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From Each According To His Need

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From each according to his need

Mike S. Adams

January 4, 2005

Dear absent student:

I received your recent email asking to be excused from the first two days of class. I am sorry that your mother bought your plane ticket before consulting the schedule for the semester. That happens a lot. In fact, it happens to at least one of my students every semester. But, please don’t worry. I am going to handle your situation under a new policy I have initiated for the coming semester.

Under my new policy, students with special needs will be able to open a “special needs account” every time that they need to be exempt from the rules that apply to everyone else. Vouchers will be deposited in the account in an amount that accurately reflects the magnitude of each student’s special need. Two vouchers have been deposited in your account to handle this week’s absences.

Since you will not be present on the first day of class, I am going to take the time to give you a special review of the class policies. I don’t mind repeating myself for students who can’t come to class. I have a lot of time on my hands. I have tenure.

First of all, it is important that you come to class on time. You need to wear a watch and set it to the time indicated on the Weather Channel. Contrary to the views of the Office of Campus Diversity, there is a fixed reality out there, independent of your feelings. Come to class before it is really 10 a.m., not before you feel like it is 10 a.m.

Of course, you might have some special problem that prevents you from making it to class on time. If so, just come to me after class and tell me what that problem is. I will grant you one special needs voucher for every time that you are late.

And cell phones will be strictly prohibited in our class. Since students have consistently shown that they cannot remember to turn off the ringer on their cell phones, I do not allow students to bring one to class at all. But if you don’t feel like following this rule, just tell me that you have a special need for your cell phone. I will then deposit one special needs voucher into your special needs account for each day that you need to bring it to class. And if it rings during class, don’t worry. I will give you a voucher for each and every single ring! Just tell me why you needed to leave on the ringer.

Furthermore, you will be asked not to read magazines or chat with your neighbors during class. But if there is a pressing need to talk, I will stop the class and allow you to finish. Of course, each time I have to do that, I will grant a special needs voucher, just as long as there really was a special need for you to speak. The policy also applies if you need to go potty during class. We will all wait for you to get back before resuming class lecture. We don’t want you to miss a thing. And don’t forget to pick up your special needs voucher after you get back from going potty.

I also intend to change the way that we review our exams after they have been graded. I used to go over the answers in class, to make sure that I had not made any mistakes. I also allowed the student to hand back his exam if there had been a computational error. That was too complicated. From now on, I am just going to ask you how you feel about your grade. Anyone who feels that he needs a letter grade added to his exam will get a special needs voucher. Two letter grades? No problem. Two vouchers, coming right up!

After the semester is over, you will cash in all of your special needs vouchers. Actually, I will do it for you if you need me to. This is the part of the policy you need to listen to carefully.

Throughout your entire career as a student, you have been taught that you are entitled to something, just because you have a special need. That is the mentality behind affirmative action. It also explains other problems like grade inflation. It is also the reason why socialism has failed despite the murders of 100 million individuals, all sacrificed for “the good of mankind.”

Since the rewarding of need and the corresponding punishment of achievement has been such a failure, there is only one rational thing to do. We must reverse the process. That is why, today, I am announcing a plan to deduct one point from your final average for every special needs voucher that you accumulate during the semester. The points will go to students who do not ask for special treatment but, instead, follow rules and seek to earn credit based upon individual merit.

By implementing this plan, I will be doing my part to reverse the harmful effects of socialism upon our great nation. If others follow, we will soon see the emergence of a large gap between the needy and the achievers in our society. But if we stay the course, we will see many of our needy brothers join the class of the achievers in the future. If they do not, we can at least say that we provided them with an opportunity to achieve. We have no other obligation.

We must no longer conceal our aims. It is time to openly declare that they can be reached by nothing less than a reversal of existing social conditions. Let the needy tremble at the coming revolution. The achievers have nothing to lose but their chains.

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Ugh. Wow. The article I posted is still amazing though :)

"We must no longer conceal our aims. It is time to openly declare that they can be reached by nothing less than a reversal of existing social conditions. Let the needy tremble at the coming revolution. The achievers have nothing to lose but their chains."

Bwee!!!

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Ugh. Wow. The article I posted is still amazing though :)

"We must no longer conceal our aims. It is time to openly declare that they can be reached by nothing less than a reversal of existing social conditions. Let the needy tremble at the coming revolution. The achievers have nothing to lose but their chains."

Bwee!!!

Give me a break. That was a truly obnoxious letter. Mr. Adams took a normal occurrence and twisted it so he could go on a long sarcastic rant.

The situation is the student simply asked if he could be excused from class. He didn’t demand to be excused from class nor should we assume the student felt it was his right to be excused. I see nothing wrong with students asking if they can be excused from class, and I certainly don’t equate that action with “needing” a better grade on a test or disrupting a lecture by chatting with friends.

