Wednesday, July 11, 2012


House Bunny is one of the movies that you have to watch several times to fully grasp because it’s so highly nuanced, but the plot basically goes like this: 

Anna Faris’s character, who is a Playboy Bunny, awakes on her 27th birthday to find a note by Hugh Hefner telling her she’s too old and she has to pack up and leave the mansion.  She leaves immediately, and she ends up as house mother of a super nerdy sorority. Hilarity ensues. Then, it turns out Hef didn’t actually kick her out; it was a jealous Playboy Playmate who forged the note. 

So let’s say you’re Ana Faris’s character on the morning of your 27th birthday, but instead of leaving the mansion, you want to convince Hef that even though you’re an over-the-hill 27-year-old you don’t deserve to be kicked out? What steps would you take?

I would make sure my hair was peroxided super blonde, and I would make sure that my head was the only place on my body with hair. I would obviously spray tan. And I would make sure to mention how I hate wearing panties.

My students, on the other hand, would dye their hair gray, let the bikini wax grow out, and talk about physics.

I say that because my students can be so clueless when trying to state their case. 

After I post grades at the end of every quarter, I inevitably receive emails from students asking why they failed my class. And these emails are unfailingly the most grammatically disastrous emails I receive. Here are some examples:

hi jenny i had a few questions about my final grade

how did i end up with my final grade being an F?

I was kinda sad that i got a d, i thought i would get an B- or a C+, anyways im sure i deserved that grade but I thought I would get a good grade on the final so I was wondering if you clarify why.

i am very displeased with failing your class. An I don't agree with your assumption of failure. I would like to review this over in person with you and the director beacuse i don't feel  i should have to repeat the course. Thank you and I look forward to speaking to you.    

This never ceases to amaze me. I’m not particularly subtle about my enthusiasm for proper grammar. They know I am the crazy English teacher who drives a grammarmobile. If you are going to take the time to write one grammatically correct email, wouldn’t it be the one appealing to your English teacher to change your grade?

Can anyone explain this phenomenon?

It’s like telling Hugh Hefner he should reconsider kicking you out of the Playboy Mansion because you plan to put on twenty pounds and get a boob reduction.


Mark said...

At least one of them had apostrophes in "don't." It is rather funny actually to see them trying to appeal to you that they don't fail at grammar while failing so hard at grammar. I wonder if any of them have ever realised this.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Oh, student emails. They can be such a distaster. I always double and triple check my emails to professors, probably to the point of insanity. Polite and professional are important, but then again, so is grammar and spelling. :)

Shannon said...

Everyone knows that gaining twenty pounds and getting a boob reduction is something you do when you get married, not when questioning your English grade.

Too random? Maybe.

carl can said...

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Rebecca said...

No one can be bothered with the shift key anymore. You are asking way too much of your students!

Shelly said...

Oh my goodness. Imagining Hugh Hefner and our beloved grammar in the same thought has caused a huge wrinkle in my mind. I don't know if I'll ever be able to straighten it out.

Dylan Fitzgerald said...

Okay, I'll admit that in casual emails to friends and family, I'm sometimes lax in capitalization, but NEVER in an email to a professor. Have they misplaced their respective "shift" keys? Oy vey.

the late phoenix said...

hello, is anybody out there? Hef is my hero, so why did i get a F? l'et's discuss this in a grammarmobile ride with you, you have to pick me up from the dorm, i have no gas money, only the money Mom gives me for Taco Bell. no more Fs, let's try the A. xoxo

Brent Wescott said...

Just spitballing here, but I think maybe students tend to write certain ways when they're on certain devices. If they are at home on a proper computer, an email might be more formally formed. I get a lot of messages from students who composed the email on their phones, and it's like they're tweeting. Use as few letters as you can, bag the punctuation.

I'm not saying it's right or that it doesn't also drive me crazy, but maybe that explains a little.

Terra Shield said...

We used to leave handwritten notes under the lecturer's door if they weren't in. This was about 10 to 14 years back.

As for your post, I do think that if the students do want their grades reviewed, they should at least try to impress you with proper grammar. You're right. They are pretty clueless :)

Liz said...

"i am very displeased with failing your class. An I don't agree with your assumption of failure."


Jono said...

i just dont understand how u can be so crule to these maroons.

anthony stemke said...

Before I mastered grammar I always typed every word all caps. But that would take one only so far. I finally had to learn exactly why words were capitalized and then life got easier.
Now math, thats a different story. cm

Theresa Milstein said...

How have I missed all of these posts? I've had the wrong priorities this July.

I want to attack those emails with a red correcting pen.

If you have to meet with the director, bring the email for evidence.