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Tuesday, February 21, 2006


[UPDATE: I see that Simplicius has posted about the same story; no doubt professors across the country are blogging about this story. I don't consider the emails quoted below to fall into the 2% category--those I can't bring myself to quote here--but, among that other 98% I'd guess there's about 10% that actually make me laugh out loud in my office when I get them. These are from that category.]

Here's a story about students' emails to professors in the NY Times. My favorite part:
Jennifer Schultens, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of California, Davis, received this e-mail message last September from a student in her calculus course: "Should I buy a binder or a subject notebook? Since I'm a freshman, I'm not sure how to shop for school supplies. Would you let me know your recommendations? Thank you!"
This is the kind of email I receive at least once a week while teaching. Here's a few I've received over the years:
I was just wondering. Are we supposed to write intros and conclusions for these papers?

i will be quite late to class...i'm sorry but i lost my contact and need to find it and i don't want to leave because i don't want my roomate to step on it (that actually happened before, it got all bent-i have hard contacts) so am going to look for a while more...sigh sorry

I was not able to come to class today because over the summer I had a terrible case of shingles that took me out of work for a month and I was hospitalized, and a couple of sores have come back recently, and since it is contagious, I had to go back on my antibiotics, and of course, it is very uncomfotable to sit in class.

I was unable to attend class today due to the fact that I have a terrible cold and I am experiencing woman troubles.

I had a question about the grading of the exam that we got back last Thursday in class. I was not sure if my "49" was my the final percentage test grade or if "49" was just the amount of points that you gave me. If it is just the points, what was the total points for the whole exam and then would I just take 49 and divide it by the total points to get my overall percentage? [NB: The "total points for the whole exam" was ... 100]

Thank you for helping me out. I am a little unclear as to how to make an "argument."
That last one is just delightful. The scare quotes really seal the deal.

  • At 2/21/2006 03:03:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Oh, come on, Schultens's student was cute. I love confused but eager first-years.

    That sounds much worse than it should.


  • At 2/21/2006 03:09:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    see my update for clarification...


  • At 2/21/2006 04:25:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Yes, laugh out funny is right. I love those too.


  • At 2/22/2006 05:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Today I got this email. "Dear Professor. I have an idea of how I could do better on the midterm. You could give me your notes."

    That chipper little note came hard on the heels of the student who asked me about a book we haven't, and won't be reading in my huge lecture class. She introduced her query with: "you seem to know about these things." My professorial authority must surround me like a halo.


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