Dec 022003
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

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.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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