“Last week, when I returned the latest batch of assignments in a short story class, the inevitable happened. A student approached me and asked, “Can I do extra credit?”
This request flummoxes me more than it should. It’s not that uncommon these days, and on the surface it sounds reasonable. Given the confines of the course, why not push the boundaries and go deeper or broader? Do something extra special!
Of course, that’s almost never the underlying impulse, as any educator knows. As we discussed extra credit—which is to say, as I tried to explain why that wasn’t an option in this class—the true motive emerged: I’m not happy with my grade, and this will improve it.”