View Full Version : Incompetents and Idiots and Bears, Oh My!

01-08-2010, 02:14 PM
So I guess this will probably end up just another rant on the myriad small details that grate on my life. I seem to have been born without the small temperamental variances which act as a sort of mental lubricant, those which allow other minds to slide past the glaringly out-of-place in their own lives and to coexist with the slightly incongruous and ever-so-small social rough edges at the periphery of our experiences.

That second sentence has nothing to do with what I'm going to talk about. It also has nothing to do with the thread title, which I consider pleasingly witty. I just enjoyed where the sentence was going, so I let the thought finish itself. Now off to the next topic!

As some of you know, I'm currently working on my Bachelor's degree in Anthropology. As most if not all of you don't know, this is my fifth year, and I'm basically taking the required courses to graduate. One of those courses is a field research course, and I'm examining the attitudes of Canadians towards immigrants, especially in the securing of privileged identity through a discourse of multiculturalism. It's not my best work, but at this time it is my most expansive. Anyway.

So for this course I have made a stunning breakthrough of my own, and it is this – my Teaching Assistant is the worst in the world. In the ENTIRE. WORLD. There is not a country in the world, a hovel in some pygmy village, an oxygen-lacking mountain structure, a Miss America pageant or a marker-factory anywhere on the globe who can claim to hide within it a more incompetent person. I went to the first tutorial and never went back after seeing her deflect question after question on basic terms like hegemony or positivism. She is clueless. What's more, she doesn't care.

Whatever. That's fine. But I had a Korean TA in my second year who didn't speak a word of English who was better than this.

I come back from my vacation after having submitted a study proposal – on the aforementioned topic – and I was expecting to get my grade and approval back. There are a hundred of us in the class, and apparently most of us would see our months until April hinge on one decision – the Ethics Form. Possibility A – approved. B – Approved with Revisions. C – Rejected.

I may have been extremely lazy on the informed consent form, but I fully expected possibility B. Like I said, not my best work. Anywho, I get my paper back and am immediately shocked to find out I got a D. As in the grade, not the approval, since there was no possibility D. Keep up!

WHAT?! I meant what I said when I told you it wasn't my best work, but “not my best work” means a B. At least. I've never gotten a D in any Anthropology course, ever. And not only that, but this wasn't a half-assed essay. I did the work, finished the readings, researched my subject and submitted a generally timely and cohesive essay which may have been a little rough around the edges, but no way I deserved a D! I read on and my eyes get wider and wider. I added an 'IN' to my bibliography (a move I've seen on many a professors' syllabus) and there's an arrow on the page pointing from nothing to another patch of nothing, and my grade for the bibliography is a 5/10? Something's not right here. I flip to my introduction and am told to define what 'immigrant,' 'Canadian,' and 'multiculturalism' mean in the context of my work. In case you weren't paying attention, my work is to find out what those words mean and how they're used. ARGHARHGHAOUEGBAAZUPIBH

Alright, fine. I didn't do well (still going to see the professor about this, I won't stand for it). I flip to the Ethics form – the ENTIRE PURPOSE for submitting the proposal in the first place. Aside from my own entries, it's blank. Puzzled, I flip back to the beginning, then to the last page. Maybe it's just a stamp or something. Then I think, maybe it's on the back of one of the pages – without even pausing to examine the ridiculousness of my thought. Flip, flip, flip. No stamps on the backs of pages.

Out of the corner of my now-glazing vision I see my classmates going through a similar process. Then the sharpest pencil in the box gives voice to our collective thought.

“So, uh, how do we know if it's approved?”

Dead silence from the TA.

After the murderous haze lifts from my eyes I understand that somehow in her rush to get to Halifax and go skiing she hadn't realized that she was supposed to collect our assignments written for the Ethics Board and give them to... the Ethics Board.

This woman is a moron is what I'm saying here. I can't even go on any more. It's too much. And I still have a D.

PS - Sorry I didn't go on about something random over the holidays. I know you all love it. But I'm back now.

01-08-2010, 02:30 PM
That sounds positively maddening. Tell us if/when this gets straightened out.

01-08-2010, 09:44 PM
Obviously I didn't read your work, but it seems unlikely that you would receive such a terrible grade for minor mistakes like the lack of a few definitions while albeit important are not all that crucial given their simplicity in such a overarching project. What else did the professor say you did wrong?

01-08-2010, 10:09 PM
Shit man. This reminds me of the plagiarism thread I made last year... professor who gave me A's and B's all semester on everything, and then failed my last exam and my last paper (which were of identical formats and subjects to exams and papers I got A's and B's on earlier in the semester), giving me a C overall... I've never failed anything in my degree - and the lowest grade I received that entire semester was a C+/B-. Then he pulled this dodging bullshit where he kept making excuses or ignoring me when I wanted to meet with him to talk about it. I knew he was extremely angry during grading (was convinced literally half the class had plagiarized their papers), and I knew that many, many people in the class were angry about their final grades... so I think he just stamped really low grades on everyone's papers/exams, and headed home to Buffalo for his vacation asap.

