My sincere apologies to any- and every-one who has asked me a direct question that I have said I would devote a post or more to. The list of questions that I need to address is as long as my arm, and in many cases I suppose people forgot that they even asked! But if you asked and are waiting – apologies. I still have the questions and I will get to them, slowly. But I find that once I start answering a question, to cover the issues thoroughly ends up taking several posts and I get sent down some byways. But that’s OK, in my opinion; I tend to think that makes the blog a bit more interesting.
Moreover, I constantly have things I want to talk about – for example, things I’ve been doing in my courses, such as the thread on the Gospel of the Ebionites this past week: I didn’t even *get* to the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazareans, or the Gospel of the Egyptians; and not tomorrow my seminar is off to discuss yet *other* non-canonical texts, many of them also very interesting and worth series of posts.
I take this also to be for the good, since I sometimes I wonder how long I can sustain a blog at a rate of 5-6 posts a week, without running out of things to say. A year and a half into it, so far so good.
Anyway, below is a question (out of order in which I received it, I’ll admit) that I thought was pretty good. It is about my syllabus for my course, where I indicate that my deadlines for assignments are set in stone and late papers will be penalized. Here’s the question:
“Both deadlines are firm.” Any chance you will do a post on some of the better excuses you’ve got for overdue assignments over the years?!
Ah great question! In fact, I almost never get any good or memorable excuses for late papers. But I’ve gotten some *amazing* responses in the past to explain why a student did not turn up for the midterm or final exam. You’d be amazed how many sick and dying grandmothers a single student could have!
My all-time favorite excuse came from a student of mine, back in the mid 80s, when I was teaching at Rutgers. This student had some bizarre things happen to him. One time he missed class (he later claimed) because that morning he had gone into his (shared) bathroom to wash up, and used a wet hand towel there to wipe his face – but it was wet with lighter fluid (from a thoughtless roommate). He ended up in an ambulance. I didn’t know if I believed him, but it was a clever claim, even if not true. Later in that semester, this same student fainted – literally fainted – during one of my lectures. Taken out in an ambulance. He claimed, with a straightface, to be on a first name basis with the ambulance crew.
But his best excuse was at the end of the semester. Didn’t show up for his final exam. I gave him an F. And then he came in to tell me why he had missed. He lived across the street from a chemist, who decided to commit suicide. The chemist mixed up some wild concoction, and blew up his house. The water heater from the house flew across the street and came in through the front window of the student’s house. It caused the ceiling to collapse. And the ceiling landed on my student. Back to the ambulance.
He claimed he could show me newspaper articles to prove it.
I thought this was absolutely fantastic. I was tempted on the spot just to give the student an A and to have done with it. Any excuse *that* spectacular shows creativity intelligence, and if nothing else, our universities should be training students to be creative and intelligent…..
But in the end, I let him make up the final. He aced it.