Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Follow Your Instructor's Instructions

What if you're writing a college term paper about Religion And Its Place In Government but your instructor has one rule--you can't refer to God. Yet you do so. And your instructor gives you a failing grade. And you are not pleased with the grade.

Who did what wrong, and how should this issue be resolved?

Click here to find out what happens when this is no longer a hypothetical situation.


Kimberly Lloyd said...

Not directly related, but this story reminded me of the anecdote my father told me about a history teacher at his (and my) high school:
It was the teacher's first semester, and I gather he came from a somewhat more homogenous place. A Jewish student in his class wrote a paper perhaps not that different from the one in this story, save that instead of "God", the student wrote "G-d". The teacher, somewhat confused but determined to do his correcting duty, carefully penned in each and every "o". The student, horrified, had to explain to him why she had done what she had done, and apparently she was concerned that now she needed the paper blessed by a rabbi.

Darren said...


Phyllis S said...

The college needs to find a new instructor--because what earthly use is the place if students are limited in the ideas they can proffer because of some (obvious to me) inherent bias on the part of the teacher. I can't help but think the teacher took it as proselytizing-directed at him.

Darren said...

I'm sympathetic to that argument, Phyllis, but I'm also sympathetic to the argument that the student chose the topic and the instructor approved it with that one caveat--which she ignored.

Regardless of whether or not the instructor was "right" to make that restriction, the student didn't challenge the instructor until later. Gotta follow instructions.

Even if they're stupid instructions. That requirement, especially in writing/email, merited a challenge from the word "go".

Anonymous said...

Tangentially related, I assigned an English class an essay which called for them to go out and interview somebody in their related job field and find the answers to a series of questions. It was all very standard stuff designed to give them an idea of how it feels to work in that field, how to get started, etc.

One student "conducted" her "interview" with God, citing passages from the Bible in a rather proselytizing way and did not answer any of the prescribed questions. I failed that paper. She said that I was limiting her freedom of religion. I said that unless she plans on becoming one, God is not a profession that is within her related job field.

Some people. . .

Darren said...

Anonymous, I don't think it's the proselytizing that's the problem, it's that she didn't follow your instructions. Using her "interview technique" she could just as easily have interviewed Abraham Lincoln if she wanted to be President.

Now, if she were Mormon, becoming (a) God *could* be a goal of hers. Still, she didn't follow your instructions. And good for you for assigning a failing grade to the paper.

Additionally, you're not limiting her freedom of religion at all. What a chickencrap argument.

Phyllis S said...

The ignoring of the specific instructions probably is the more important issue here. Since we don't know the instructor's reasoning (or ultimate educational goal) for doing that, I'm compelled after further thought to 1)give him the benefit of the doubt and 2)to wonder if the student isn't another one of these 'I'm special, I'm different, the rules shouldn't apply to me because I don't want them to types.
Not to be judgmental or anything.

Darren said...

You know, Phyllis, you're coming around :-)