Monthly Archives: September 2013

POP QUIZ!

Okay, so imagine, dear Reader, you are a student. Or, if that’s too much of a stretch, you can, like, imagine you are a normal human being in a parallel situation that involves going to somewhere new.

It’s the beginning of semester. You are new at this institution, and quite probably new to university. You’ve missed the first day of class, because, like, it was on a Thursday before a long weekend, and, like, you really thought it would be a better use of your time to stay a bit longer on vacation in Costa Rica than come back for the first day of class at your new institution where you are taking classes that you need to get into the program of your dreams, which has something to do, no doubt, with interior design, or maybe ferret dentistry, or psychology. Either way.

So, okay, SECOND day of class, but you are totes prepared. You have looked up your schedule and the room number for the class. So you go to the building the class is in, and you go to your classroom. Now, this is supposed to be an English class. That’s what you signed up for. Because, like, that’s the one you totally need to get a C in, according to the lady in the advisings office. So, English class it is. You head into the room.

But wait! This isn’t an English class! It’s a class that’s already going and the teacher at the front of the room is fully teaching Accounting. In your classroom where your class is supposed to be! No way, dude!

So, obvs, you LEAVE. But what’s your next step? DO YOU:

A) Check your schedule and look carefully at the clock, and the room number and maybe even the name of the building just in case, and I know this seems totes unlikely, but it might just have been that you accidentally went to the wrong room, or (okay, this is, like WEIRD, but) the right room at the wrong time?

B) Assume that the English Professor and the Accounting, or maybe it was a Tax class? Professor are conspiring to change rooms or something, because they seem really shifty. Everyone in those classes is fully in on the conspiracy, too. Go to the registrar’s office and lodge a formal complaint that the professor for your class is not in the advertised room at the time the class was being held, and maybe someone should do something about punishing him for that. THEN, go home. Cry. Get your MOM to phone the English department to complain about this professor who was reprehensibly not in class when he was supposed to be, even though, like, it was TOTALLY the SECOND class, and what are these professors being paid for, anyway? Have Mom get absolutely livid when the secretary suggests maybe you went to the wrong room, or mistook the class time. What kind of people are they employing at these universities to make outlandish suggestions when CLEARLY what is happening can in no way be attributed to a simple mistake, or getting lost, or something. Regard the secretary’s reasonable suggestion that you email the professor to ask if there is any reason the class might have moved rooms as insulting. Have Mom call back a couple times asking to be moved up the chain of command. After an hour or so, finally give in and have Mom email the professor with a rude, accusatory email complaining about the lack of information and notification about the class. Do not, under any circumstances, check your university email, where you might find a copy of your syllabus, containing information about the room, which is, in fact, the one listed, and was, in fact, occupied by your English class during the hours advertised.

Did you pick B? Congratulations, you are this semester’s duly crowned Snow Princess.

I am desperate to find out what is going to happen next class. I replied to Mom’s email with a description of where the room was. I am hoping the student shows up and accuses me of being a Time Lord who has disguised my Tardis as the classroom. Feel free to speculate heavily in the comments. I’ll update you in a couple days.

Happy, as it were, Anniversary.

The other day my friend V pointed out that it had been a year since I last wrote a post. “So,” she said, “Happy  Anniversary, I guess?” Reader, she said “Happy Anniversary,” but what I heard was “You Suck” and it was a fully justified criticism. I have few excuses to offer. My main one is that I have been posting stories in other forums which have been fulfilling my need to vent, but mostly with fewer swears and less detail. I have also been working on a longer form writing project, about which I may reveal tantalizing glimpses later. Also, I blame Animal Crossing.

I had a fucking craptacular spring semester. I will tell you about parts of it, but such a marathon story there has not been since Pineapple Boy. I shall give it to you in installments. Here’s the teaser-trailer. In my class in spring I had a student who was a little, how you say, OFF. She tended to stare blankly during class discussion. When asked to report on her preparation for class which involved posting something to the class forum and then being prepared to discuss it, her responses were … well, peculiar. Let’s say I framed an assignment like “write a post about your opinions on the controversy surrounding GMO foods”; this student would post a picture of a carrot. When asked about it, she would say “I like carrots”.

Because of the student’s behaviour in class – she often had a laptop open, and she would also do word-finds during lectures or when we watched a movie, I was unsure whether her poor performance was the predictable result of  inattention. Shocking though it is, sometimes students just don’t pay attention in class. But there was … something … about her that made me reluctant to call her on it. I held my fire through the first 3 weeks of the 7 week semester. At times it was difficult, like on the day she pulled a mini pot of playdoh out of her backpack and started playing with it.  Followed by the day when she pulled out three mini pots of playdoh.

I’ll admit, the words “I’m sorry, are we BORING you?” hovered on the tip of my tongue. But so did another question, a question that there was no way in hell I was going to ask, not in front of the class. Miss Playdohpants’ behaviour began to hover dangerously in the realm of “is a distraction to others”, and a de-playdoh-ized zone began to appear around her in subsequent classes. None of the students who were moving seats voiced a complaint to me, so I didn’t even have that excuse to broach the conversation. The semester was half over, how bad could it get?

Dear Reader, I know you are boggling at my naïveté. OF COURSE IT WOULD GET WORSE.

I shall leave you in suspenders, though, awaiting Part 2.

In the meantime, here is a delightful email exchange that has enlivened my afternoon.

Hello Mr. Whatladder,
My name is Fedora Joe the Nitpicker and I’m a new student at brand name university. While reading over your coarse outline I couldn’t help but notice that the due date for the final project (page 8) was on September 9th. I thought I should bring this to your attention because it is worth a decent portion of our final grade and considering the date is tomorrow I believe that this must have been a typo. If you could possibly send out an email stating the proper date for the final project that would be excellent.
Could I let that one go without a reply? You know I could not.
Dear Fedora Joe the Nitpicker
Thanks for pointing out my typo. I feel like I need to return the favour: its MS Whatladder, not Mr; Brand Name (capitalization is required) and course outline, not “coarse outline”.
 I am not going to send an email as you suggest, because I have amended the document, and 95% of the students in the class haven’t taken their heads out of their asses yet to check their email.
If you had looked at the schedule (pages 6-7), you would have seen the project date was correct on that page.
See you in class tomorrow. I will know you by your fedora.
At least he’s pro-active. The ones who keep asking me where their moms need to go to sort out various administrative details are causing me rather more concern.

If you need me, I’ll be on the island, catching bugs.