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.
Dear Fedora Joe the NitpickerThanks 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.
If you need me, I’ll be on the island, catching bugs.