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.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Is it Summer Yet?

Or: Who will come visit me in jail?

Because I am THIS close to seriously injuring my students.

Today was not a good day. For starters, I had to read these two sentences. In one paper. I have crowned these two sentences: The most poorly written sentences, EVER:

Feeling guilty about the event as well as being poor in the fact that her parent-in-laws owned and funded the house that she lived in as well as paid her bills, Claire came to the realization that having a baby would not be a good ideal financially-wise as well as the fact of how disappointing it would be to the family to find out that she had sex with her deceased husband’s brother and harbored a child by him.

In viewing this video it made me realize that the issue of abortion is a two-edge sword type situation: one who is pro-life would argue that abortionist try to play gob, but on the other end of the spectrum it can be argued that it says primarily in the Bible that god gives us choices, So a lot of the arguments made for and against abortion are religiously filled more so than morally (in my opinion.)

Okay, first things first. A good friend of mine, who happens to be an excellent writer and in fact should have her own blog (hint, hint!) said that people should not be allowed to use words they don't quite understand. Agreed. And then some. The last time I checked, pregnant women do not harbor fetuses. People harbor fugitives. And maybe secret grudges.

Next: I am beginning to wonder if any middle schools in the U.S. teach about run-on sentences because never in my life have I seen so many run-on sentences as the number of run-on sentences I have seen in the past semester which reminds me of this thing I saw on Oprah the other day called "Schools in Crisis" which brings me back to my point about run-on sentences that I think schools are no longer teaching about and also I have concerns that my brain cells die a painful, shrieking death with every run-on sentence that I read and my own writing just gets worse and worse and worse and worse. (I really hope you realize this last sentence was a parody.)

On to worst sentence ever written Part Deux: Who, exactly, is gob? Is this who Tom Cruise worships? That would explain a lot. Also, I like how the student capitalized the Bible - she seems to know that much. But even when gob transforms into god, still no capitalization there. Maybe gob and god are brothers who, for reasons unknown to us humans, don't like their names capitalized?

That was just one paper. THEN we had class. The end of the semester is nearing, and students are officially panicking. I may have mentioned at least once or twice that my students have to write FOUR reaction/review papers about speakers or videos. Since the beginning of the semester, I have given them the following "reaction opportunities":

  • Clips from the movie Kinsey (a must-see, AND Liam Neeson was robbed by the Academy if you ask me)
  • The first vignette in the HBO home movie If These Walls Could Talk
  • American Experience: The Pill (a PBS documentary)
  • a lengthy clip from And the Band Played On
  • a video I borrowed from the university called Labor of Love, that shows - you guessed it - a real birth
  • A very old Dateline episode about the case of John-Joan and Jade Cox - individuals with "gender issues" (to say the least)
  • I had a panel of gay, bisexual and transgender students speak to the class about their coming-out stories
  • I had Dr. L. (who inspired the "White Witch" paper written by Inappropriate Sister) come speak about birth control
  • I had my advisor come do a fantabulous presentation about sexually transmitted infections
  • I had another colleague come do a presentation on the human sexual response cycle
  • I have also shown a few CNN news clips about various topics - female circumcision, sexual dysfunction, all really upbeat, fun stuff like that.

And at the end of class today, I had half a dozen students crowding around me, wanting to know if I had planned at least FOUR speakers/videos beween now and the end of the semester because they hadn't done any of their reaction papers yet. The class meets EXACTLY four more times. I have scheduled the last class as a review for the final. One of the students (male) was borderline indignant with me!!! "Well, what am I supposed to DO if there aren't four more speakers or videos?" Since saying, "I dunno. Bite me, I guess," didn't seem very professional, I went with the standard answer I use when I don't know what to say, "Let me think about it."

And guess who was one of the other ones in line whining about not having completed enough reaction papers? Inappropriate brother. Who also asked me, "Do you have a grade book you carry with you?" Why, yes. Yes, I do. My whole life is nothing but you and this class and personally, I never leave home without it. Our university has an online grading system, which I use as my only gradebook. Cuts down on paper AND students can check it regularly so there should be no unpleasant "end of semester surprises." Well, I got quite the unpleasant surprise when Inappropriate Brother told me today (after he woke up from his hour-long nap) that he had not been able to access the online gradebook for quite some time now and didn't know how he was doing in the class. This is not good news. Inappropriate Brother, as it happens, is borderline FAILING my class. He is hovering in the D- range (which is what happens when you choose to use the Bible as your textbook in my class, instead of the actual, how should I put it? TEXTBOOK!) which might as well be an "F." I have been suffering under the delusion that he has been aware of this and alas, no. I expect that when he does finally figure out how to break that crack web of security that surrounds the university website and looks at his grade, I will be on the receiving end of a torrent of badly written, poorly-spelled e-mails explaining why he needs to not fail my class. I will keep you posted.