A reasonable teacher who thought a student didn’t need to be excused from class (and it's only the teacher who decides whether a student should be excused from class) would simply tell the student, “You are not excused from my class. If you do not attend you will miss important material that I will not go over again. Attendance is necessary in order to learn the material and obtain a good grade.”

Missing important material and having one’s grade lowered should be enough to deter inappropriate behavior.

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I can't stand teachers and profs who base any part of my grade on attendance. If I know the material, I know it, and my test scores will reflect it objectively. Attendance be damned.

:) When I was a junior in high school, my chemistry teacher gave a detention for not taking notes! And I always aced the bastard's tests....argh!

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I can't stand teachers and profs who base any part of my grade on attendance.  If I know the material, I know it, and my test scores will reflect it objectively.  Attendance be damned.

:dough: When I was a junior in high school, my chemistry teacher gave a detention for not taking notes!  And I always aced the bastard's tests....argh!

Yes, it is amazing here at (community) college how 10% of my grade in some classes is based on attendance!!

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Yes, grades that take into account one's attendance at a collegiate level are idiotic. But I'm sure you realize it is up for the individual professors to decide how they want to handle this no matter how annoying it may be.

Though in high schools and earlier levels of education, where the students are not adults, I see no problem with making attendance absolutely mandatory by having it affect one's grade.

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The note does have an incredibly sarcastic tone to it but I do like the idea. I was a really good student and frequently skipped classes for subjects that didn't exactly require concentration like marketing.

Thing is, once I got out into the corporate world, I couldn't just blow off sales meetings because they were worthless (something which can usually describe most sales meetings). Once I became a manager, I found attendance is one of the biggest hassles I have with young employees fresh from college and our interns. It seems there can be trouble getting them to realize is punctuality really matters.

I had a situation I think is similar to the prof in that one of my brokers called in an hour after he was supposed to be there saying that he got a killer deal on a flight with his wife and wasn't coming in that Friday. His feeling that he could take a sick day because of a good deal put everyone in the office in a severe bind and cost us money. If someone is sick then I understand but that really showed a lack of committment to the task at hand. It's not that I don't want people taking time off. Quite the contrary. I encourage people to save the few days off we get for important things. His decision if we all followed his example would end up causing us to require more people to cover the office which would directly effect his pocketbook because he's compensated off of the same profit and loss statement we all were.

The best professor I had was Dr. Rust that was an accounting professor. He was a famously hard prof but you came out an expert in not only accounting but finance and business in general. Three incidents stick out: the first was he randomly assigned groups of people withing the class and each was assigned a grade based on performance of the group. Unlike the well developed teams we had planned where everyone complimented each other, we were forced to learn to adapt to new situations, circumstances, and overcome them. The second was the fact that he locked the door at the appointed time class began. You had better be early vs just on time. The other was a massive assingment that would easily take two weeks to finish. He said the lesson was a first hand lesson in dealing with rejection and arbitrariness. We worked for what seemed 3 days straight and showed up to class with what we managed to do so far. Each group looked tired but he did compliment us on our hard work and explained that when we get into the real world sometimes our best efforts weren't enough and that results sometimes out of our control. He then proceeded to push the projects into the trash can. Needless to say, we were more than upset. Some people went to the chancellors office to try and get him fired. The chancellor said quit complaining and go about our way.

Irony is how many times something like that happened to me. You put 3 years hard work into something just to have someone who doesn't have a clue blow it all off. Plus the appreciation for people who I can count on to be there when I need them verses people I don't want to. That plus getting stuck in offices, sales teams, and workgroups with people that are far from what I'd choose. Sure it blew in school to have that happen but it did teach me alot about dealing with my job later in life.

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I can't stand teachers and profs who base any part of my grade on attendance.  If I know the material, I know it, and my test scores will reflect it objectively.  Attendance be damned.

I think it's a bad policy. You can get the desired effect simply by making it clear that students will also be responsible for materials presented in class (especially materials not found in the textbook), and that you have no obligation to (and therefore absolutely will not) explain material presented in class if the student is not present when you explain it. Another way to secure regular attendance in classes is to make brief randomly scheduled quizzes be some portion of the grade, in which case skipping class is risky behavior. I can't imagine any case where it's actually necessary to grade on the basis of attendance.

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...

Though in high schools and earlier levels of education, where the students are not adults, I see no problem with making attendance absolutely mandatory by having it affect one's grade.

I don't like mandatory attendance. It's very hard for me to pay attention to the teacher explaining somehting for the tenth time when I got it the first time. At my school, it doesn't affect your grade unless you miss a quiz/test, in which case it is the teacher's decision wheter or not to let you take it. However, after missing one class four times in a semester, you get withdrawn from the class with a failing grade, even if you had an A. Though I don't really have a problem with this policy, since my classes are interesting for the most part. ;)

When the school is not actually teaching me something however, it is a waste of time and I have a problem with them forcing me to be there. Grades are one thing, but isn't there a law that prevents people from dropping out before age sixteen? This is pointless, because as a freshman, you always have the future dropout sittiing in the back of the class throwing spitballs at the teacher while he/she is trying to teach. It just makes it harder for everyone else to learn. If you don't want to be there, leave, it's your problem. That's my attitude.

