Three Student Quirks

Teach for long enough and you'll start to notice odd things that remain true year after year. Here's one that I've always found interesting. The student who finishes a final exam first will often receive either an A or an F but seldom a C or B. And the weird things is that's also true for the last student to complete the exam, the one who holds you there for the entire exam period. Out on the margins of the bell curve, people can be fast and accurate or fast and inaccurate, or they can be slow and accurate or slow and inaccurate. The rest of us live somewhere in the middle.

Here's another quirk: whenever an assignment is due, students will walk into class and immediately try to hand it in to you. I suppose this is just anxiety about making sure it's officially received, but they show such a peculiar obsession with not holding on to the assignment any longer than necessary. It's almost as if it had some loathsome disease.

I have always marveled, too, at the way students will try to jump start the end of class with a seemingly choreographed rustling of notebooks and adjustments of posture. One starts straightening or checking to see if her pack is still by her chair. Another sits up and inhales deeply, and soon--like the contagion of yawning--they're all doing it. Sometimes you call them on this and say, "Hang on, We've still got five minutes."

When you do, they slump back into their seats like old bike tires slowly going flat.


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