Smarter Than You

blog post
Many don’t share a drummer with the rest of us.
My first year of teaching electronics at the high school level wasn’t a first encounter with students at the very high end of the bell curve (“Skifoot and She”, Dec. 9 and 12). However, remembering this event reminds me that Young Sheldon Cooper and Beverly Goldberg type characters existed in real life before the TV shows.

Gene Euis (obviously a fake name) entered the classroom at the back edge of the audible indicator to be in class. I had previously explained my rule was be seated by the end of the bell unless having had to walk from the stadium where spring and fall PE classes were often held.

The freshman gave me a look and said something like, “Technically, sir, being in the room not only implies present, but means present in the context of attendance. Even had I still been in the doorway, I could argue that I would still be able to acknowledge my presence for role call. I’ll give you that if the door were open, I’d be physically tardy, but still able to respond.”

I was taken back, but he was technically correct. I wasn’t in the mood for banter in front of the rest of the class and disregarded their quite snickers saying only, “take your seat.”
There were only 17 students in the beginning electronics class and lab stations were designed for only two students. I devised a method of rotating a different single student to work by him or herself on labs. Gene Euis seldom completed a lab when alone and I observed that neither were many labs completed when he was partnered. His scores on tests and quizzes, however, were usually near or at 100%.

Gene Euis earned a C+ for the quarter. I met his him and his outraged mother in the vice principal’s office before school the day after report cards went home. She wanted his grade changed declaring that her son had never been given less than an A in any subject.

I don’t know how comfortable the VP was with the rest of the conversation, but he was mostly silent. I was armed with my grade book and the printed class criteria. I showed her the zeros and explained that lab scores were 50% of the grade. Her counter was, “he’s smarter than you and most teachers and his IQ test proves it. Test scores should be the only counters.”

I explained that in many vocational classes lab work counts for even more. I asked if she’d read the class criteria to which she said, “No.” I told her the students were given the one-page document to read and take home on the first day of class.

A formal petition was filed and my having the pre-set criteria was sufficient to keep his grade as given.

As a senior, Gen Euis took my vocational applied physics class to augment his college prep physics so he could experience considerably more lab work.