Good student: “When will the midterm be?”
Me: “Why do you care?”
Good student: “Um… I’d like to be able to plan when I should study for it.”
Me: “Oh, okay. I don’t know when it’s going to be.”
Good student: “Um… Okay. What’s it going to cover?”
Me: “I’m not sure, but it’ll be really great!”
Good student: “That’s good, I guess. Can you be more specific?”
Me: “Not really. But why do you care?”
Good student: “Well, you’re the professor!”
Me: “I am? That’s odd. You know, I got mostly Cs and Ds in college. Maybe you shouldn’t be listening to me.”
Good student: “But you do have a PhD, right?”
Me: “Sure, but any jerk can get a PhD. Just think about all your professors. It can’t be that hard!”
The author presents this as a special delivery of some much-needed real-world wisdom to the boringly conformist “good student.” But I think it comes off as free-floating nastiness directed at a kid asking a perfectly reasonable question. Discuss.
Update: Actually, I think what follows this exchange makes it even a little worse:
This sends my “good” students into conniption fits. My cynical students enjoy watching these interactions.
Basically, I think I like my cynical bad students more than my good students because the good students are wrong and the cynical bad students are right.
So yeah — it’s not just pure nastiness, it’s served with a charming helping of “humiliate the disfavored student in public while the favored students look on and enjoy.”