Another April Fools’ Day Prank


I have learned over the years that college students, for the most part, rarely suspect that their teacher would try and pull an April Fool’s Day prank; after all, we are professionals 🙂

That leaves college students vulnerable to someone like me who ranks April Fool’s Day as one of his favorite days of the year.

And this year was no exception. While not as elaborate as prior pranks, I think this year’s prank still brought that sense of “You got me”, followed by a grin. At least that’s what I hope happened.

Here is the email I sent out to my students this morning:

Good morning,

As I have discussed in class, I have a certain grading philosophy that I developed several years ago that I believe has suited my students and myself quite well.

Unfortunately, someone in administration has discovered my grading philosophy and determined that it was inappropriate. As a result, I have been “ordered” to switch to a very rigid grading system, which I have outlined below. While I do not agree with this determination, and I am protesting it, it is too late for any such protest to impact this semester.

I apologize that this has happened, and please know that it has not changed my beliefs about how students should be evaluated.

Here is the revised grading system. which closely mirrors Jack Welch’s approach to employee evaluation at General Electric. One thing you will notice is that I am not permitted to give any  “plus” or “minus” grades.

A: only 10% of the class may receive an A (for our class that means no more than 3 students)
B: only 20% of the class may receive a B (for our class that means no more than 6 students)
C: only 40% of the class may receive a C (for our class that means no more than 12 students)
D: only 20% of the class may receive an D (for our class that means no more than 6 students)
F: at least 10% of the class must receive an F (for our class that means at least 3 students)

I feel particularly bad for students at the top and bottom ends of the spectrum. There will likely be several students with final averages in the mid to upper 90s who will only receive a B, or possibly even a C. At the same time, there may be some students with final averages in the 70s, and perhaps even the 80s, who may receive a D, or possibly even an F grade for the semester.

I apologize that this has taken place. Apparently the administration is able to watch our recorded class videos, and came across my discussion of grades. 

If you would like to read the details, including the fairly scathing letter I received from the administration, here is the link:


Prof. Borden

The only concern I have with such pranks is that a student may not click on the link, and then such an email could create some stress for the student. However, today I sent the email before I met with my classes, and so I was able to ask them if they received my email and if they had any questions. If the students were in class, that would have alleviated any concerns; if they weren’t in class, well…

My wife, a nursery school teacher, also enjoys playing pranks on her students. Last year she emptied their lunch boxes and put in plastic food and random things like rolls of tape, rubber snakes and paint brushes. She then brought cups of water with holes poked above the water line out to the playground and asked if anyone wanted to drink a toast to April Fools Day. Watching everyone spill water on themselves is pretty funny to a bunch of four-year old kids (and 57-year old “adults”!). The four-year olds are quick to pick up on the gags, and spend the rest of the day telling my wife that there was a spider on her head. And when she says the rest of the day, she means the rest of the day…

Anyway, it’s nice to have a day devoted to not taking things so seriously. I always look forward to it, and am always curious what Google is going to do. If you haven’t seen today’s Google gag, here is the link.

I hope you had a fun April Fool’s Day; if you pulled a prank, were the victim of a prank, or have heard about great pranks, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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