Teachers work hard every day trying to inspire young people to seek knowledge. But how can you teach someone who thinks they know better than everyone else?
This is based on the AskReddit thread "What's the most pretentious thing you've heard a student say?" Link at the end of the article.
There is no baby!
It was my first day teaching this group in pre-school, and I had an unpleasant conversation with one of the girls in the class:
Her: “Do you have a baby?”
Me: “No, I don’t.”
Her: “Is the baby at home?”
Me: “I don’t have a baby.”
Her: “The baby is in your belly?”
Me: “I do not have a baby, Maria.”
Her: “In the sky?”
Me: “I never had a baby, Maria.”
I mean, she was three years old.
Reading To Kill A Mockingbird
After finishing To Kill a Mockingbird: “Why did we read this? Racism is over.”
We live in Mississippi. He was white.
This obnoxious student
I had a history teacher in (a private) high-school that had one of his students say “I pay your salary” multiple times whenever he got called out for being obnoxious or disruptive. One day it was the last straw.
The teacher stopped the class, pulled out a calculator, went to the chalkboard and did a step-by-step calculation that began with how much he earned per hour of giving classes and ultimately ended in how much each student actually paid him to teach (it was a ridiculously low figure).
He then went to his desk, pulled out his wallet and handed out the money equivalent of one year of classes to the student.
“Here, that’s what you pay me for a whole year of teaching. I’m returning your money so you don’t have to go to attend to any of my classes anymore for the rest of this year.”
The guy ended up quitting from school after this, probably out of shame. Good riddance, I say, because that was one of the most coherent, charismatic and clear-headed teachers I ever had. I can’t imagine how someone could say something like this to any teacher, especially him.
Something you don’t know
I once overheard a student in the college level science major specific class that I teach to say “I wonder if this teacher will be able to tell me something I don’t already know.” Apparently, I did, because he failed the class with a 32%.
Making more than a public school teacher
From a senior who can barely read or write after I told him he needed to check his essay for spelling/grammar errors:
“Whatever man, I’m going to come back here in five years and make way more than you.”
I said considering I’m a public school teacher, I certainly hope that he will make more than me.
Who is he?
I gave a student a C on a philosophy paper, and she says to me, “Do you know my father is?” To this day, I have no idea, but the grade didn’t change.
No need to learn the basics
“I don’t really need to learn this kind of basic accounting. I’m definitely going to get a job at Goldman Sachs” – To me. His teachers assistant.
Not a problem from this straight A student
“I’m a 4.0 student on the dean’s list so academic misconduct won’t be a problem for me.” I’m going to be super wary of all this guy’s papers…
Student: “I don’t deserve an F you jerk!”
Professor: “I know, but it’s as low as I can give you.”
Mistakes made on purpose, sure…
I’m a professor in a STEM field who teaches and supervises graduate student research. One of the grad students had been struggling with writing the draft of her first manuscript on her PhD research. I found several factual errors in the draft and pointed them out, plus the writing itself needed work. Her reply to me: “I made those mistakes on purpose to test you by seeing if you’d find them.” Yeah, sure. Sigh.
The only ones that can pass the class
“We’re the only students who have a chance of passing the exam so you should just focus on us.”
She was referring to herself and three other classmates. She was also loud enough for the entire class to hear.
Who made it big?
“Next year, you’re still going to be here teaching crap, and I’m going to be making it big in the real world.”
He got held back. He is not in my class this year.
Using tuition money for the wedding
I have a student that refuses to do anything the way other students do it.
He’s never been able to make a single regularly-scheduled workshop or presentation (3 years now). Oh, medical school pre-requisites? They don’t apply to him. He once requested that I come in on a Saturday to meet with him because my regular office hours “didn’t work for him.”
He was my student for 2 years, but now he is handled by one of my colleagues. I warned her. She didn’t believe me…until he walked in to her office this morning to tell her he can’t make any of the required workshops he needs to attend, but since he already filled out the paperwork, that’s cool, right?
He would also like us to find a way for him to graduate early because he just got engaged and wants to use his tuition money for the wedding or something. I don’t know. I don’t really listen to him anymore.
All of you, get out!
Girl was in surgery rotation in medical school. Despite being told to be careful, she knocks over a sterile instrument tray right before they’re about to cut into the person who was already under anesthesia.
The lead surgeon flips his lid and tells all the students to get out.
“You can’t kick me out of here, I’m paying for this.”
She had to look through the windows into the operating room for 2 weeks.
No, just no!
A middle schooler: “I’m only taking Spanish so I can tell my housekeeper what she needs to do.”
Senior Guy trying to impress Frosh Girl: “And, of course, I AM the Commodore of the sailing club.”
Frosh Girl was not impressed.
“Check your privilege. You’re here to teach me, not monitor my cell phone usage.”
The most watched game in… the world?
Was a teaching assistant and was grading college essays. I had a heated back and forth with a student who based his essay on the fact that the NFL is “the biggest” and the Super Bowl is “the most watched game in the world.”
I tried to make an argument that America isn’t “the World” and the Cricket World Cup finals had more viewers than the Super Bowl.
But he kept on saying the rest of the world didn’t matter. By the way, I was an International Masters student then who just came from Nigeria.
