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The Gimmes - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
May 27th, 2003
12:34 am


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The Gimmes
The semester ends next week, and exam season is upon us once more, and with it, the gimmes: Again and again people approach me after class and ask me to e-mail them my class notes. I use a portable computer in class, and my class notes are all in computer documents (except for Greek), so it's no bother at all to do so. I guess that's at least part of the reason they turn to me in the first place.

But I usually refuse: it seems to me that most of these people have just not bothered to take notes in class, or to read the assigned reading, and want my notes as a shortcut to passing the exam. I hate to take part in that, so I don't cooperate.

Some of them just cheerfully ask for the notes, some are apologetic and offer mumbled explanations, some plainly and obviously lie (e.g. a person who told me she lost her notebook and all her notes, when I know for a fact that she never took notes in this class).

I do like helping people, and I gladly e-mail people class notes for specific lessons they had missed, but I also believe in the important of individual academic work. If these people are not serious about this course, there's a good chance they're not serious about other courses, and helping them get away with it is helping to promote bad scholarship. I want no part of that.

I hate having to refuse, though. It's unpleasant. Obviously the refused may like me less, but that's not the main issue -- I'm willing to lose popularity for my ideals; it just feels unpleasant to refuse a plea for help, however justifiably. I wish they'd just stop.

Current Mood: quiet
Current Music: Pink Floyd -- Sorrow

(10 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2003 03:36 pm (UTC)
This was one of the nice things about being a TA (uh, "teaching assistant"). We had to take notes for the benefit of students who were out sick, at an athletic competition, etc., but we only had to give notes to those students who actually had one of those good excuses. The rest were, quite explicitly, on their own. So I got to feel all nice and helpful to the students who deserved a break, but smugly horde my (encyclopedic, neatly written) notes otherwise :).
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2003 06:51 pm (UTC)
Being opposed to taking notes altogether (I need eye contact with the lecturer), I came to an agreement with a friend: he would take the notes, and I would go through the collected examinations of past years and summarize most of the required reading. Together we would study until we solved all the problems we could find. Gods, this was ten years ago...

I understood note-takers who like to study alone, but preferred studying with someone else. Nobody ever took me for a parasite or an idler (there were some problems that only I could solve, and I would always share my solutions with others before the exam).
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2003 11:16 pm (UTC)

I hear you...


ובכל זאת, הערה קטנה: אי אפשר להשקיע אותה כמות מאמץ בכל הקורסים. בחירות צריכות להעשות. על כן, יתכן שאותם אלו שמבקשים ממך את הסיכומים מסכמים קורסים אחרים שמעניינים אותם יותר.

Date:May 26th, 2003 11:33 pm (UTC)

Bad scholarship?

I can't take proper notes at class. Writing down clearly in real time is too difficult for me. As my courses are all math based, I can't use a laptop (even if I could afford one).
I rely on library books and other people's class notes. I don't think taking notes in class is part of good scholarship. This is not highschool - the final exam (paper, whatever) is a thorough test of the student's understanding of the material. It's a good enough measure of the student's scholarship.
In fact, I find your attitude condescending and unhelpful. If I could easily prepare electronic summaries of the material in my courses, I'd publish them online for the benefit of my fellow students.

[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2003 01:56 pm (UTC)

Re: Bad scholarship?

I couldn't agree more.
Personally, I'm very good at integrating the material I was exposed to, I'm good at coming up with angles other people haven't thought of, I'm good at critical thingking, I'm a pretty good public speaker, and I tend to be involved in discussions in class, I am also, however, very bad at taking notes, so I rely on other people letting me copy their notes, or emailing them to me.
In my department, you'll never get good grades by simply memorizing class notes, not only because we have tons of articles to read, but also because we are mostly graded on take home exams or papers, which involve actually putting some thought into the subject at hand, not to mention your own analysis of the integrated material, writing skills, etc.
Regardless, I have a tendency to respect people's choices as adults. It is not for me to criticize the way someone chooses (or needs) to spend their time while paying good money for a higher education, or to reprimand adults for the choices they make simply because I made other choices, and if I can help someone without it inconveniencing me terribly, I will, always. If all they want is to pass a class, that's their problem. They're the ones that are missing out, in my opinion, but I respect that choice too, and I will do what I can to help them with that goal. If they want to learn, and missed classes or whatever, that's cool too. Either way, why they need my help is not up for discussion, IMO, and the fact that they asked me for something does not mean they need to explain their need, their circumstances, or their goals to me. I find the assumption that someone needs to justify theirself to the person they're asking to help them, extremely condescending, and frankly, I'm disappointed to learn you think this way.
Date:May 28th, 2003 08:24 am (UTC)

Re: Bad scholarship?

I agree with Ori.
I didn't learn to take notes during class until University (except in Biology class, where I had an excellent teacher at High school), so for a host of subjects I depended on photocopied notes to get by.
In University, I sometimes photocopied, other times let others photocopy from me (and felt some pride in that: People found my notes effective and easy to follow).
Giving notes is also a basic form of networking - you do someone a favor, you may be able to ask them for one later on, should the need arise.

Dotan (http://corky.net/dotan/)
Date:May 27th, 2003 01:23 am (UTC)
Notes have never worked for me. I need to think on the material that is being presented (and in seminars, actively engage with the people in discussing the material). The most I have ever done is to jot down notes for future reading/research.

As for your problem, I think I would have shared. I could never refuse a plea for academic help - I guess that helping people learn my subjects makes me happy. Not everybody takes the hard and thorough ways, whatever they are, yet if at the end of the day they will remember some of the material due to my explanations (or notes), I am satisfied.

Renee (http://glosses.net)
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2003 01:23 am (UTC)

I know exactly what you're talking about...

I know the type of people who usually ask for notes.
You should see who's in front of you.
Some may be as commented before, decent students who do make an effort, and might not manage a specific class.
But others, can be parasites who doesn't work too hard during the semester and then study their asses before the test with your material.

I hated to give my notes away to people as well. (although I had hand written notes, and it was more complicated as they had to take it away from me for a few days in order to prepare copies... which is a little different.)
[User Picture]
Date:May 27th, 2003 02:06 am (UTC)

Bad Karma, dude

I agree with calanya, some people who may seem to you like slacking off, simply know they learn best by listening closely, and get distracted by writing.
You're not educating them, you're just making them spite you.
[User Picture]
Date:May 29th, 2003 07:42 am (UTC)

I have to second that. If it weren't much trouble, I'd mail anything to anyone.
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