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Only in America

December 13, 2011

Despite what I’m going to say about what I see in typical American college, the best students still come to this country and some of the finest and the brightest are from this country.

I have taught for many years in Canada and the US.  I have seen things that were completely unacceptable if Confucius were my witness.  He would probably shake his head in disbelief or assume that this country is on it decline, it’s anything but powerful.  Let me elaborate:

Near any exam you would hear:

“How many questions are there in the final exam?”

It doesn’t really matter.  their exams are usually only slightly less than 2 hours and of course the professor will fill in as many questions as it takes to test you on everything he’s taught.  And besides, if the professor said 5 questions, he could always put number 2 with 2(a), 2(b), 2(c), 2(d), 2(e), 2(f) and 2(g).  And maybe evey parts (i), (ii) and and (iii) for 2(c)!

“The book is too hard to read, can you give us a shorter review?”

Dr. Lou Jianhua was reprimanded in NUS because he handed out a review sheet before the final examination.  And questions on the final exam were almost exactly the same as that of the review sheet!  So literally, if one could do the 10 or 20 questions in the review sheet, one can get a perfect score on his paper.  He mentioned he would put a little more so that he can separate the really good students from the normal hardworking ones.  I took his test and see no difference in his final and the review!  It turns out, this was common practice in America!  Even students expected it!  To me that’s similar to being tested in DMV.

“I know my grades are bad, can you give me some extra work, so that I can earn some extra credit?”

So if students are weak, they can expect some extra credit because they showed some willingness to work harder.  We have to give them credit for everything.  Even attending talks, or showing up the day before Thanksgiving when no other students showed up!  Some professors giving extra credit points becuase students turned up for their office hours.  And you can literally show up for an office hour, chat with the professor about something unrealted to the subject he’s teaching and get that extra point!

“I cannot make it for the exam, my mom had just book our family vacation on that day!”

O the list of excuses is so long, you can anticipate it even if you fore-warn them about missing an exam.  Give an inch and they take a foot, is taken to such an extreme, Confucious eyes will bulge out!  The day of the exam has the most grandmom and grandpa’s death.  They’l produce a legal death certificate (or relative verification) if you want one.

“Can you tell me how many points I should score to get a B?  Or an A?”

Yes, you get that even from a student taking a calculus exam.  As far as I know, if the handouts already mentioned the weightage of each exam and you’ve got a score of every midterm exam and homework, then calculating what you must do to get an A, is basic Mathematics.  One shouldn’t be attempting Calculus (or higher Math), if the simplest of arithmetic is beyond them.

Below is a compiled file featured in the book “F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers” by Richard Benson, and only in America, does one see these answers.

thiese are real homework and assignment from students


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