I’m a high school art teacher.
I was talking about art influences and a kid said, “I am not influenced by anyone. The only art I like is my own.” OK, kid.
She knows everything about to be taught
First year grad student stayed after on Day 1 to tell me, “Just so you know, I’m going to be very bored in your class. But it’s not your fault – I just already know everything you’re going to talk about.”
She completed the course with a D-, failed both of her other classes, lost her funding, and now works at Panda Express.
Anne Frank’s diary
Third year history student here. A girl in my and advanced research tutorial said her reaction to reading Anne Frank’s diary was “just a bit, like, get over it, princess!” And described her as a prissy, angsty teenager.
I guess I’d be pretty angsty too if I couldn’t talk to any of the cute boys AND ALSO THERE WERE NAZIS.
The future spoiled doctor
I was tutoring while in grad school to make some extra cash. I was charging this frat guy $25/hour and after our second or third session he says, “Do you have change for a hundred?”
Me: “No, but you could pay for several sessions at once.”
Him: “Well my mom only ever gives me hundreds! Why can’t she give me smaller bills once in a while?!”
Spoiled guy! he had like $600 in cash on him. He went home every weekend and got all this cash from his mom. I asked him what he wanted to with his life one time.
“I’ll probably be a doctor or something. Everyone always told me I was smart.”
Poor kid couldn’t even pass general chemistry…
Having rich parents is always a plus
A 4th grader: “I don’t need to do good in school. I can go to any college I want. My parents are rich.”
The student that knows a lot of big words
College English class. I said not to dig through a thesaurus for big words because I can tell. “I dislike the pretentious.” A student said, “Well, I know a lot of big words. What’s considered pretentious?”
His word choice told me everything.
What language do shoplifters speak?
“I decided to take this language instead of French this year because my dad owns a store in town. Yeah, we want to know what those shoplifters are saying when they talk in their language.”
Opinions are fact
This is from a 16 year old student arguing about the grade she earned on a research paper:
“My essay doesn’t need any citations because my opinions are fact.”
Just write one page about yourself
My first year teaching, I subbed in a grade 10 English class. It was September, and one of the girls in the class was HEAVILY pregnant (so she would have gotten pregnant in grade 9).
All they had to do in this period was write 1 page about themselves – easy sub lesson!
So I am walking around, checking work, and this girl and her group have done absolutely nothing. So I pop over to them and remind them they only have 20 minutes left and need to get something written on their page.
Without a pause the girl looks up at me and said “Miss – Jesus didn’t write his own bible now did he?” I just walked away.
I’m a student, but our teacher once gave us the whole “If you’re not gonna be respectful, if you think you already know the material, then just leave.” A kid stands up, walks over to the door, realizes that everybody is staring at him, thinks about going to sit back down, but decides on just leaving. The teacher actually let him leave for like 15 minutes before going to get him (this was middle school so he couldn’t leave campus).
Don’t talk back to your professor.
Back in my undergrad days the professor was walking through the Wittig reaction on the board. This was an honors class, so there were only about fifteen of us in the room. One of us, the girl who always sat at the front, ALWAYS had crazy questions. You know the type. Well, she must’ve had a very confused look on her face, because the professor looked to her and asked, “Are you having trouble believing it?” (This is what he’d say whenever we’d have trouble with a mechanism.) She says, “What? Oh, no, I believe it. Just, don’t know if I should trust you. Professor says, “Um… why?” She had a straight face and went, “Well, I mean, you know old chemists. They’re all stuck in their ways and even when the science has changed, they keep on teaching their old, wrong ways. That’s just how it always is, you know. Young scientists are better.”
There was dead silence in the class. I had been doing another class’s homework at the time under my desk and I froze. I could not make myself look up to see this. I just sat there, staring at the floor, completely mind-blown. The professor was bloody ancient, yes. But he also makes six figures a year consulting alone, and is at the top of his field. He KNOWS his stuff. Nearly every lecture had tidbits from discoveries made just that month interspersed in. The girl didn’t even seem to realize she’d said anything wrong. It was just ten straight seconds of completely dead science; I don’t think the professor even knew how to react. At last he just continued on with the lecture without even mentioning it.
That girl, who had previously been the biggest teacher’s pet imaginable, vanished after that. We only saw her in class on exam days and she never said a word. I’m not sure if she’d been trying to make a joke or what, but she apparently realized she’d messed up.
“I’m an engineer. I don’t need to write.”
I taught a universally hated English composition course at my university. It’s a requirement for all students who didn’t test out, especially engineers.
I had a girl come to class and sit in the front row with the nastiest face she could muster so I asked her, “What is your major and why might you need writing skills?” She said, “My mentors and instructors in industrial engineering told me I’ll never have to write again after this class.”
I audibly laughed in her face and then proceeded to talk about how the class not only promotes writing skills, but critical thinking and organization of thought.
It was a rude move and I got a complaint the next day from my director, but I squashed it fast and she dropped my course.
I’ve just never heard of a job where competent writing is not part of the job description, even in engineering you have to communicate with peers.
My wife is a professor at UCLA.
One time a student declared he was too good for the class and that he was going to make it in Hollywood by himself because the class was a waste of time.
He proceeded to serve me breakfast a year later.