Self Examination

It has been quite a while since the last installment of the bizarre and completely nonsensical ramblings of yours truly and for those of you who’ve been disappointed, I sincerely apologize. For those of you who’ve been relieved, I promise that I’ll try to make it up to you.

The reason that I’ve been unusually silent is that the start of every new calendar year is traditionally reserved for reflection on your life’s journey, resolutions that this year won’t be as meaningless and horribly predictable as the last, and the bitter tears of realization that 13 days into it you’ve already abandoned all your lofty goals and affirmations.

Clearly this is a trying time of the year for many people and I wanted to give everyone the space they needed to deal with it. While this may seem uncharacteristically kind of me, my own New Year’s Reflection has revealed to me that I’m actually only 75% snark and sarcasm. The rest of me is filled with random Jeopardy trivia, a notionally normal need for alliteration, and a small suspicion that we are being mocked by dolphins.

The students here at the Campus of Calamity are undergoing their own period of reflection and assessment, but since they are perfect creatures they have dispensed already with the weighty questions that occupy our time; those of money, family, ethics, health, religion, and pizza, and are instead focusing all of their efforts on the more abstract concepts of algebra, literature, history, and wood shop. Yes, it is time for Final Exams!

It’s that magical time of the semester when students desperately attempt to convince everyone around them that they haven’t really spent the last several weeks alternately drooling on themselves or drawing on the desk (a claim only slightly undermined by the persistent smell of pot on their clothes) and have been paying such close attention to the subject matter that there is really no need to take the final at all.

Of course the Final Exam is a tradition in education dating all the way back to the Dark Ages, when apprentices would be slowly lowered over a fire while being pelted with rotten fruit and forced to compare and contrast tanning methods common to the indigenous people of France with those of of Crete. (This is where the phrase “Trial by Fire” came from.) Normally of course, highly skilled teachers would ignore such desperate pleas from their students and proceed directly to rubbing our hands together and cackling madly with evil delight at the thought of watching our students desperately try to come up with any answer besides “IDK”, but in these enlightened times it is actually possible that the student is correct and they don’t have to take the final exam.

Our Fearless Leaders, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that if a student manages a C or better and comes to class more often than not, then there is really no reason for them to take the exam and they can be “exempt.” I’ll confess that when I was first informed of this policy I thought that my esteemed colleagues were having some fun with the new guy, but I should have remembered where I was and that the rule of thumb is that the more ridiculous the idea, the better the chance that it will be adopted immediately and without question.

The only thing more pathetic than allowing students who meet these requirements to skip their exams is the extremely small number of students who actually qualify. Normally I would be the first to mock the idiocy of allowing students to be exempt from their exams. Exactly what are we teaching our students with this policy? That mediocrity is acceptable and that as long as you show up you’ll get a free pass?

As this is a new year, I’ll let that slide and refrain from mentioning it. Isn’t it amazing how helpful a little self examination can be?

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