Archive for September 1st, 2015

The lone pilgrim

I don’t think I have ever directly refused to write a recommendation for a student.  Now, though, I have been asked for one by a student whom I don’t think I can recommend.  I’ve written for some very weak students and been able to squeeze out some appreciation for their hard work or the courage it took to speak up in class once in a while or their growth from point a to point b, even if that wasn’t a very great distance.  But about this student I have nothing to say.  He did most of the work and turned most of it in on time, although I had to chase him down for some of it.  Much of the time it was just the minimum necessary to fulfill the assignment’s requirements.  He rarely (maybe never) contributed to discussion unless I explicitly invited his comment, and tended to demur when I did, or give terse, unhelpful responses.  He almost never responded to another student’s idea.  At the same time, he was weirdly arrogant about his writing and his ideas, and would argue with me about my comments on his drafts.

Why is he even asking me? I always treated him kindly, but I was also clear with him about what he needed to do to improve as a writer, and he didn’t do it, and he didn’t take my class particularly seriously.

He was kind of sneaky about the ask, too, emailing me as though he had already asked, instead of hearing me tell another student to bring the appropriate form (“You told us we needed to bring X form; can I bring it tomorrow?”).

I don’t think he would be asking me if he thought he had a better choice, so I’m guessing that he doesn’t have one.  Which is sad.