exam sheets to see if I'd misplaced his. Nope, wasn't there. Oh, boy. The kid probably overslept. If he misses the final, he'll flunk the whole course. It's 30 percent of the total grade.

I look up his phone number on his grade/attendance card and punch it into the greasy beige office phone. "Hullah," he answers sleepily. It's after 1 p.m. by now.

"Mr. Murfree? It's your Mass Media teacher. Did you know you missed the final exam this morning?"

"Huh?" Coming to consciousness now. "Shee-it, I thawt it was at 2. It was at 8? Shee-it."

Shee-double-it, kid.

"Mr. Murfree, if you can get to my office in the next half-hour, I'll give you the exam. If you don't take it today, you're going to fail the course."

"I'll be there," he says shakily. I can almost smell the flop-sweat beading up on his low-hanging brow.

He ambles in about 20 minutes later, wearing droopy shorts, flip-flops and a Senor Frog t-shirt from Spring Break in Cancun. I set him up in the conference room next door and give him the exam stuff and a Scantron sheet. He has to borrow a pencil. Didn't even bother to bring a pencil.

Every 15 minutes or so, I check on him--the rest of the building is nearly empty--and he seems to be clicking along slowly but steadily. Takes him about two hours to get it done. He shuffles off down the hall and I start grading. By the end of the first section, I can tell he's going to muff it pretty badly. He places the invention of the phonograph in the 1700s and identifies "MPAA rating" as the "Thumbs up or down given by critic Roger Ebert" (one of my so-easy-it's-idiotic choices among answers). A monkey throwing darts at a Scantron would have better odds of picking better answers than the Nerf. But somehow he pulls a D on the thing, giving him a D in the course overall.

The grades go up on the computer system that students can check within hours of my posting them. You can usually tell when the grades hit the cybersphere because the phone calls and emails start coming in.

Mr. Murfree is one of the first. "A D? How could I get a D?" he asks, his voice rising with indignation. He protests heartily and asks for a meeting in my office to discuss it. They always want the meeting.

The semester is over, I tell him. The building is locked up. No meetings. The grades are final. And BY THE WAY, BUDDY, I did you a big, fat favor by letting you TAKE THE EXAM, which you SLEPT THROUGH.

Now comes the sob story part of the show. He's about to lose his scholarship. His girlfriend is pregnant and her parents kicked her out so she's living with him. His parents are divorcing. His mother's an alcoholic. Four great excuses and he uses them all.

My ears turn to lead as he prattles on and on. The grade is final, I keep telling him. You were lucky to get the D. YOU DESERVED AN F.

He will call and email me constantly for the next two weeks.

No good deed goes unpunished.


Blogger Cold Potato said...

Missing the exam; I can empathize with stuff like that. I slept through all of my first class of the day and halfway through the second which happened to be a test that day. I woke up, "aww, sh!+", ran to class, took my test in half the allotted time (most people took the better part of the timeslot), scraped a C and counted my blessings.
I don't drop classes on a whim, but sometimes its best to roll with the punches and not cry over the spilt milk.
Your friend Mr. Murfree just may not be meant for college life. (Or normal life for that matter)

2:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose the kid the athletic department hired to take the final for him didn't get his $50.

He is lucky you called him, I wouldn't have done that much.

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did he end up having a boy or a girl?

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

I missed a final once. I was taking eighteen hours my senior year, was looking for a job at the same time, and misread the 'M' on my French final as mercredi (Wednesday) instead of Monday. About 8pm Monday evening I realized my horrible mistake and emailed the professor, who got back to me in record time and set an appointment with me the next day. I was lucky. :) Of course, I was also an A student, attending class on a regular basis, doing the homework, and participating. I can't say if he would have given that option to someone who sat in the back sleeping through class all semester - when they bother to show up at all.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Koru's Daughter said...

No good deed goes unpunished, indeed!!!

The minute you went from the Rough Prof to the Com Mom, by waking him up for the exam, he expected you to baby him some more.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or bad deeds punished, Prof, if I may. The moral of the story beeing that compositions and Scantroniks tend not to mix all that well; if.. at all, kinda...

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in a household where there were NO excuses. You either performed or you did not, the latter creating an unfavorable situation.

I read this stuff and wonder how this bullshit is tolerated. Am I the chump for being taught that rules are to be followed? Seems that more frequently rules are more like the window sticker of a car—a starting point for negotiation.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

liner -- i cheated in your classes

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You made a mistake if you called him but did not call every other student who was an exam no-show.

And if he did not make it to the required one-on-one meeting, missed quizzes, didn't turn in all the papers, how did you pass him at all?

Was the "D" a gift to the football program or to him? He did deserve an F, and his pestering you was your punishment for doing the wrong thing, not for a good deed.

Big 10 Prof

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at a Big 10 school when the lazy-ass English Lit proff didn't erase "Final, Wednesday, 10 AM" from the board. I slid into class a few minutes late and wrote that down. I showed up for the class and found an architecture class in the room getting ready for the exam. Turns out that was THEIR exam time.

After tears etc... with the prof, I was granted a make-up exam, but then they lost that and claimed I never did it etc... the D haunts me still, as I had an A in the class and excellent attendance. It was a VERY mean thing to do to a freshman...

it is a wonder I stayed in school and ended up teaching philosophy... hhmmmmm. I did learn two things from that Asshat, 1) always erase the board, 2) be clear and repeat the final exam day and time in class.... don't assume they'll be able to access the schedule for themselves.

