I thought this too important to relegate to the comments. I apologize for the length, which cannot be helped.
To repeat that site’s boast: “This calculator was designed to help college students decide if skipping class is a smart move. Answer these questions and your decision will be made based on a surefire mathematical formula.” I said that any student tempted to engage this calculator should not only skip class, but should drop out of college immediately.
Part of the promotional materials for the Skip Class Calculator includes a Facebook page on which people sing the praises of the Calculator. One contributer is Joshua Peacock, who said, “â€¦no longer will we have to stress out debating whether to skip class, because this simple to use tool will do all the thinking for you.”
I thought it possible that Peacock was not a real person. The site’s owner, Jim Filbert, emailed me to stress that Peacock is certainly real and is, as I jokingly suggested, a fine young man. Here is Filbert’s email:
Re: Back To School Electronically
From: Jim Filbert <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Mr. Briggs,
This is a response to your recently published post at http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=2793 titled “Back To School Electronically,” on August 20, 2010.
My name is Jim Filbert. I am the creator of the Skip Class Calculator website in which you mentioned in your blog post. First off I would like to thank you for your mention of the website in your blog. All publicity (either positive or negative) helps drive traffic. Even though your comments of the website were not the most flattering, I skill thank you for the mention regardless.
The main reason I am contacting you is because I would like to discuss the comments made in your blog about Josh Peacock. Before I state my opinion regarding your comments I would first like to let you know that I fully support your right under the the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to address your opinions on any thing you would like. You have this right as much as I do and I respect it fully.
However, I must say that the comments you made regarding Josh were a bit unfair. I have been a close friend of Josh for many years and know him very well. Josh is a person who took his undergraduate studies very seriously. He finished school with a near 4.0 and a degree in Health Care Administration. He also was a prominent member of the Army ROTC program. He is now a commissioned lieutenant in the United States Army and is pursuing an MBA at Cleveland State (as you know).
The comment made about the website by Josh was more of a joke than anything. It was more of a publicity act to help draw attention to my website. It certainly did not reflect his behavior or his true feelings regarding his undergraduate coursework. I know for an absolute fact that Josh did very little skipping of his courses. I understand that the comment Josh made was posted on the internet and as such is public domain to be used by anyone as they see fit.
I do not expect this of you but I would like to have it on record. I ask that you please either remove or alter the comments you made regarding Josh Peacock. Your bog post is a tarnish to his reputation and I would find it unfair that an innocent person be ridiculed because a joke was taken out of context. If anyone should be ridiculed in your blog post it should me as the creator of the website. (If you would like to replace the comments made about Josh with comments made about me – I would be more than happy to provide you with any sort of information or quote you would need). Josh is a very close friend of mine and I would not want to see him humiliated unfairly.
Again, I do not expect this of you and I fully respect the fact that you have every right to comment as you wish.
If you have any questions or comments please contact me.
Thank you for your time,
Jim, I beg Lt. Peacock’s pardon and apologize to him for intimating his ephemeral nature. I did notice his military affiliation, but I chose not to mention it to save the Army any embarrassment. I could not understand how an officer of the United States Military could openly encourage people to shirk their duties, even jokingly. Therefore, I surmised that Lt. Peacock was fictional because no real officer would ever talk this way.
Understand: I say this not as Professor Briggs, but as Staff Sergeant Briggs, a title I held when I served my country for six years. I fear for the men who eventually must serve under Lt. Peacock’s command, and am appalled that an officer could publicly be so cavalier about his and others’ responsibilities.
You claim Peacock’s comments were a joke, a “publicity act”, that he skipped very few classes, and that his public words were not his “true feelings.” His quip was not very funny, it was poor marketing, he should have skipped no classes, and he’d best learn how to tell the truth. There are qualities all officers must possess; among them maturity, diligence, discretion, and honesty: all which, evidently, are lacking in Lt. Peacock. They may eventually come to him; I pray that they do.
To Lt. Peacock, I say We are at war, sir. You are not an ordinary student, but an officer. The standards you must uphold are higher and infinitely more consequential. It is time to grow up.
Now, Jim, as Professor Briggs, I can tell you that your claim that the Skip Class Calculator is based on a “surefire mathematical formula” is gibberish of the rankest order. I prove it thusly.
I am, as a professor, a “hard ass.” I expect that students enrolling in my courses do so because they wish to gain knowledge, not mere information. They are there to learn, not memorize. They show up because they want to understand, not because they need to fulfill a requirement or need a grade.
Thus, the best time to skip my class is never. I checked your calculator to see if this is what it would recommend. If it’s formula were as “surefire” as you claim, it should verify my requirements. However, it did not. For various combinations of entries, it suggested that it was OK to skip. Therefore, your advertising claims are either misleading or entirely false.
My original conclusion was correct: anybody earnestly using your Calculator should not only skip, but should drop out of school altogether. These people are probably only after a “degree” anyway, an item which can be purchased in various places. This maneuver would save them the tedium of sitting in class, relieve them of the necessity of thinking, and lessen the burdens of the professors forced to endure their (occasional) presence.
I cannot say I wish your site the best, Jim. I hope it fails, and, while doing so, that it causes you to lose money. It would be a good lesson for you. If you choose to attend to it.