A potentially life-threatening condition, five days of excruciating pain, and emergency surgery bring a sharp new focus to life. From a hospital bed at the Mayo, I emailed the new chair that I will not be back after this summer session.
Actually, the message wasn’t quite that blunt and did leave some wriggle room to come back in the spring. But realistically, it ain’t gonna happen.
Online courses tend to insulate you from student insolence and nerviness, but that hasn’t happened this summer. A week or so into the summer’s seven-week course, along comes a message from a student:
What is the book that will need for this course because i am planing to rent to save some money
Code for “I have no intention of getting the book if I can possibly avoid it.”
You understand, what the kid is saying is that he hasn’t read the course’s introductory announcement — which was posted and made available five days before the course’s start date! — nor, of course has he read the syllabus, over which they have taken a quiz. How does he expect to go through a 100% online course without reading the regularly posted announcements and instructions? By mental telepathy?
May 25, 2015 at 6:00am
It’s listed in the syllabus, with the ISBN, near the top of page 1. Please download the syllabus to get that information. Find the syllabus in Files (in the list on the left-hand side of the Canvas pages). I think you can rent it through the bookstore and also through various other vendors.
Note that the first announcement of the semester told them how to find the syllabus and said a) they need to download it to get the information about the course and b) they would take a quiz over the syllabus to be sure they read it. For good measure, that announcement noted that the syllabus was also attached to the announcement itself. So evidently the fellow hasn’t even bothered to read the online course’s FIRST announcement!!!!!!
A student turns in a 750-word research paper. The assignment states clearly that three sources are required, at least two of which must come from one of the college’s databases of scholarly journals or academic books. Sources must be cited in-text and documented following MLA style. Her paper, evidently recycled from a high-school English class, contains one reference: to a post from the online incarnation of Glamour Magazine.
She is infuriated when she flat-out flunks the paper.
I know writing essays is definitely not one of my greatest strengths but if I can receive some feedback about my grade, that would be great.:
Uh huh. It would be great if you could learn to punctuate a sentence, too. This remark comes after an insulting rant, by the way. The paper was returned to her laden with (time-sucking!) comments, corrections, and advice installed using Word’s “Track Changes” function. Evidently she hasn’t even looked at it.
To see feedback about your paper’s issues, try opening the attachment in the returned assignment and reading what I had to say about it.
They DON’T EVEN BOTHER TO LOOK AT THE GRADED PAPER AND READ THE ADVICE YOU TAKE YOUR LESS-THAN-MINIMUM-WAGE TIME TO WRITE OUT IN DETAIL!!!!!!!!!
Now she begins to sound like one of those animated cartoons people put on YouTube (for example, this classic), detailing the joys of teaching lower-divisiion students:
I don’t understand how a few mistakes on using sources and MLA format results in a loss of 120 points? That is so extreme.
As I lay in a hospital bed doped to the teeth on morphine, this message floats over the ether that is the Internet…
While MLA formatting was an issue, it was not the sole or most significant issue. As stated in the grading rubric and my comments, the key issue is a lack of support from credible sources in your essay. On the one hand, you make claims in the essay and do not include support for them. I have noted such places in the detailed feedback that I provided. On the other hand, when you do include support, it is from a magazine, which is not considered credible for academic research.
The kid capitulates. But I’m sure that’s temporary: two more sets of papers are due in the next couple of weeks. So no doubt it’s not the last we’ll hear from that one.
BTW, lest the observations in that last missive seem out of the blue, the class has now done EIGHT QUIZZES over reading material designed to teach them what a “credible” source is and why Glamour doesn’t make it as a scholarly source, over rudimentary research methods, over citation and documentation, over how to approach and organize a scholarly writing project, and over how to do the specific assignment, a causal analysis.
Averaged over 12 months, my net pay when I’m carrying the maximum load the district allows is a grandiose $1,120 a month. Do I really need to put up with this kind of guff for that kind of pay?
Literally no. A survey of my credit-union checking and savings accounts shows I have enough to provide me with over $2,000 a month before Social Security payments from now until the end of the year. It is in fact objectively true that I do not need to put up with this kind of guff.
In 2015, I will be required to take my first RMD from my IRA, so that the government can shear me for taxes on retirement savings. Thus it will be to my advantage to forego pay on two sections (which is all I was assigned in the fall). I don’t actually earn enough from teaching to pay taxes, but a $45,000 RMD will jack up the apparent income, even though most if it will simply be rolled over into taxable investment instruments. If push comes to shove, I can always take a few thousand dollars from that RMD to live on.
The amount the college pays me comes to about 2 percent of my total retirement savings.
Do I want to live on savings when there’s some chance I could last another 20 years?
Of course not.
On the other hand, at the rate I’m going, it’s beginning to look like “another 20 years” is not in the cards. One would certainly hope not, anyway…
I now have had six surgeries over the course of a year, one of them for a life-threatening condition. Whatever time is left to me, I do not want to spend on a minimum-wage activity that makes me crazy.
For years, I’ve been advising adjuncts to QUIT DOING THIS. Finally I’m taking my own advice.
So how do I propose to supplement Social Security with enough cash to put food on the table?
I’ll tellya how I’m going to supplement Social Security: by writing pornography.
A long-time friend of mine recently learned that a friend of her son’s is cranking $30,000 a month by churning out 5,000-word novelettes and posting them on Amazon. He aims to publish one a day — some of these he writes himself, some he farms out to freelances for — yes! — sub-minimum wages. He’s been at it for about a year, With 256 tomes online, that is what he’s earning.
Well. I certainly don’t need to earn 30 grand a month. Thirty grand a year would more than suffice. And after looking into it, I see that many people are doing this and reporting revenues that amount to a living wage, once a certain “critical mass” of published drivel is reached. Most of them are publishing several 5,000- to 10,000-word pieces of erotica a month and finding that after about six months they begin to see money in the bank. I’ve read the stuff — most of it is execrably written, some of it exactly at the level of a freshman comp student. I’ve written a 7,200-word story and sent it off to a couple of writing friends to review. It was easy to scribble and even kind of fun.
Even if you think you enjoy teaching intransigent, bored freshmen who resent taking your course on general principle,* it remains foolish and self-destructive to do it for starvation wages. When you let yourself be exploited, you are exploited. It comes under the heading of “lying down like a doormat.” This kind of treatment would not happen if the hobbyists and the forlorn of hope would stand up and refuse to be walked on.
If you’d like to see how this new enterprise turns out, my S-corp will spin off a new imprint, Camptown Races Press. It will have a blog, Camptown Ladies Talk, which will announce new bookoids with links to their Amazon pages. As soon as I get time and physical strength to put those names online, I will do so. Watch this space for the links.
And so, my friends, away!
* Nothing personal: they just don’t see why they should be made to take yet another year of English comp skills. And they’re right. If hey haven’t got it yet, they’re not going to get it.