5:00 PM  
Blogger cc41girl88 said...

Anonymous said...
liner -- i cheated in your classes

4:29 PM

i'm laughing...what a loser. please, if i had been in one of the prof's classes and cheated, with the class already over and no way repremand, i would have had the guts to say my name and not hide under the veil of "anonymous".

i bet your probably some i-think-i'm-cool, half-in half-out of the b-list group guy whose gonna get a pot belly by age 45 and who pretends to be all macho while still asking his mother's advice on cloths to a party.

ha ha!

8:30 PM  
Blogger SuperHolmie said...

I've only read few lines of this story but I have to say this:

I love, love, love, the Dixon Ticonderoga. Legendary.

Now, back to the story.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Acutally, if the prof could prove the cheating after the fact, she could change the grade to an F...

Besides, Trolls like that like to spark the imagination... it is part of the chicken-shit tactic.

10:19 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

i am surprised that you called him about the missed final exam. i am considered to be "nice" by my students, but i would never have done that.

11:40 PM  
Blogger PerpetualBeginner said...

This is why I loved my college. Self-scheduled exams. With very few exceptions (exams that required slides or music) my college had two test times a day for one week. You could at any time during that week go to the appropriate testing center during one of the test times, sign out your exam, go to your exam room, and take it. No forgetting exam times, no excuses for missing a final. It was wonderful.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was not fair!!!

You get a hundred and eighty minutes of exam time and all you can do is give a 100 question multiple-guess test?! Whatever happened to those oh-so-wonderful exams where the instructor hands you a single sheet of paper that contains half a dozen questions to be answered in short essay form?

2:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you give a mouse a cookie...

2:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great "Wicked" quote at the end, Prof!


3:00 PM  
Blogger GrumpyGringo said...

I might be able to take the comments of cc41girl88 more seriously if she showed a command of apostrophes, contractions, and the like.

I'm just wondering how someone who claims to take academics seriously let this slacker get by? Liner, aren't you guily of the sort of thing that you condemn?

8:12 PM  
Anonymous renita said...

"Wicked" quote???

*sigh* No good deed goes unpunished is an old, old saying...

kids these days.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Hillapatra said...

It just goes to prove not all teachers get in the business for a power trip. Kids pay tuition and it's always nice to have a teacher who goes out of his/her way to help a student. With the plethora of lazy asses, a couple of students pay have very valid excuses, as testimonied above. You gotta dig through the bad ones to help the good ones some times, as long as it doesn't bother your esteem.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: those that wrote "Liner, I cheated in your class."

Whoa! Are you BRAGGING? If so, you're a bonafide jerk.

Are you trying to tell teachers that some slip through? Well, believe it or not, we KNOW some slip through. We LET some slip through (especially if you've done well in the class otherwise). We do stop at saying, "Hey, I know you cheated, but..." THAT would be outwardly condoning cheating. Not good.

So thank your lucky stars. Liner was probably being kind to you.

And don't do anything remotely similar out in the real world -- it's called white-collar embezzlement. Slammer time.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous lucille said...

"Liner, I cheated in your class": at the end of the day, you didn't cheat the prof, you cheated the other students. It doesn't hurt me a bit if my students cheat. It hurts the A students, whose As are less valuable if they can be gotten in other ways than hard work and/or smarts. It cheats the university's graduates, including you, if a place has a reputation for being easy to get through (there are places whose graduates I'd be really hard pressed to hire). That's why I try to identify and turn in cheaters, not because I feel personally wounded by some loser who wants to waste his brain and/or college tuition.

7:34 PM  
Blogger M. Joseph said...

As a former student of hers I think she was great. You get out what you put in. I am sorry that I could only now speak up. You had a great class, what happened sucks, you were a huge asset to the school, and our university is weaker with you gone.

1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to actually enjoy cheating in her was loads of fun for me...thank goodness she "let me slip through" -- if she hadn't, maybe I wouldn't be making $80,000 this year!!! Have a nice day!!

11:14 AM  
Blogger theprofessor said...

To the cheaters: Do you think you got something over on me or the college you graduated from? Never mattered to me what grades students earned or stole or cheated their way to. It's on your conscience that you have a college degree you didn't earn. And whatever you're pulling down salarywise now, you'll always know you didn't get there honestly. Live with that.

11:31 AM  
Blogger milowent said...

whoop-tee-do! you cheated! i really don't care, and it isn't even relevant to this post.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous big daddy said...

anonymous cheated, "slipped through" and makes $80,000 this year. having established his pattern, he'll cheat again. he'll either slip through, and enjoy working in the white house until he finds himself blubbering in front of a judge, or he'll find the rest of the world has discovered what a weak-ass loser he is.

11:56 PM  
Blogger Hillapatra said...

I think the anonymous is poking us with a stick... and it works.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Koru's Daughter said...

Hillapatra said...
I think the anonymous is poking us with a stick... and it works.

I agree with Hillapatra. A recent graduate who is making $80,000 does not troll blogs to say "nanner nanner boo boo." That recent grad would be working his or her butt off. Anonymous is either a fake or an entitled brat (money from daddy). My guess is both.

Entitlement and faking it... yes, this comment is on target with the original blog post.

10:01 PM  
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