In which I plot revenge against slackers.

Okay, so this semester I am teaching Children’s Literature, a class for which the reading is, to put it extremely mildly, “light”. FFS, one of the goddam books on the motherfucking reading list is Flotsam, which doesn’t even have any words.

Naturally, this poses some challenge to slackers because the reading can actually often be done in the 10 minutes per week they appear to allocate for it. This week, however, we were doing the kickass awesome novel by Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which, if you have a child and have not read it, you must immediately go and get, and even if you don’t have a kid, you should still read it. I wasn’t sure about this book, but my spawn and her teacher raved about it, so I read it, and they were not wrong.

(Slight aside here to say that I have childhood trauma from the Velveteen Rabbit, and so any book that has even a teeny tiny Velveteen Rabbit vibe is a book I will not normally go near for any money, and the words “toy rabbit gets lost” really did make me hugely hesitant. However, this book is the book the Velveteen Rabbit should have been, so much so, that it may have eased my pain.)

Anyway, to return to my despicable slackers, none of these assholes had bothered to read the book, like even cracked it open, even though it would have taken the slowest of them no more than 3-4 hours to read. “Fine,” I said. “We were going to discuss it today, but I shall just make it the topic of the essay portion of the exam.” Take that, slack-jawed yokels.

I am not going to give them easy questions, either. The questions will contain words of many syllables, require examples from the text, or may simply be cryptic. For one of them, I am thinking of going with “Why a warthog?” Feel free to add suggestions of utter meanness in the comments.

So, that half of the class was a wash. The other thing I had planned was a peer review of their drafts of their final projects – which was writing a children’s story. I had said, several times, that they needed a draft of their words, so we could talk about age-appropriate vocab and similar. “Don’t worry about pictures, but you must have your text”. Yes, yes.

So how many of them had a draft? Oh, you know, half a dozen. The rest of them were desperately scribbling any old bullshit while I looked at the drafts by the people who had thrown 15 minutes at the task. But hey, guess what? It was worth actual MARKS. Quite aside from the fact that getting help with the draft might help with the finished product … OMG who am I kidding?

I gave a bunch of them zero, which felt quite awesome.

7 thoughts on “In which I plot revenge against slackers.

  1. fillyjonk

    Seriously? It’s too much work for them to read a book aimed at kids?

    What are they majoring in? What do they expect to do for a living? If you’re going to be gainfully employed, it does NOT get easier after college.

  2. Mary Churchill

    It’s tough when you teach a class on a “fun” (read easy) topic. I teach on popular culture and I once taught a class on social movements. It didn’t help that the social movements class was given the title “the 60s” (!!). I started that class with a serious lecture on how the class would be fun but it would also be serious – that the class was not going to be all Beatles, Woodstock, and hippie love. I definitely didn’t make friends that first day. Some students dropped but many actually rose to the occasion and did a fantastic job – and had fun. I take reading class materials very seriously and have even required weekly or twice-weekly short writing assignments to keep them on track and I’m a ball-buster about the assignments – nothing late and absolutely no make-ups – they can miss three and they can choose which ones they miss.

    I have a five-year old son and I’m definitely checking out the DiCamillo book – thanks for the rec. (we have read the first four Harry Potters to him and he loved them)

    Can I get a copy of your syllabus? 🙂


    1. whatladder Post author

      Reading list for this semester:

      Flotsam by David Weisner
      The Water Hole by Graeme Base
      Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
      The Terrible Underpants by Kaz Cooke
      Bone by Jeff Smith
      Coraline by Neil Gaiman
      Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
      Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late by Mo Willems
      Rapunzel by Paul Zelinsky
      Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Suess
      The PaperBag Princess by Robert Munsch.

  3. Amythist Skye

    I can’t believe the level of slackery folks get up to these days! Writing the childrens book was probably the most fun project in my entire college career! I even had crappy illustrations made using the Storybook Weaver MECC program and it’s limited graphic capabilities.

    As for the readings, most of them are so short that “not having enough time” is not a viable excuse. Maybe I’m just a nerd who loves reading kid books, but I never came to THIS class unprepared!

    Awesome reading list. *heads to paperback swap to check out the few titles she hasn’t read*

  4. paperkingdoms

    OK, I just finished reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and it was fabulous and your students are wankers. There are dogs and warthogs and storytellers and scarecrows/crucifixes and multiple names and and and. “Why a warthog?” is an excellent essay question.

  5. Zoe

    After reading this post I immediately went and got Edward Tulane for my 7 year old son.

    We loved it, and thank you.


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