Thursday, May 6, 2010

1+1=2 Is Only My Opinion?

One thing that I teach students in remedial English classes is to humble themselves and to strive to improve their writing and reading proficiency no matter how good they believe they are. I cover this because some students believe that they are better writers and readers than they actually are. (This lesson can be found at

Despite emphasizing this lesson of humility and striving to improve, I have one student (let's call her S) in one of my English 91 labs who carries the attitude of “I am smarter than everyone.” That would still be okay if she is putting forth the effort to improve her writing. However, S frequently shows up late and leaves early. As a result, she is missing even the most basic knowledge that almost everyone in class knows, and she doesn’t have much quality work to show.

Yesterday, S really irritated me when I reminded the class that they have to pass the portfolio in order to pass the class. It is a policy of the English Department in this college to require passing the portfolio (and other important components) in order to pass English 91. This is as basic as 1 + 1 = 2 in English 91. However, when I reminded the students of this basic policy, S began arguing with me. "That's your opinion," she responded.

How do you deal with that? It’s like someone telling me that 1+1=2 is my opinion. Maybe she will also argue that the sun does not rise from the east. What’s so frustrating about this is that such a stupid argument is coming out of a know-it-all, who in actuality has a lot to learn and a lot of room for improvement in English.

Here’s the sad thing about this girl. She is actually smarter than half her class. However, her classmates who are not as smart as her are doing better than her, because they are proceeding humbly and working hard to improve their writing and reading proficiencies.

Copyright: © 2010. This document is the sole property of Amadeo Constanzo. You may use this article for free on your web site, blog, or other publication if and only if you include this entire copyright notice including the following links and statement. Other free teachings from Amadeo Constanzo can be found at and

Shu Chan 陳樹中 Terence Chan LIU

Terence Chan LIU Long Island University

No comments: