“Will we be talking about anything important?” It’s a fair question. Few of the professors in her major talk about anything important.
My response: No response. I simply deleted the email.
*I walked into class the other day and told students to stop emailing me with questions that were already answered in the course syllabus – noting that since it was over one month into the class it was simply embarrassing for them to have not read the syllabus. I argued that taking a class without reading the course syllabus was like taking a job without reading the employment contract.
Later in the class a “studies” major asked “How many tests will we have this semester?”
My response: “Read your syllabus.” (Note: She asked the same question during the next class meeting apparently having forgotten that she already asked the question).
* I recently asked this simple question of a product of one of our fine and academically rigorous “studies” programs: “Did you re-take the GRE?
The answer: “No. I haven't re-took it yet.”
*Here’s another brilliant question from someone who should be majoring in Inappropriate Communication Studies: “We only have two minutes before class begins. Do I have enough time to go to the restroom?”
My response: “I don’t know. I guess that depends on whether you plan to go #1 or #2.”
*Student: “Can we have a study guide for the next test?
Me: “What is your major?”
Student: “Communication Studies.”
Me: “Is this a Communication Studies class?”
Me: “Well, there’s your answer.”
*This question came from a student who ought to be majoring in Entitlement Studies: “Can I take the test earlier in the day - like around ten o’clock?”
My response: “Yes, I plan to offer thirty different administrations of the test – one for each of my students according to his or her personal needs.”
Student: “Are you serious?”
*A new Entitlement Studies major would be fitting for the “studies” student who asked this question: “Could you spell that guy’s name – the one who came up with the theory you just mentioned?”
My response: “Sure. R-O-B-E-R-T.”
Her response: “Could you spell his last name, too?”
My response: “Sure. R-E-A-D—Y-O-U-R—B-O-O-K.”
Her response: “Is his name going to be on the test?”
*And, finally, here’s a great question from a student who has been trained by the finest minds on the Fill-in-the-Blank Studies faculty: “What is a propensity?”
My response: “It is a habit, predisposition, or inclination. For example, people who choose majors or minors ending with the word ‘studies’ have a propensity to ask idiotic questions. But they do not have a propensity to use the dictionary.” (OK, I didn’t actually say that but I thought of it later and I can pretend I said it because it’s my column).
Of course, not all of the stupid questions I get are from students majoring or minoring in Something-or-Another Studies. But they do dominate the field of stupidity in a way that reflects poorly on their respective majors and the university. That is the reason why we need to take a Darwinian approach by getting rid of these departments and forcing these students to attempt to survive in a real academic discipline.
The university will have a better student body after the Fill-in-the-Blank Studies students have all flunked out. The patrons of the local grill will also have more dedicated waitresses. Freed from the rigors of college life the latter might eventually be moved to think. That is, if the mood should suddenly strike them.