As for the letter, was it actually sent to someone? I mean, it's funny as a joke, but really... I agree that it is a bit overblown. He could have just told the student: "sure, you can miss class, but it is your responsibility to know the material you miss." The student was just asking, and assuming the student had thought about his decision to miss class, I really don't understand why the teacher would care. However, I found it rather amusing from a joke perspective, because it is the "need" thing brought out to a new level. :lol:

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It's very hard for me to pay attention to the teacher explaining somehting for the tenth time when I got it the first time. At my school, it doesn't affect your grade unless you miss a quiz/test, in which case it is the teacher's decision wheter or not to let you take it. However, after missing one class four times in a semester, you get withdrawn from the class with a failing grade, even if you had an A.

Yeah, that's about the time I catch up on some sleep and other homework or start listening to music. I generally try to get a seat in the back ;) . Losing credit after missing any class four times seems a bit harsh; is that without a resonable excuse? At my school, one can miss class 12 times before losing credit. Not that I ever skip class, but I go skiing quite a bit (thought not this year: no snow :lol: ), plus other vacations, etc.

I don't like this letter. I didn't take it to be a joke and thought it extremely presumptuous. The teacher assumes that the student is automatically asking something of the teacher. If my mother screwed up and booked the wrong flight, I would send an email to the teacher to apologize, but I wouldn't expect to recieve special treatment because of it. It would be wrong for me to lose points because of it. I can see a teacher's frustration in students not taking the blame and acting like it's the teacher responsibility to do favors for them. But this letter makes a huge generalization.

Zak

Edited by realitycheck44

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Yeah, that's about the time I catch up on some sleep and other homework or start listening to music. I generally try to get a seat in the back :P . Losing credit after missing any class four times seems a bit harsh; is that without a resonable excuse? At my school, one can miss class 12 times before losing credit. Not that I ever skip class, but I go skiing quite a bit (thought not this year: no snow  :( ), plus other vacations, etc.

...

Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to put that this is for four unexcused abscences, which does change things a bit. I missed two and a half days to go skiing in Colorado this year, as I do every winter. I was worried about my new school's policy (their classes are much harder as well) but it turned out fine. It turns out that the more competent the teachers are, the less they seem to care if you miss, as long as you take responsibility and know the material. Huh... ;) It is still a harsh policy, but it has to be that way or half the people wouldn't show up. :huh: It is set up like a college, so we go back to our rooms a lot during the day. I guess they must have had an attendance problem at some point because of students falling asleep and forgetting to go to class. Not that any of this really applies to me, I don't ditch class. my school is certainly not the place to do it, anyway. :D If I didn't want to be here (at my school), I would have just gotten plenty of sleep in the wonderful public school system. :lol:

edit to add clarification in the form of (at my school) and changing "wanted to ditch class" to "didn't want to be here." You're fascinated, right? :P

Edited by non-contradictor

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The following is the attendance policy in my "Organizational Communication" class (a class dealing with all forms of communication in business settings):

[First, note that each student is in a team of four that works on projects throughout the semester].

Attendance Policy:

Each student is allowed 1 excused absence throughout the semester. Each subsequent absence will result in 2 points off their final grade AND 1 point off each of the grades of their team-members.

At first I thought that this was extremely unfair. However, due to the amount of in class practice this type of class requires, attendance is a necessity (which requires such a policy). Also, it presents the challenge to individual team members of creating and maintaining a committment by all of the team members.

Still, a whole 1 point off of the the final grade is tough. But, you better believe that I'll be dragging my teammates into class if I have to. :lol:

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I don't like mandatory attendance. It's very hard for me to pay attention to the teacher explaining somehting for the tenth time when I got it the first time. At my school, it doesn't affect your grade unless you miss a quiz/test, in which case it is the teacher's decision wheter or not to let you take it. However, after missing one class four times in a semester, you get withdrawn from the class with a failing grade, even if you had an A. Though I don't really have a problem with this policy, since my classes are interesting for the most part. :lol:

4????

I would have died at your school. In 8th grade I took a cumulative leave of 30 days. My school is happily amazingly lax in attendance.

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Another way to secure regular attendance in classes is to make brief randomly scheduled quizzes be some portion of the grade, in which case skipping class is risky behavior.

