Category Archives: knitting

Good Lord, another semester.

It occurs that I haven’t written a post in a while. This is because I was comatose, enjoying the break between semesters, eating, drinking, procrastinating and watching Foyle’s War. Of course, I was also using this time to choke down my raeg, and gird my loins.

I have been pondering the issue of student entitlement – there’s so much of it, and we talk about Generation Snow, and everyone has their stories to tell. (This morning, I got a good laugh out of this guy, whose name alone is worth a chuckle or two.) I also spent some time on my break talking to a student who is genuinely FURIOUS that his university professors won’t give him 100% for learning 75% of the material for his courses. No, seriously. Stop snorting. His argument was that since he only needed to know 75% of the material, the other 25% was just there for suck-ups who wanted to impress the professor.

Plus, they are making him take classes on stuff he already knows. He knows that stuff! And then he goes into class with a shitty attitude, and doesn’t do very well! Even though he knows the material! It makes him angry!

Let’s call it Too Good for This Class syndrome. There’s this student (most often male, but sometimes she’s female), and for whatever reason – innate arrogance, a lifetime of having his self of steam stroked, procrastination over doing my petty little Freshman Comp course – this student comes into the classroom on Day 3 (having missed Days 1 and 2 because, you know, who needs introductory information), convinced that I have nothing to offer and that he or she really just should be given an A for being just that awesome.

Here’s the thing: some of these students might be bright, they might be able students who are capable of getting good grades… Okay, some of them are dipshits like the Groomer, who can’t spell and wouldn’t know a supported argument if it bit them in the ass, but I digress. Even if they are students who have previously been successful, they will often shoot themselves in the foot by assuming that this class that the institution has mandated that they take, and will not let them test out of, has nothing to offer. So they don’t attend, and they assume they know what’s going on and they do all the things that bad students do, and they end up doing badly in courses where, yes, they probably ought to have earned an A.

The issue here is the confusion between the ability to earn the grade, and the impression that you deserve the grade.

I had one of these last semester. She would come to class (when she came, which admittedly was not often), and would sit and sigh audibly. She refused to participate in class discussion, and fairly rapidly stopped coming to discussion classes at all. The course was structured so that there was a discussion class each week, followed by a writing lab, in which students did practical writing exercises based on the ideas we had discussed the previous class. Missing the previous class meant that this particular student always thought she knew what the writing assignment entailed, but she always missed the nuance of what was required. Well, to be fair, sometimes she missed the point altogether, and on occasion she handed in work that was full of grammatical and spelling errors.

When I pointed this out, she told me that she had already taken Advanced Composition (the level above this class), as if that excused any errors. Dude. If you have taken Advanced Comp, why are you still spelling “definitely” as “defiantly”? Wait, don’t tell me.

She got angry about her grades, and complained that she should be doing better, as if it were my fault. Well, I wasn’t recognizing her genius. I suggested coming to class, an idea that was met with utter derision.

When the major research paper was due, she handed hers in without the required coversheet(It’s a pedagogical thing I do, not an asshole bureaucratic thing. I SWARE), triggering the following exchange:

Me: Where’s your coversheet where you amusingly try to predict your grade?
Her: What sheet?
Me: The one we talked about in class, that I gave out, like twice, in class.
Her: I didn’t get one.
Me: Maybe that’s because you didn’t come to class.
Her: HMMMMPH!! [followed by taking the sheet, filling it in, and then flinging her essay at me. Flung essays always get better grades.]

After the final (during which she wrote a rant about how incensed she was about having to take my class – fabulous, would lol again: zero out of 10 – she came up to me and said asked if I could recommend any books she could read that would help her with her writing style.

Resisting the urge to stab her in the eye with the knitting needle I was conveniently holding, I replied, “How about the textbook for this class?”

A confession…

Sometimes, when I don’t want to tell people what I do, I tell them I am a goat farmer. Usually, I then go on about cheese, rather than spinning or fibre, but it’s always goats.

So, when I saw this awesome goat giveaway, I was totally tempted to write an essay. Sadly, though, I don’t think inner-suburban yuppieville is going to be judged a suitable home for FIVE goats and a shed. And while, in my head I am an awesome goat-carer, I am not utterly sure that I have the necessary practical skills. Instead, I am nagging people I know who DO have acreages to enter the contest, so that I can live vicariously through them.

So, dear reader, if you have the room, and have always wanted goats, I urge you to enter. I will even read a draft of your essay, I so utterly want someone I know to win this. Goat essays, I can do.