And last, but not least: A little lesson for anyone in school: Speaking for all college instructors everywhere, I can say with some confidence that if you want your instructor to make some kind of special exception for you, it is in your best interest to not ASK for that exception in front of the entire class. Because you have put your instructor on the spot, and the answer will be "no." And also? College is supposed to be hard, you whiny little fuckers and it's not my problem. Female student says at the end of class today: "I have THREE finals on the same day as this one, so I need to take this final another day." Well, you know what? I NEED to not have cystic acne all over my face right now. I also NEED three months off from paying my bills.

I'm not sure when or how this happened, but apparently, college is the new Club Med. Just ask, and you shall receive. Don't study. Don't go to class. Don't stand for a stressful finals week. You deserve MORE. You're paying (or your parents are) for this education, so you should be treated like you're on a four-year vacation. Somethin' got ya troubled? Just complain! We'll fix it. The last thing we want is for you to have to strain your brain cells. That would be bad.

I managed to refrain from such a sarcastic outburst and said something about the department chair being pretty clear on not giving alternate finals. That is true, but I was still flabbergasted. I have 50 students in that class. I imagine that means there could be 49 other students who would rather take my final at a more convenient time. You take a final. You don't schedule it like a tee-time. But I was even more taken aback by her reaction: It was the same reaction I've seen people have in stores when the sales associate doesn't understand the return policy. She was pissed. At me. And clearly thought I was really quite the idiot. She spoke to me slowly and clearly like I was just a little bit on the slow side: "But. What. Am. I. Supposed. To. Do? (Long pause coupled with evil stare). I have another final right. before. this. one. (Now extra-evil hexing-stare). There is a chance I'll be LATE for your final." I told her that was fine, and then I got the hell out of that classroom as soon as I could, looking over my shoulder all the way back to my office. I'm scared.


Anonymous janet said...

seriously, I do not know how you don't explode. Like at least 4 times per class? Do they teach patience to doctoral students?

April 13, 2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

That's why they give teachers the summers off - so we don't explode. Plus, it helps the students live longer, too.

April 13, 2006 10:06 PM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

I love that you called them "fuckers." LOVE. IT.

I have to admit, I've done the "I don't understand -- don't you see this WILL NOT WORK FOR ME?!? I AM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE!" thing before - with doctor's offices. I'm like "Okay, you don't understand. I WORK. I HAVE A JOB. And your goddamn hours are going to force me to USE LEAVE to come here. Not gonna happen." And they're all "Too bad, then you'll just have to die, fucker!" as soon as I walk away.

April 14, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

"You take a final, you don't schedule it like a tee-time. Brilliant! Scary to learn how entitled the post-X generation is. I don't know how you or any other professors/teachers can stand it.

April 14, 2006 1:56 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

Have you seen "Arrested Development"? Because Gob is a character on it and he rules.

Anyway, as I was reading your run on sentence, it made me nervous. Seriously nervous. I don't know that I could MAKE myself type something out like that.

And why are people so retarded?

April 14, 2006 4:07 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

holy crap...I just wrote up a long comment for this post. And then realized it wasn't on this post.

And I have NO IDEA what blog I was commenting on.

And I'm about to die of shame.

Because...really...where did I POST!?

April 14, 2006 4:09 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

and now I just realized that you have to "approve" comments. So maybe I did make the comment on your blog.

And maybe I AM THE retarded one.

(the shame, oh, the shame)

April 14, 2006 4:09 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

It's okay. We're all a little retarded in gob's eyes.

April 14, 2006 4:20 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

Yes, I guess we all are.

Thanks for understanding!

April 14, 2006 4:25 PM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

I'm in a minimalist mood today so I will simply say, "Praise Gob!!"

April 14, 2006 6:28 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

I love the end-of-semester freak out. We had quite a few people melt the fuck down last year in my gen-ed class. Oh man. And the worst part of that class was that they were all freshmen, and most of them dropped/failed out shortly after I handed my grades in.

Really, there are many students who think that they shouldn't have to take more than one final in a day. Usually the ones who think they're so smart for taking ALL Tuesday-Thursday classes.

Fuckers is right. I can't wait to teach at art school, so I can just talk like that to 'em :)

April 14, 2006 6:49 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

College is supposed to be hard, you whiny little fuckers and it's not my problem.

