Today, a light topic for what is a busy weekend for many people. Perhaps you are having a family gathering. I hope so. If we learned anything from the pandemic, it certainly must be that many of us have a strong human need to be around family, particularly on feast days (whatever your religion). So here is my light topic for today:
Sometimes students are confounding. Just inexplicable.
Every year in the course I teach, there is a significant paper due in April, which carries half of the grade weight for the semester. So it is important, and they work on it for more than a month. It is always due on a Monday, which gives them the weekend to finalize it.
Over a decade ago, it was pointed out to me that I had scheduled the due date for the paper on the Monday after Easter. While I always accommodate all religious holidays on an individual basis, it seemed as though many students were planning on traveling, or being with family locally, for the Easter weekend. So quite a few students asked for an extension of the due date for the paper due on the Monday after Easter.
I always build an extra week into the syllabus at this point in the semester, for a number of reasons, but including the possibility of needing to grant an extension of the due date of this major paper.
So it was no problem for me to grant the extension, and I did so, announcing it in class a couple of weeks before the previous due date. I pushed it back a full week, which was - I explained - as much as the syllabus would accommodate, because of activities that followed the paper and built on it.
It was no big deal to grant the extension, and I was glad to do so. It gave my students that year 5 weeks for an assignment that usually takes 4. It made it more than possible for them to do no work whatsoever on it over Easter weekend. A couple of weeks later, my students filled out the student evaluations in our last class together. We had a small party to celebrate finishing the year’s work together.
A couple of months later, after grading all these papers, and reviewing all their other work for the semester, and submitting grades, I received a link to review my student evaluations for the spring semester. The student comments included the usual range of kind and supportive notes, as well as helpful suggestions for improvement, but also the typical (few) off topic comments. This year, one of those really stuck out, and I have occasionally thought of it - with perplexity - this time of year ever since:
He refused to extend the deadline of the big paper he made due the day after Easter.
Needless to say, every year since then, I have checked the date of Easter in the calendar while creating the spring syllabus, and I have never scheduled this due date for - and thus have never had to extend it past - that Monday again. Because sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t win!
Letters of Recommendation
If you are a fan of Agatha Christie mysteries, you probably also have enjoyed some of the TV and movie adaptations of her novels. On TV, David Suchet made an excellent Hercule Poirot, but so did Peter Ustinov in the movies. In 2017, the British actor Kenneth Branagh took on the role in Murder on the Orient Express. That was a good movie, but my recommendation today is his new Poirot role, in Death on the Nile.
Q of the Week
The Q of the Week this week is a Quote from the poet Robert Graves:
There is no money in poetry. But then, there’s no poetry in money either.