TA successfully bluffs way through seminar without doing any of the readings

Illustration by Momo Lin

Proving yet again that just because something’s a “required reading” doesn’t mean you actually have to read it, a teaching assistant in SFU’s English department coasted through last Monday’s 8:30 a.m. seminar to a somewhat satisfying degree.

“It’s really not that hard,” TA Janet Ellis, 28, told The Peak after the harrowing venture took place. “I just listen to what the students are saying and then mash a few of their answers together to make my own response. I can’t believe none of them have noticed yet.”

While Ellis says that she tries to keep up with all of the course materials on her syllabus, she admits to regularly pulling information off of Wikipedia and browsing SparkNotes summaries to help maintain her knowledgeability. Ellis cites her busy work schedule and course load this semester as the main reasons why she’s already behind in most of her classes.

“I’d like to do all of the readings every week but there’s just so much of it,” claims Ellis. “I don’t know how my students expect me to keep up with this substantive workload I’ve assigned.”

Ellis also confessed that she’s been behind in readings since the start of the semester, when she asked students to come on day one having read all of Slaughterhouse-Five, as well as two hefty secondary readings: “I work incredibly hard during the semester so I take it easy over the break. Do my students really think I’m going to spend part of my time off trying to get ahead on readings? Let’s be realistic here.”

In addition to Wikipedia and SparkNotes, other strategies that Ellis swears by include avoiding direct eye contact whenever a student proposes a question to the class and giving answers that are really just cleverly disguised questions.

“I’m sure the students don’t notice how uninformed or evident it is when I haven’t done the readings,” says Ellis.

However, complaints from students of the ENGL 1919 seminar have already reached SFU administration, with claims that Ellis’ shortcomings are becoming more and more obvious.

“It doesn’t really affect me if she does the readings or not,” said Travis Burt, a first-year English major and one of the many who complained about Ellis. “You get out of a course what you put into it, so it’s her loss if she wants to just keep coasting. We’ll see how she does though come instructor evaluation time at the end of semester.”

In response to the recent accusations, Ellis is confident they’re unfounded, claiming the students are “being totally unfair” and are “just out to get” her.