Oh, this has me cracking the hell up! I so want to say that to the little 18 year-old girl who sits next to me in biology. She's been whining about her grade since the second day of class, yet she's constantly late, turns in papers late, hasn't a CLUE what the syllabus is or that she'd know what to study for if she kept it handy.

Oh, man, and I thought it was just me who felt this way about other students. I love that teachers feel the same.

April 15, 2006 6:04 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

PLEASE tell her that! Your professor will probably give you extra credit, because I will bet my right arm that your professor feels the exact same way!

April 15, 2006 7:23 PM  
Blogger Schietto Sister said...

Let me understand. This student wanted to take an alternate final because she had another final right before your final? Hello? That is college. Who hasn't had two finals in a row? I think gob would be really disappointed.

April 16, 2006 12:52 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Yep, that's right. Too many finals in one day. I agree with you 110% - isn't that part of the whole "college experience?" Stress, juggling more than one class, finals week, et CETERA!?

April 16, 2006 1:56 PM  
Blogger Kirdy said...

Holy mother of all run on sentences. I thought I had perfected the run onb sentence to near art form, but that monstrosity made me squirm uncomfortably.

Must now go scrub brain.

April 16, 2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

There is just too much I want to write now about this!! Here goes:

One of the professors at our college actually let the students vote about what time they wanted to have their final because apparently their scheduled time conflicted with some of the 3 other finals they had that day, so all the students voted to have it at 2am. They thought surely, the professor wouldn't give it then. Wrong!!! They all had to show up at 2am and take the final. (It did give them some kind of strange bragging rights the next year, though.)

We have a friend who is actually a professor at a college in our town - electrical engineering (but he's really a physicist). He is LOVING screwing with all the students' heads like our professors used to screw with us. One of our professors actually used the phrase, "I'm going to show you this once and never again - so don't ask questions!!!"

Anyway this friend of ours is a really nice guy and a very good teacher, but he has no patience for stupidity. It's really fun to hear his stories of being a hard-ass with his stupid students!

The best story, though, from college is about this class that everyone had to take and pass in order to graduate, Quant. Lab. (it was an engineering college, and if I remember correctly, that stands for Quantitative Laboratory) As we were all waiting in line to get our grades, one of the students ahead of us got a little bad news.

The professor calculated his last lab. "Oh, that's not good." he told the student. "A 38. Doesn't look good. Well, let's see what your other grades were." The professor punches in grades into his calculator, punches some more buttons, "Yep, not good. See? 55." holding the calculator out for the student to see. "So, what are you doing this summer?!"

The student, clearly troubled by this turn of events says, "Well, I was hoping to get a job this summer, but I guess I can come take the class again."

The professor responded, "Great! See you in June! NEXT!!!"

I guess you just have to become really, really thick-skinned and not be afraid of your students' failings. Treat them like adults and maybe they'll begin to act like it. (Ha!! Good luck with that!)

April 17, 2006 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Lady S said...

My lovely, tiny, all-women, honor-coded, liberal arts college let us take exams when we wanted to.

Of course, there were scheduled times, twice a day, every day for a week, but I didn't have to take Psych at 9 am on Tuesday and History at 10:30 on Wednesday. There were also open book tests that you could take nearly when or where ever you wanted.

I loved college.

July 05, 2006 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

I just discovered your blog. I teach English at a community college...I think we have some of the same students. I'll tell you my absolute best story (this is an old one, from a couple of semesters ago). We're in the library working on an annotated bibliography. I'm a mean, strict teacher and insist that of the NINE! sources that they have to find, TWO! have to be books. "Real, physical books that you can hold in your hands," I tell them. "You don't have to read it cover-to-cover, but you have to hold it in your hands and look at the pages." I've had students resent this requirement, and I've had them ignore it, but (until the day on which this story occurred) I'd never had one not understand it. On that fateful day, a student turned around from his computer to look at me, pointed to the screen (on which I could see "New York Times" and the Proquest frames) and said, "Does this count as a book?"

Will you be my inappropriate-soul-sister?

August 10, 2006 12:54 AM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Alex, you bet I will! I wish you had your own blog!

August 10, 2006 8:32 AM  
Blogger ProfessorDog said...

Oh, I'm so glad you said that, because now I do! Inspired by yours. Let's see if I can figure out how to link to it.... I put you on my links list; I hope that's OK.

We differ, by the way, on the subject of Rodents as Pets.

August 11, 2006 1:57 AM  

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