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Letters to young people: Ents

Student who failed class asks for recommendations of what to do next time. Response:


You got a 67.7% on your midterm.
You got a 58% on your … paper.
You got a 72.5% on your … project.
With generous adjustment (which everyone in the class got), you got only 27% on your final.
You skipped a tremendous number of forum posts …. The syllabus specified these were part of your grade.
Your class participation rates were fine, though you sometimes seemed lost.
You had two more absences than an acceptable number; that alone took two points off your final grade and should have taken off more.

The major problem in the majority of your assignments was you simply didn’t answer all of the questions. On the final particularly. I gave you a list of things to answer, and you skipped a bunch of them. Just don’t do that. Or skip homework assignments. Or class. Just showing up constitutes a significant part of your grade, not to mention people’s judgment of whether you’re a decent worker.

Try to just show up. I could see when you came to my office hours that you were hugely stressed out, maybe to the point of panic attacks where you couldn’t talk. I get that way myself; I know how it is. Counseling has helped me immensely in coping with panicking like that. Have you checked in with campus counseling resources?

Perhaps my most important suggestion is this: You said to me at one point you, shall we say, had to “be an ENT” in order to complete a paper for my class. I was so surprised at the time that I didn’t think to say what I should have, which is this: There’s relaxing as an ent, and then there’s doing things that disrupt your life. I know plenty of ents. Some of my best friends are ents. But I’ve seen enough of the ent lifestyle to know if you have to be an ent in order to complete papers, or to function in your daily life, you have a problem. The diagnostic psychological manual definition of an addiction, really. It’s not just a matter of spending some relaxing time hugging trees way up in the mountains with other ents. My strongest advice to you is to deal with that problem before it takes you down.

(You know why I’m putting it that way and sending this [this way], right? Remember Rambam’s lecture.)

Listen to Baba Ram Dass and George Harrison, hon. Be Here Now.
Dr. *     *     *

LOL I lied. None of my best friends are ents. (That’s implied by “some of my best friends,” though, nu?) And I totally just became That Adult who uses what seems like hip slang, probably isn’t, probably wrong. Who fucking cares, though. It’s all in Urban Dictionary. And I’ve always hated that brain-dead habit of Certain Types who continue to act like 420 is somehow secret code that somehow isn’t totally clear to everyone who’s not brain dead.

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