Personal Failure, Part II

(Click the picture below to read the first part. It’s not a requirement. You are free to make your own choices.)


Now that everyone has completed the first part of my tragedy, I feel confident in giving you the conclusion. Here it goes:

I took financial mathematics because I needed a math credit and I thought the practical application of finances would lend to a practical learning environment.

I was incorrect.

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I turned in assignment after assignment with answers correct down to the decimal point, but would constantly receive zeroes on assignments for doing it the incorrect way (the way the book does it). Eight out of ten answers on the first test were correct. By my math this is an 80 percent. By his math it was a 10 percent.

After the first test was graded, about half the students dropped the class. This moment would have been perfect for me to leave this professor and his ego in the math department where it belonged. No one would blame me if I left.

Instead I took it as a challenge.


Academia had usually provided little challenge for me, and in the rare instances where I was challenged, a few dedicated study sessions pulled me out of even the most dire of situations. Hell, senior year of high school I had less than half attendance and still managed to pass all my classes. I think technically I shouldn’t have been allowed to receive credit due to my absences, but they let it slide on account of my consistently high grades (and I think it would have required paperwork they didn’t want to do.) I would have even received honors if I attended the mandatory meetings (I didn’t, and they kicked me out.) Before I took financial mathematics, I had never failed a test.

Now I’ve failed four.

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By last month, I was mathematically failing this class. By this I mean that even if I were to magically receive perfect scores on every subsequent assignment and test, I would still not have enough points to pass the class. The amount of people attending the class on any given day had dropped from the initial fifty or so to about eight.


So why did I continue to stick around even when, mathematically, I had no way of succeeding?

I’ll tell you:

It’s called a grading curve.


Yes, in order not to feel like terrible teachers, sometimes educators will employ this magical device to curve the grades. F’s become C’s, B’s become A’s, and A’s stay the same because fuck you if you’re getting an A when everyone else is failing.

You see kids, if everyone is failing, than failing is the average, and an average is a C, not an F, you silly, silly children.


I chatted up the few remaining students, and most of them seemed to be failing or at least close to failing. A beautiful grading curve was inevitable.


Now, I’d like to tell you that even though I wasn’t the strongest or smartest, even though all the odds were stacked against me, I stuck it out. And because I stuck it out, working hard, studying into the wee hours of the night, turning in failed assignment after failed assignment, my god-damned determination paid off in the end.

I’d like to tell you that.

But I can’t.

Because it didn’t.

I fucking failed and I just have to live with that.

And so do you.



28 thoughts on “Personal Failure, Part II

  1. I taught in college and the profs are graded on failure. If they fail to many it is a show of their lack of teaching skills and therefore they can be terminated. Unfortunately that is true of all teachers except those who are absolutely needed like Math teachers. They ae in a different category and therefore can act independently and be the curse to many a student. What are they accomplishing except being a rude nasty example of a teacher, pretty much zero. But zero is a placement in math and that is really all they are, placements which have no value at all.

    • That’s awesome, dude. I always draw a silly pictures on my teacher evaluations. Something just provocative enough for them to think it means something, but absurd enough so the meaning they decipher will never be coherent.

      (By the way, I hope you keep blogging even though the class is over. I really like your articles.)

  2. Personally, I don’t like curves. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I never benefit from it, while my compatriots do. That’s not how the real world works.

    If anything, your professor gave you a practical lesson, as opposed to using a curve… so in a sense, it was a class that provided a “real world application,” like your under-performing mate in part 1 was boasting about. 🙂

  3. LOL @ the grading curve…. just pictured that one class I had where we were all whining (and may I remind you it was graduate school) and as soon the professor said, “I will grade this exam on a curve”… people were dancing to disco lights… no idea where the disco lights came from…. grading curve only works if you don’t have the high achiever… because if there is… totally screwed! There’s always one of those in every class. Grading curve = you all failed equally, way to go!

  4. I have been a teacher for thirty-one years. I never read about teachers being ridiculed and called out as unfair… and laughed so hard. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I know math teachers who are exactly like that. And they get higher bonuses than I do. Thank you for making an old gray English teacher laugh a little bit.

  5. I was tempted to conclude that you are shooting rainbow-hued falsehoods out of your unicorn’s butt, because no prof could be such a jerk. But alas, I believe you. It reminds me of a prof I had who marked down my paper with a comment like, “This is not true. I lived in Singapore for 8 years and Singaporeans don’t see the world this way.” I should have apologized for not realising her course had a pre-requisite of living in Singapore for 8 years.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog. Pleasure to have you aboard.

  6. This teacher sounds like an absolute dick! I reckon if you go to a higher up and explain that you did everything by the book AND got the answers right, you’d get a re-mark. Because this guy sounds like he wanted to be a supervillain, failed the course to get into Evil University, and is now taking it out on everyone else.
    That can’t be allowed to happen, right?

  7. You are hopelessly hilarious. And I love it!

    I had this exact same experience in grade 12 math which prevented me from graduating with the rest of my class. When I repeated the course the following year (without attending even once) I got a 94%, so keep your head up. Us needlessly intelligent students just piss off sub-par teachers. It’s inevitable. The great teachers however… The teachers who love to see students delve into their chosen subjects, well they love us!

    • Thank you for confirming what I always suspected – I’m great and any evidence to the contrary is due to poor perception of others.

      Also, congratulations on marrying a hoarder. I can only imagine the reality television opportunities you have at your disposal.

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