Fucking sucks. I never was actually able to do anything about it, but maybe you can since she's just a TA and not the prof. I really feel for you... it's bullshit, and it's the worst when it's something you're passionate about - something directed toward what you really wanna do with your life. Seriously, good luck. This girl sounds like a complete fucking moron and should be kicked out of grad school.

01-08-2010, 11:17 PM
Oh, man. I can totally fucking relate.

Personally I don't think TA's should have the authority to grade any substantial piece of work (long essays / big tests and exams). But that's just me. Anyway.

I had to do a paper that was a report of a "Breaching Experiment" that we conducted individually for my sociology class. Sociology 101, mind you. Not a writing course, not a high level course, just a run of the mill intro course. I get a C+ on my paper. "Wonder why I got this low," I thought. Well, it wasn't content. It was that the TA is a moron. Her first criticism was that "a couple concepts could have been flushed out more." That's fair, I felt about the paper the same way you did, Thibault. Her second criticism was, "I found your writing kind of confusing." Tough shit, learn to read; it really wasn't confusing at all. My friend who knows nothing about sociology was able to follow it fine while proofreading. Her third and final critique was that I should read it out loud to myself to try to avoid awkwardness and I should visit the writing studio.

Excuse me, this is a report of an experiment, not a narration or even an exposition. Making it sound smooth and flowery might make it a bit nicer but in no way adds to the content, which is what this course / paper should have been concerned with. Furthermore, most of her comments made no sense. In one place she told me a paragraph was too long. Really? In another, she underlined a quotation from one of my readings and told me to use the guy's exact words. Uh, the quotations kind of mean I did. The most annoying was on my thesis, she wrote, "State your experiment in your thesis." You're right, I should probably do that. By starting off my thesis with "In my experiment of..." I was totally neglecting that.

Ughafldasjdsal. It's so sickening. And due to it being 30% of our grade, that C+ more or less knocked me out of an A before mid-semester.

01-09-2010, 05:47 AM
Studying in a foreign university system, don't really get what TA's and why they get to grade shit. We have doctorate students who occasionally hold courses/teach/grade but they tend to be really cool since they're not as far removed from the student life as professors/other teachers.

But yeah, that sucks, hope you can get some justice on the matter.

01-09-2010, 06:49 AM
Every school has at least one completely idiotic professor.

There was one time i failed an exam about Greek history, and i didn't have any clue why i failed it. I checked my answers after the exam, and according to the book (which i used for studying and was written by the professor himself) my answers were correct and very detailed (there were 3 questions to answer, and each of my answers was more than an A4 page long, you had to answer the questions in the form of small essays). Then a week later we had to go to a discussion with the professor to learn the results of the test. I've waited there for several hours (i still don't know why that idiot couldn't submit the results on the university's internet page) only to learn i failed. In fact i had about 10 points less than the previous time on the same exam, despite that previous time i didn't have a clue and MADE UP all the answers (which were about 5 sentences long each). I was so pissed off i didn't even try to argue (it wouldn't help anyway, many have tried), i just got the hell out of the professor's cabinet before i would loose control and smash his head with something.

And a few months ago i finally learned why i failed. One of my schoolmates had the guts to ask the professor why he failed the exam despite writing the correct answers (he was in the same situation as me), and professor replied that he had to raise the criteria very high, otherwise too much people would pass the exam! BULLSHIT! So the result was about 60-70% students failing the exam, and it wasn't even our fault. If the criteria would be unchanged i would probably get the grade at least 7-8 out of 10... So there goes my studying and the hard work.

01-09-2010, 11:06 AM
Well, either way after a grade like that I would have gone to talk to the professor, whether or not she was the one who'd graded me. I won't sit still and accept a grade I believe is unfair.

It's partly because the grade is bad, sure - but it's mostly because I know the value of my own work. Some of it isn't fantastic, some of it manages to be decent. But all of it is relatively solid in that it's researched and thought out.

It just gets me because I specifically isolated and flagged terms like multiculturalism and "Canadian" as being important to investigate, and she penalized me for not defining those! If I define them before doing the research then what the hell's the point?

01-09-2010, 05:00 PM
Seriously man, if you know the names of any of your classmates, get them in on it and talk to the dean. Your fourth year research is super important and the fastest/best way I find to straighten people out is to go high up. What this TA is doing is totally unacceptable, irresponsible and people like that should be replaced. A girl from a class of mine last year met with the dean regarding a prof we had and immediately the prof totally changed his teaching style. Even if you just email them on this matter you will probably see some big results.

01-10-2010, 08:14 AM
You need to define what "incompetents", "idiots" and "bears" mean in the context of this rant.

B - approved with revisions.

01-10-2010, 04:27 PM
i had this class once where we were graded by only essay which was to be 20 pages long. i finished this task in one day in order to turn it in the next. I show up and some dude was like, "your teacher just had a stroke. turn in your papers and leave." i think we all got A's.