Responding to an FSM Doodle

One of the difficult things about being a teacher is that most students never get to see the “real” you — they only get a classroom version of you. Better teachers can find a way to blend those worlds.

Reader Allison found out her teacher has a good sense of humor, though :)

She doodled a picture of the Flying Spaghetti Monster on a recent English essay.

Her teacher responded:

Allison writes:

This was the day I realized my teacher is a real person.

I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I love when my students leave little jokes or doodles in the margins of their math exams. I get to know them a little better that way (and vice-versa if I respond).

  • Kimpatsu

    I used to doodle in the margins until a biology teacher wrote “Why do you draw these puerile doodles?”
    Guess you’re a little more enlightened.

  • vivian

    I loved all of my teachers, because they trusted us students and let their colors show. Thank you to all teachers who make a difference!

    I especially love that this student can express herself.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    I have very mixed views about doodles. On the one hand they can be amusing. However, it seems that most of the time they are added by the students who aren’t doing particularly well. This is especially true when the doodles are on exams. Just a few days ago I was grading the exams for the calc class I’m TAing and one of the students had answers that took up only a single page of the blue book and had on the next two pages two very detailed sketches, one of me and one of the professor. That would be a lot more amusing if the student weren’t in danger of failing the class.

  • BlueEeyore

    Some of my students occasionally write sarcastic remarks or make jokes about questions on tests and assignments. I usually love them and the comments often show how my students are creative or think outside of the box. One of my students this year started writing weird comments just to test if I was actually reading, so now I always comment on his remarks. It’s been an entertaining, silent exchange between us.

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    I bet my teachers hated me. I corrected their spelling and grammar. Still do. Thankfully law exams are anonymous!

  • http://sesoron.blogspot.com/ Sesoron

    Funny, usually when my students doodle or write anything on the tests I give them it’s because they’re desperately ignorant of the material. So no, the Latin word for “duck” is not “anas, anafizzlewizzlehomeslice”. Even if it rather did make me, as it were, lol.

  • dartigen

    I often write in the margins of pre-printed tests – I correct numbers, grammar, spelling etc. In Maths I sometimes draw diagrams in the margins for worded questions, because there’s usually not enough space in the answers section. Occasionally, with English or Modern History tests, I’ll use the margin to make comments about the questions, or explain something I’ve said.

    In Theology class, I have successfully developed a new programming language, written out a PHP reference for myself, calculated the amount of fuel needed to drive to Melbourne and back, and I was halfway through a practice sentence in D’ni when the term finished.
    No, I don’t intend to pass Theology. It’s my unofficial free period.

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    Unfortunately, doodles on exams are almost always an indicator of failure. If they have time to draw amusing little pictures, they are more likely to have given up than to have finished early.

  • Canadiannalberta

    Wow. When we did that in Grade five, our teachers told us to be more professional and if you did it you got detention.

    Another reason why Alberta sucks.

  • http://www.twitter.com/j_spencer Jeff

    I had the same experience as Kimpatsu in 5th grade. In fact, it may have been almost word-for-word. It wasn’t just doodles, either, but full-fledged comic strips. So I stopped. Who knows, she may have stopped the next Charles Schulz. (just kidding. I have no real artistic talent.)

    I was also a cocky smartass in high school algebra. It was always my best subject, so I’d ace the test and then doodle in the space for the extra credit problem. He dropped the lowest grade, and I think mine was like a 96, so on the last regular exam, I just drew crap in the answer spaces (things like a square root symbol with a random doodle of a cow or something inside) and then did the (more difficult) 2 extra credit problems perfectly. My teacher (who was a really cool guy, which is why I knew I could get away with it in the first place) threatened me with not dropping the grade because I’d intentionally failed. He gave me a -5%.

  • aerie

    This teacher most likely agrees w/ the others about doodling on exams or tests.

    But it seems to me, she was giving a nod to a like-minded thinker, familiar to only the two of them. A sweet gesture of understanding & connection.

    Small efforts of human kindness can be very meaningful.

    I find it touching.

  • JJR

    I used to make my students prepare written essays/reports, in longhand and would not accept typed copy (since they would all too often cut & paste and do a half-assed job of paraphrasing their source material, etc). They resented it, but I told them I want to know what *you* think, not what someone else thinks/says. Their essay quality improved and became more genuine as they found their own voice, and I even loved the essays that turned a critical eye towards me. At least it showed they were thinking, and as long as they were respectful I would let them be as critical as they wanted. Making them write stuff out by hand was the only way I could ensure that they themselves had written something and not their parents, or that they had only slapped together something from a mish-mash online.

  • Shatterface

    I was pretty poor at geography so I just answered one question with ‘Here be Dragons’. I didn’t pass.

  • xavier

    Um, well, I hate to pee on the parade of all the oversimplifying doodle-demonizers on here, but the fact is that I, long ago, was a straight-A student with a penchant for drawing/doodling constantly. Every test I turned in was encrusted, so to speak, all over the margins with detailed doodling, sometimes fairly abstract and sometimes, depending on my mood, funny or morose. Usually it was because I finished answering the questions before everyone else, was subsequently bored with nothing left to do, and didn’t want to be That Kid who always jumps up and hands in his completed test before everyone. While some teachers appreciated the drawings and others really didn’t, the grade would inevitably be an A.

    So this crap about doodlers necessarily being low achievers is just that: crap. Perhaps that may apply to some of them, but not all — so teachers would be wise not to label their students negatively based on a simple overabundance of creativity.

    By the way, I have 2 degrees and am a successful Creative Director with an equally successful second career as a fine artist that will soon be my sole support as I retire from the rat race of my more high-paced first career.

  • http://www.google.co.uk Derrida

    In maths we had a contract with the teacher that we could doodle in the margins if we got full marks in the test, otherwise we’d get detention. I’m pretty sure marks went up after that.

  • http://irenedelse.wordpress.com Irene

    Wow. I can’t say if I’m envious of these students or not. The school I was at had a zero tolerance approach to doodles: you did it, you got points off, period. Even if your answer was perfect otherwise. I learned *very* quickly not to have a sense of humor on my exam papers. (Some teachers were pretty relaxed with jokes as long as we didn’t interrupt the lesson or deface books, or if we seemed less than 100% concentrated during exams.)

  • JSug

    I’ve never been much of a doodler. But when I was in school, I always made an effort to work some form of humor into my papers and other assignments, so long as there was latitude to do so. Essays are a great outlet. Also, as a computer science major, you might be surprised how much humor can be inserted into the code for a complex algorithm. Some teachers/professors appreciated it more than others. You can usually tell which ones have a decent sense of humor.


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