Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And We're Off!

Well, today was the day. My students (some of them) turned in their first papers - a review/reaction of the movie Kinsey. The longer I teach, the longer my syllabus grows. I figured that the reason students weren't doing certain things (stapling their papers, for example) was because I simply wasn't being clear about what I expected. My latest (and longest) syllabus could not be more explicit (in my opinion) about papers. The reaction papers are supposed to be a minimum of 3 pages. Double spaced. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. One inch margins all the way around. Stapled (if not stapled, instructor will deduct 5 points), and a cover sheet (another 5 points deducted if no cover sheet.)

And yet. Personally, when it comes to school stuff, I like structure. If you (as my instructor) tell me that a paper must be between 18-20 pages, I get that. At no point in my sometimes seriously malfunctioning brain do I think, "Hmm. She must not mean me. I'm going to type 10 pages instead." If you (as my instructor) tell me that I need a minimum of 12 references from scholarly journals, I am pretty confident that you and I are on the same page where "12" is concerned.

Today, one of my students handed me his assignment - not stapled, no cover sheet. He asked (which means he knew he was violating something, even if he wasn't sure exactly what), "I didn't staple my paper and I don't have a cover sheet. What does that mean?" I replied, "That means you lose 10 points." Then, student got a bit of a 'tude, rolled his eyes and mumbled, "Just forget it, then. I'll do another one." Exasperated sigh. Is he THAT put upon by my requests? Is stapling one's paper the modern-day equivalent of walking 5 miles to school, uphill both ways, in the snow, wearing a paper dress? Honestly, maybe I'm kooky that way, but I never really thought taking that extra step to staple my paper was tantamount to say, donating a kidney. A few other students managed the staple thing, but failed on the cover sheet. And then, finally, more than a few students turned in, oh, about 2 and a quarter pages. This is not three pages. This is barely two (in my opinion.) I am DYING to ask them, "What is your thought process?" Seriously. What part of "minimum of three pages" don't you understand? Is it THAT hard to write a few more paragraphs? Think of something remotely intelligent and record it? I guess. Perhaps I will find out when they get their papers back, with points deducted for failing to meet minimum requirements. That's always fun.

I leave the classroom and see some papers on the floor. On a hunch, I bend down and pick them up and they are my student's unstapled paper(s). All the world's a trashcan, apparently! Oddly, next to the trashcan where I threw out the paper was a rather large female student sleeping, homeless style, on the floor. Semi-fetal position, curled up facing the wall, sleeping on a floor so disgusting I wouldn't let my dog pee on it. It was the only time in my life I wished for a camera phone because I knew that NO ONE would believe me.

Those two incidents made me think about all the stupid/dangerous/disgusting things I did in college. Some of the bars I frequented had bathrooms so foul I can't believe they weren't shut down by the board of health, and I used them on more than one occasion, so I get that one's standards of cleanliness change with age. But. I am almost 99.9% certain that I never slept on the hallway floor of a public building. Perhaps I shouldn't mock and I'm being insensitive. Maybe the young lady was narcoleptic? But, she didn't look like she spontaneously fell into a sleeping position or a diabetic coma - she looked pretty well camped out there (using backpack as pillow). And just in case you think I'm overreacting or being prissy, you must think about one of the most disgusting surfaces you've ever seen, and then imagine sleeping on it. This floor is THAT dirty.


Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

Last semester, I got a handwritten, yes HANDWRITTEN paper. And not only was it not TYPED per the syllabus' instructions, it was damn near illegible. And trying to get them to go to the museum, you know, to see real art instead of reproductions? is impossible! You're exactly right, they have an idea that they're not following the rules, but don't understand why it's a problem. sigh!

January 31, 2006 8:26 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Why IS this? I don't understand. Handwritten? Seriously. What was his/her rationale? Did you give him/her a big fat "F"? God, I hope so. It's official. I'm no longer just neurotic and bitchy, I am evil personified.

January 31, 2006 10:23 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

Well, he got an F even without taking into account the sheer laziness and the obvious fact that he wrote it during class. It was that bad.

February 01, 2006 12:55 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

What is the point of spending thousands of dollars to get an "F"? I understand if you're mathematically challenged (like me, for example) and you do everything in your power to succeed and you still fail. But getting an F just because you're lazy? Why are you in school in the first place? Maybe he was a freshman?

February 02, 2006 10:44 AM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

Oh those students were definitely freshmen. And the best part about working at a giant public university is that they let damn near everyone in and then let them fail out (after taking their money for about a year, anyway). So it looks like I get to be the crusher of the college dreams of sub-par students. Lovely.

Also, I forgot to mention that he just...stopped?... in the middle of a sentence. Yeah.

February 02, 2006 1:44 PM  

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