Also, look how croot!

goat

Happy Easter and other crafty pursuits.

Hem. I have been slack. This is due to many factors, but I put most of the blame squarely on knitting, which I have been doing a lot of. Also hanging out on ravelry, because that is what us knitters do, nowadays, apparently. (If you don’t know about ravelry, it’s like Facebook for people who knit, except that it has actual, useful applications. Also, I am sorry to tell you, if you don’t know about ravelry, you are tragically non-hip.)

I learned to knit in my teens, when it totally wasn’t cool, out of a book my mother gave me which had nice, clear instructions for how to make more hideous garments than you would ever care to shake a stick at. She did this because she already, at that age, had me pegged as “crafty”; better at womanly pursuits like cooking and sewing (I was making my own clothes by the time I was 12) than she was. Which was a slight contradiction, because, in fact, she was the one who taught me to sew, but I committed the cardinal sin of apparently enjoying it, rather than seeing sewing as a chore, or a frugal duty. My mother was a pretty strong feminist, you see; not that I am not, but she definitely had that whole doing things that are gendered female is bad thing going on. At least in some areas. One day I will tell you all about her 3 husbands. But I digress.

Well, not entirely, because I kind of wanted to write about this tension between craftiness and intellect, clearly exemplified by Stephanie in this post. Stephanie is quite possibly the most intellectual person I know, and her blog is smart and funny and highbrow and sometimes very moving (and again, if you don’t read it: tragically non-hip), and yet it made me really uneasy to see her expressing that idea that somehow talking about crafting objects is inappropriate; like somehow admissions that you are good with your hands maybe means you are less good with your brain. Or maybe that’s just my issue showing.

The other side of the coin, which really doesn’t help with the whole “smart feminists can’t also be knitters” meme, is that conversations on ravelry’s forums show a tendency (horribly common in female-dominant communities) to succumb to pressure not to express unpopular opinions, because, however civilly they are expressed, saying contentious things is “not nice”. And heaven forbid that women utter any words that are “not nice”, because of course that opens them up to being labelled as bitchy.

Unfortunately, I cannot point you to the discussion to see for yourself, because ravelry discussions are only visible to members. The discussion was about Yarn Harlot, and whether her humour is gendered, but it rapidly descended into a whole bunch of shrill “You can’t talk about her! She’s a member here! You are not nice!” hysteria. Even though the discussion was exceedingly civil, and in some cases quite literary critical, rather than personally critical (my opinons were of the milder sort, but unpopular – I don’t think she’s very entertaining, but for god’s sake don’t tell anyone). You’ll notice the strong strain of anti-intellectualism mixed in with the whole “be nice” directive here, too, dear reader.

Having managed to alienate another mostly female community by (according to my adversaries) “overthinking and bringing feminism and literary criticism into everything,” I felt I knew where this was going, but at the same time, I don’t want to leave it alone. It bugs me that I cannot be a smart woman who thinks about stuff, and at the same time, a woman who is good at traditionally female activities like knitting or sewing, or who has an interest in Boarding School Stories for girls, or a Nintendo obsession.

I don’t have an answer, or a pearl of wisdom, here. Apologies if you were looking for closure.

Also, we made some kick-ass Easter Eggs.

Pointing and laughing at idiots, and other hobbies.

So, you know I have a class full of dumbasses, but I also have a class of smartarses, which, oddly enough, is actually my remedial (in that it is a Grade 12 equivalent course) class. This class is like an academic lucky dip (a misnomer, surely, because all my childhood memories of winning handkerchief and pipecleaner dollies would suggest it was more of an unlucky dip); sometimes you get assholes; sometimes you get amoebas; sometimes you get a 2 or 3 dedicated students who had raw deal in high school but who are appreciative of the opportunity; sometimes, in a golden semester, you get 6 or 7 of those, and some of them have a sense of humour.

That’s what I got this time.

Naturally, this makes Sarcastic Bastard hate me.

However, mixed in with the smartarses, who are doing their assignments and their reading and turning up to class cheerfully prepared to have a stab at expressing an opinion on Romeo and Juliet, I have also got Aggro Girl, who went off on a rant at me for being so unreasonable as to assume she would know what a subject and a verb are, Lazy Dude, who dared to ask “Did I miss anything?” even after we read and discussed Tom Wayman’s awesome poem in class, and Mikey.

Mikey is special.

Mikey turns up to class, but he doesn’t pay attention. Now, perhaps this is because he is physically incapable of taking in information. He may be ROMulan (ie his memory is all read-only), which would be sad, but it doesn’t make my classroom a good place for him.

