More Mysteries Concerning Students


Why do students have a overwhelming propensity to copy the questions I ask them on assignments, either by cutting and pasting the text or longhand, and then go onto answer the question?

Is this just my students? Did I miss something? Is this something I should have been doing throughout school? I don’t understand. I know what I’m asking because I wrote it. There is no need to restate the questions verbatim. On an essay question on an exam I can understand because it can be a memory device of sorts, but on a mundane assignment it’s very annoying simply because it takes me longer to find the answer. This adds up when you have four sections of the same course. There is no need to copy the directions verbatim, e.g. change the quantity and quality in the following propositions, as well as those propositions themselves and then write the answer to the question. Or, another example. There simply is no need–if say, I ask you to translate an argument in ordinary language using symbolic logic or to translate it into a categorical syllogism–to copy the given argument. Please, just translate!

Maybe I’m too sensitive…

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The Awesomeness of Students: Part III


Another dispatch from the front lines of teaching my wacky (but mostly endearing) students (see also here and here and here). I had an email exchange with a student in my Logic and Critical Thinking course today. This student, it should be known, had kept up with the material, showed up for class regularly until right before the midterm. I have not seen her since the midterm, an exam she failed miserably. Since then, no student. This morning I got out of bed, grabbed my coffee and opened my email (half expecting news that Condi Rice got herself blown up) to an email from this student, “Dr. Shahar, are you using the same text next semester?” I responded most likely, but added that I will be adding another text to the required reading list. I also expressed concern that I hadn’t seen her, asked if everything was ok etc. Oh yes, she responded, “I decided months ago that I was going to retake the class. Thanks for your response!” Out of a sickening morbid curiosity I checked the roster for my Logic class next semester and guess what, she’s taking the class…again…with me. Why do students think this is a good idea? In fact, even with her excellent attendance for the first 4 weeks she was on the whole, not a good student: aside from being combative she didn’t take any of my suggestions, never attempted to redo any of her failing assignments after I offered, never showed up at office hours, scheduled appointments with me 3 times never to show up and continued to sign all her email correspondence with me “Still confused.” I mean really: what the fuck?

In Which I Finally Admit to Myself That I Do Not Get Fear and Trembling


So I am reading Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling again and I am having a hard time with it this time around, I think primarily because I have always assumed that I knew what it was about.  If one takes the whole Abraham story as a kind of uber-example of faith and faith here would have nothing to do with “belief” but would be “the highest passion in a person,” then I am not sure what the book is really about.  Now I know exactly how to help myself understand this book, that is, by going to a ton of secondary literature that would give me all I need: context, multiple interpretations, ideas and etc. But I am courageously resisting the temptation because I feel that it is important that I only deal with this particular text – there is no reason why I feel this way, but I am sticking to it.   I think my primary confusion comes from the fact that I actually took seriously the multiple prefaces to the book’s three chapters.  I believe that by taking those somewhat annoying and seemingly purposeless introductions I have realized that the book is really not about Abraham and his particular story but about this strange “hero/knight of faith” that, in Preliminary Expectoration is described in very interesting terms:   Continue reading