Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It Was a Minor Thing

Kevin once told me a story of being called into the office by one of his Spanish professors for his failure to attend class regularly while he was at Iowa State. After a few weeks of frustration with his peers in the class, Kevin stopped attending class except on test days. It was the end of the term and the professor was forced to take issue with the poor attendance.

“What grade do you think that you deserve for the term?”

Kevin respectfully subdued his normal arrogant tone in the presence of his master.

“Without question, my attendance has been very poor. I needed this class for my minor in Spanish. However, I have no patience for sitting through a level 300 Spanish class, in which, my classmates can’t conjugate common irregular verbs, much less, hold a simple conversation with, even, improper grammar. I have scored near perfect on all of my tests. I believe that I deserve an A-.”

The professor gave up no reaction to Kevin’s response. He quietly looked into Kevin’s eyes for a moment before speaking.

“Your classmates could have benefited from your presence in class. Don’t you feel that you could have been better team player?”

Unlike the professor, Kevin didn't hesitate when he spoke. For his unsatisfactory attendance, he anticipated a lower grade than his ability warranted. However, given this opportunity to take a stand on his own behalf, he was not timid.

“No, I signed up for varsity. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but those students belong in the Little League, at best. They need a mentor, not a classmate. If they want to play with me then they had better know their way around the game before they get onto the field. These students don’t know a pop fly from a base hit. What’s more, I paid full tuition for a class that I could have tested out of, if given the opportunity.”

Kevin wanted to say more but he had the good judgment to rest. He had thoroughly made his point. Whatever happened, he was confident that the professor was not going to low-ball his grade badly, if at all.

The professor seemed to be holding back a smile.

“You have your A-. However, I missed your energy when you quit attending class. If you sign up for another of my classes then we’ll need to have a discussion before the term starts.”

“Fair enough… and thank you for the opportunity to speak before you set the grade.”

The two shook hands and parted with a mutual and genuine respect for each other. Kevin didn't take another Spanish class at Iowa State. With this class, he had what he needed for his minor in Spanish.


  1. it's hard to believe that someone of his age had the intelligence to handle the situation as he did. he was practical and truthful, and therefore, i believe he got the grade he deserved. good for him!

    1. Not if you think about it, Sue. Actually, he knew that the confrontation was possible because, after all, attendance is a requirement. He knew why he was being called in and had time to think about what he might say.
      In addition, he was more mature than most college students by the fact that he had left college for a couple of years, worked in a factory and then returned. In the life of a twenty-something, 2-3 years in age makes a difference.
      Last, your comments say the rest.
      As always, thanks for the read and comments, Sue.