The problem with Mikey is that he sees his problem with taking in information as my problem, or possibly a more global problem (naturally, it isn’t his problem), and so he is constantly asking for explanations of things that have been explained already, sometimes more than twice. I know, you are thinking, “why doesn’t she write stuff on handouts”? but the thing is, I do.

Mikey’s information retention problem extends to written information in the form of handout sheets, none of which he can retain either. I have given him at least 2 copies of every assignment sheet I have handed out to the class, and he still comes to me after every class, claiming to have lost, or often, not to have received, handouts.

The reason Mikey is annoying, as opposed to merely the object of pity and quiet derision, is his determination to spread his problem around. His conversation with me on Tuesday is a prime example. He came up to me after class (a class with a librarian, which I had scheduled specifically n order for students to get help with their research assignments, by the way), and asked for yet another copy of the assignment sheet. “I don’t think you actually handed them out to the class,” he claimed, despite the fact that everyone else obviously had the sheets because they were, you know, working from the sheets with the librarian. Then he went on to chastise me about the assessment for the course. “No one knows what the assignments are. I really think you should go through them in class so everyone can be clear what they are.”

I have to admit, gentle reader, that this really pissed me off, and so, I plotted my revenge, which occurred thusly:

Me [coming in to class, and being all cheerful and shit]: So, Mikey says no one in this class knows what the assignments are or when they are due, and that I should go over them all with you.
Class [groans]: No wai! We have all handouts and shit for this! We are totally clear!
Me: Now, don’t be shy; Mikey was brave enough to come to me with this problem, so I will respect your issues here, and I can spend a half hour at least going through this stuff with you.
Class: Can’t we please watch the second half of Shakespeare in Love?
Me: Assessment is important, and I don’t want any of you to be confused.
Class [more groaning].
Aggro Girl: Shouldn’t you wait until Mikey is here before you do that?
Class Clown 1 [throws something at her, behind her back].
Me: No, because that would entirely miss the point of pointing and laughing at him.
[at which point Mikey came in, because clearly karma approves of pointing and laughing at idiots]
Me: So, Mikey, we were just going over the assignments.
Mikey [oblivious to the raucous heckling he is getting from the back row]: Oh, good.
[Here follows several minutes of actual going through of assignments and what’s coming up in class and stuff, punctuated by numerous comments of “This is totally in the Course Outline!” and “We know! You told us already!”]
Me: Okay, just about done, but I need to remind you that we are starting to read short stories next week, so you have to buy your Course Pack, and read the story for next Thursday. [Holds up copy of said Course Pack, which is a horrible day-glow orange; this is a deliberate strategy on my part because I pick the cover to be something hard to misplace.] This is what it looks like, since there was some confusion about it not being in the Bookstore earlier.
Aggro Girl: Mine is blue.
Me: Does it have my name on the cover, and our section number?
Aggro Girl [with the tone of “when will this fucking bitch stop requiring me to know ridiculously esoteric crap?”]: How would I know?
Me: Well, you probably bought the wrong one, but if you go and ask them nicely [thinking: and explain that you are really, really stupid], they might exchange it.
Aggro Girl [absolutely enormous flouncy teenage sigh].
Me: Make sure you get the orange one, with my name on the cover, and read the first story for next Thursday.
Mikey: When do we need to have it by?
Class Clown 2: Dude! You totally didn’t just ask that! Tell me you didn’t seriously ask that!
Me: So can we watch the movie now?
Class: Yes! Already!
Me: Wait, someone’s cell phone is ringing. Who owes us M&Ms?
Aggro Girl: Dammit.

In case you are feeling at all sorry for Mikey, I can advise that he came up to me after class and told me he had lost the essay sheet (again), but that it was okay because he was going to make up his own topic. I can imagine that going well.

In the category “things I never told you about before” (this is a gesture at the fact that SJ tagged me with that meme and I ignored it), I knit. I made this:

scarf.jpg

for the Red Scarf Project. Feckless said “but you don’t do stuff like that.” Apparently I do, on occasion. I like to think that somewhere there is someone who is grateful for the opportunity to go to college – just as an antidote to the aggro and the lazy and the dumbassy.

(Oh, and don’t worry, this is not going to turn into one of those scary knitting blogs where I show you horrific pictures of my ugly projects. I have no idea what it is about knitters that makes them do this; if you don’t believe me, just poke around blogspot with a knitting needle. Okay, now I realise I need to write a whole post dedicated to mocking them.)