I had two classes like that last semester. That's pure evil :lol:

Since this semester all my classes are in a row (6 classes on Monday, 4 on Wednesday) I really won't be missing too many. I found that if I only scheduled 2-3 classes on a day I'd be more apt to skip everynow and then. But, since I only have to drive up twice a week (and I'd be missing 6 or 4 classes if I didn't) it's difficult to find an excuse to skip. So far it's worked: I haven't missed a class this semester even though none of them take attendance.

Only problem will come during midterms when I may have 2-3 exams in one day.

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I think it's a bad policy. You can get the desired effect simply by making it clear that students will also be responsible for materials presented in class (especially materials not found in the textbook), and that you have no obligation to (and therefore absolutely will not) explain material presented in class if the student is not present when you explain it.

I agree. I don't typically skip class. The best way to secure good student attendance is to promote a rigorous and challenging classroom environment. I mean, I'm glad if a prof presents non-textbook material in class, even if it necessitates my attendance. Textbook teachers suck, and skipping their dull classes is the least I can do in return :lol:

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The following is the attendance policy in my "Organizational Communication" class (a class dealing with all forms of communication in business settings):

[First, note that each student is in a team of four that works on projects throughout the semester]. 

Attendance Policy:

Each student is allowed 1 excused absence throughout the semester.  Each subsequent absence will result in 2 points off their final grade AND 1 point off each of the grades of their team-members.

At first I thought that this was extremely unfair.  However, due to the amount of in class practice this type of class requires, attendance is a necessity (which requires such a policy).  Also, it presents the challenge to individual team members of creating and maintaining a committment by all of the team members. 

Still, a whole 1 point off of the the final grade is tough.  But, you better believe that I'll be dragging my teammates into class if I have to.  :)

Try getting fired over someone not showing for a sales presentation. It's one of the hardest part of being in charge. If someone flakes, you're still the one responsible. In the world outside of academia, just showing up counts for a whole lot. It's arbitrary at times but it happens.

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One comment I have on this. I had very good teachers in high school, although I hated them. One teacher was AP govt. and she's a teacher I'll never forget. At that time I wanted to go into politics, but she taught the class like the rules of politics. "Play the game" so to speak. Needless to say I didn't do very well, though I passed (I don't play games) So even though I resented my teachers effect on my GPA, she taught me everything about politics (would you compromise your virtue or your message for the arbitrary whims of the "official")

I took two years in Community College (plan to go back next fall) and they taught straight from the book, which after my rigorous high school classes were practically an insult. To me arbitrary attendance rules were so aggravating I actually dropped out (after all, I was putting myself through, and getting A's on everything but attendance). If they were giving quizzes, yeah, I would've made more of a point to go to every class. I mean it's my fault for not sucking it up, but as a working student, I feel my time is valuable, and if I am paying for the classes, it is my decision to go if it is stimulating, as long as I pass their assignments-seems fair to me, but then maybe I've been immature, hence my second upcoming attempt.

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One more rule:

Lab classes require you respect safety regulations. Your attire should be such that it presents no risk of getting caught in machinery, come into contact with an open flame or soak up harmfull substances. However should your religion or ethnic background impose such clothing, exception will be made and one voucher shall be deposited in your account for every lab class you attend.

In a chemistry lab, loose clothing that could come in contact with a flame or soak up dangerous substances is prohibited. This is the case for the veil of moslim women. A moslim woman in Belgium sued a university because she considered this policy diminished her changes of becoming a pharmacologist. Some universities accept any clothing as long as it not inflammable, but this university said it didn't want to waste precious class-time by inspecting veils before the start :lol: .

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I took two years in Community College (plan to go back next fall) and they taught straight from the book, which after my rigorous high school classes were practically an insult.

I'm in this same boat myself. Currently I'm taking classes online, which is, well, extremely bizarre. No teaching is going on . . . while I'm having to consider things I hadn't really thought of before and do assignments it's like I'm teaching myself. Strange.

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This is the case for the veil of moslim women. A moslim woman in Belgium sued a university because she considered this policy diminished her changes of becoming a pharmacologist.

I wonder what she's going to do when she applies for a job at a pharmacy and they require her to wear scrubs. Will she complain that its her right to get fuzz in people's prescriptions? Her right to appear unprofessional?

I don't think there are any Moslems where I work . . . unless they don't wear the scarves, turbans, etc. Given, that may be because what we do is ALSO against their religion . . . I know Jehovah's Witnesses can't have anything to do with blood and tissue donation.

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I'm in this same boat myself.  Currently I'm taking classes online, which is, well, extremely bizarre.  No teaching is going on . . . while I'm having to consider things I hadn't really thought of before and do assignments it's like I'm teaching myself.  Strange.

I'll be doing that when I start back in Sept. Entirely on line schooling, but they have video conferences and chat rooms and forums like this I guess. It will be an experience but I'm trying to go in for E-business so I guess it will be good practice. I won't have to worry about absences, that's for sure :) You can log in whenever is convenient and there's no set class time.

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