Previously on Vacant Expressions I had discussed how to get
along with many facets of society, be they robotic law enforcement,
roommates who love boy bands or females. Today I’m making it an
official series, and proudly continuing it with a practical
discussion of how to get along with teachers. This skill is
especially important now, on the home stretch, just before
It’s every student’s nightmare to find themselves on the border,
straddling the line between fail and pass, B and C, good and evil.
As finals draw ever closer, there are two paths to success for
someone in this position. One is to buckle down and study and go to
every class. This path is for conformos and lamewads. Whenever
mankind discovers an ethical uphill struggle that requires buckling
down or a path less traveled by, he bulldozes it and puts in a nice
paved expressway. I hope this guide to the second path is like a
bulldozer dropped in the expressway of your life.
First, you have to prioritize. You don’t have time to attend all
your classes and talk to all your teachers, you’re a busy person.
Your mattress and pillow are lonely without you. And if you think
about it, nobody ever looks at anything but your cumulative GPA
anyway. If you get a B in one class and a D in another, it’s like
you got a C in both. It’s like every child learns, two wrongs don’t
make a right, but a mostly wrong and a partially right make a
comfortable moral gray fog you can hide in until danger passes.
So pick your easiest class and go to it like a bulldozer on a
foggy expressway. But how? Think about it. Who controls your grade,
your homework, the very fabric of your educational universe,
spinning your fate like some Greek god? Who, conversely, is the
weak link in the educational chains sealing your fate? Who really
loves long, pointless metaphors? Teachers.
There are two types of teachers at a college – ‘large class”
teachers and “small class” teachers. Both of them have the critical
information about the final, but you have to approach the types
differently. Here’s a simple experiment to distinguish which type
you’re dealing with. During class, take out a foghorn and give it a
toot. If you can’t hear the foghorn over the constant stream of
student chatter, you have a “large class” teacher. If the teacher
asks you by your first name to leave and not come back, you are
dealing with a “small class” teacher.
If you have a large class teacher, you can simply ask them what
will be on the final. You have to be careful how you say this.
Right: “It would help me focus my studying if you could tell me
what might be most important on the test. Are there any chapters or
study guides I should focus on?”
Wrong: “Here’s a twenty. Hook me up.”
As the above example shows, it’s important you pick what you say
carefully, and never bribe below a fifty.
Small class teachers can be approached much the same way, but
they’ve come to know you over time, and will be suspicious if you
suddenly care about academics. The best bet with teachers who know
you is to ask for help studying in a way that is honest and
respects their intelligence, as in the following example.
Right: “The spirits of Finals Past, Finals Present and Finals
Yet-To-Come told me that if I didn’t mend my lazy ways I would live
with my parents forever and ever.”
Wrong: “You’ll get your pills back when I pass.”
The wrong path is very wrong because you never want an
unmedicated teacher grading your test. Also morals.
So don’t think of the teacher as the faceless enemy trying to
drag you into an abyss of unending torment and suffering. Teachers
are people too and hence are weak and friendly. Think of them as
the gas stations for your bulldozer, and soon your GPA will provide
smooth sailing for the expressway of your life.
John is a junior studying English.