Students are amazing. Teach college for a few years (I suppose the same is true at other ages, but I just don't have any personal experience with them) and you'll hear an amazing litany of excuses, thoughtless answers and ridiculous expectations. A college I taught at a few years ago actually had a case of plagiarism that was ultimately traced back to the student's father. Who had written his kid's paper for him/her. Only he hadn't so much written it as plagiarized it. The student had no idea that his/her father had cheated- but I suppose if you are willing to cheat by having your parent do you work for you, and your parent is willing to help you cheat in this way, it should come as no surprise that your parent might cheat in other ways, too.
After that I thought I'd be pretty hard to shock. But as it turns out I'm always wanting to believe the best of people. Good ol' Sherman Day Thacher. I really do believe in the words of the Banquet Song, and not just for myself: I still somehow believe that everyone values and strives for those things (for you non-Thacherites, the part of the Banquet Song I'm referring to goes, "May honor and kindess and fairness and truth/Be ours till life's struggle is through/May the stamp of the School be the stamp of our lives/Whose honesty carries us on/To do the best work in the world that we can/Till the best we can do is all done"). I think I'm going to keep believing it, too, because dammit, people should! Honesty and kindness and hard work are things the world could use a lot more of.
Today I got an email from a student unhappy with his/her grade in my class. S/he said that s/he knew that s/he hadn't really put much effort into my class, but his/her GPA was too low, and was there anything s/he could do to improve his/her grade?
I almost. fucking. choked. Or cried. Or something. The series of selfish and idiotic expectations here is just dazzling. 1. Why on earth would you think you deserved a higher grade when you admitted up front that you didn't really try? 2. Why on earth would you think that your grade could be changed after the semester was over? And, you know, all work turned in and evaluated? 3. Why on earth would you think that you, and you alone of all your classmates, deserved a chance to do extra credit work? 4. Why, on G-d's green earth, would you think that you deserved anything but what you got when you didn't put much effort in??
Please. Teach your children, your students, your friends, yourself, anyone: Anything worth having is worth working hard for.