Sometimes, all it takes is to admit your mistake

I had an unpleasant experience in NUS today. I went to collect my log book in the lab, and I saw that my Lab Assistant wrote something in it, asking where my calculations was. At first I thought it was a part that I didn’t do, so I just kept it and went for my lunch.

On my way back from lunch, I looked at my lab report and discovered that I had actually done that part, and it’s on the next page, which was unmarked. Isn’t this a mistake of the Lab Assistant? Surely that page should have been marked.

Hence I posted a question on the forum, asking what should be done. The lecturer promptly replied, telling me to approach the lab officer, which I did. The lab officer told me to approach the Lab Assistant. I took down her name and went back to my laptop and gave her an email asking, “What should I do?”.

She gave me a reply an hour later, saying, it’s too late to find her to correct the mistake now, and that anyway even if there is an increase in marks, it’ll only contribute very little to the final grade.

What the hell was that supposed to mean? I only collected my lab report today because it is the first working day that I can collect it after receiving the email from the lab! Why is it too late and why is it that she can say “they may have collated the marks”, when she didn’t even check? And neither was she sorry that she did not mark my lab report properly.

My friends urged me to approach the professor, but I decided to give her a 2nd chance. I asked if anything could be done, and hinted that I shouldn’t be punished for something that is her fault. Furthermore, no matter what, nobody wished to have their lab report unfairly marked isn’t it?

It was after this mail that she actually acknowledged that I can come down by 11am tomorrow (she’ll be on leave from Wednesday till end december) to get it remarked and reassessed. That is fine by me, but since I was in school, I asked if I could see her now. And I could, and I did.

The first thing she did when she took my lab report was to dissect the mistakes I made. Hello? The point of all this is not to tell me I have mistakes. It’s to mark the page that was unmarked. I don’t see how having a wrong at the beginning would justify not marking that page when it is the crux of the entire lab! She then said “I don’t see your blablabla”, but seriously, that’s not why I’m here for. Next she went on to the unmarked page, and started pointing at my answers and saying, “What is this?” “Where are the units?”. Granted, that is honestly, an error on my own, but I’m not forcing her to award marks for that, am I?

Next she asked me to explain the theory I learnt in school. Then she said, what’s the point of giving me this answer? I was super pissed off. I wrote that formula and answer down because the lab manual required me to do so. She then asked, “There is no point in giving me only this answer, because there is no analysis you can do in this form”. Of which, I pointed to the next part, where I had used the answer derived in a previous section, changed it into the correct form, and then used it in an analysis. That shut her up because in the end, I still did what I had to.

She then looked at the marks she gave me. She said “8/10? I thought I gave you very low marks, that is why you’re particular about this.” In fact, it is not very high, and I told her actually plenty of my friends get 10. She then said, “You have a wrong in front, so there is no way you can get 10, and even if you do, the increase is only a small percentage of the final grade”.

To hell with the percentage. To me, I just want to get my lab report fairly graded. It’s not about whether I can get full marks, or whether I can get another mark. Even if I did not get any additional marks, it’ll be fine because at least I went to get my lab report fairly graded. Seriously, this whole problem is because she didn’t fulfill her responsibilities properly. Why should I be penalized for her mistake? That is totally stupid, and not once did she seem apologetic that I had to run here and there for her mistake, when she could have been diligent. I even had to thank her for that extra 1 mark she owed me.

Seriously, sometimes, all it takes is to admit your mistake. Even if you’re not in the service sector, you have to have interpersonal relationships. You have to maintain a harmonious relationship with everyone. In fact, I don’t see why she has to push her responsibility away, hoping that I will back off with her first reply. Is she afraid that this matter will go to the professors? In fact, if she did not accede to my request of having it fairly graded, I would have gone to the professors. This whole matter could have been satisfactory resolved if she had just said, “I am sorry that I have left a page ungraded. Could you come over so I’ll give it a fair assessment? However I am not too sure if they have collated the marks, so you may not be able to get your marks reflected.”

If she had said all that, I would have happily gone to her and have a nice conversation, got my lab report marked, and everyone would be happy. But she didn’t.

So, if you have a mistake somewhere in your life, be brave to stand up and admit your mistake. Sometimes, by admitting your mistake, you’ll gain the person’s respect. By pushing your responsibility, it actually increases the risk of your boss learning about your minor mistake, and subsequent irresponsibility.

But I guess, that is an ideal situation for an ideal world, and it doesn’t exist even in a world class university. Yes, that is the difference between them N’US.

Don’t be mistaken. I love my school, just not the people who’re spoiling it’s reputation.

2 thoughts on “Sometimes, all it takes is to admit your mistake

  1. Oh my goodness. You mean this kind of lab assistant still exist in universities? So much for being a lab assistant!

    If I were you, I would have gone into full confrontational mode to argue with her that it’s her fault that she did not mark it well and correct and should stop criticizing me.

    But then again, you;’re not me. Haha!

    Cheer up bro! 🙂

  2. Yes, I am shocked that we have people who want to cover their asses so much even though it’s really just a minor mistake and no one is going to fry her backside over her carelessness. I don’t see why she should be so defensive and not want to help me. After all, I’m a student and I just want to be done with my work.

    But I guess I’m still trying to be nice. I just cannot bring myself to correct her in that manner. But I could sense I was reaching my limit yesterday. Had she just pushed me a little further, I would have burst out.

    Thanks though! Haha I feel much better already.

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