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, June 29, 2006

Patience is a Virtue

Just not my virtue.

Once I saw Sylvia Browne on Montel Williams (I swear - I swear I was channel surfing. I watch loads of bad television, but that is one type of bad TV I don't actually watch.) Anyway, apparently, SB believes something about how we all have one major "life lesson," and blah, blah, blah. Well guess what? My life lesson is clearly patience. Because I have none. Nor have I had any that I can recall. Perhaps I should get some. I would probably die a lot later if I did. Plus, I know my life would be a lot easier. But, gob, have people been acting stupid lately.

Exhibit A: Solitaire girl walked into class Tuesday wearing a little spaghetti strap thing that was not much bigger than a cocktail napkin. She was also wearing shorts and flip-flops. It was exactly our tenth class in that building. And guess what? It's really air-conditioned in there. Really, really air-conditioned. I've been in meat lockers (literally) that are warmer than that building. So most of us wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts and bring extra layers just in case. Why? I don't know. Maybe because we're not idiots. Not even five minutes into class, Solitaire girl raises her hand and says in her Southern accent, "Hey, y'all. It is SO cold in here that I cannot concentrate. Is it okay if we change rooms?" I am evil. I said loudly, "Don't worry. Playing Solitaire rigorously will warm you up." I don't think she heard me. Our poor professor. She is just so nice. She wanted to be accommodating. "Well, we could try, but there's no guaranteeing that we won't get kicked out in an hour when the class who is supposed to be in that classroom shows up." Then SG says, "Well, what about room 119? That room is always empty." Let me tell you something about room 119. There's a reason it's always empty. Probably because it used to be a janitor's closet. Or a place to keep the dead bodies. There are, maybe, 15 desks literally smashed in there. I had a class in there two years ago and it. is. miserable. The professor looked around uncomfortably. "Well, . . . I suppose, if you really want to. I'll have to ask the rest of the class. Is it okay if we move?" A man who I didn't like before (for taking lots and lots of cell phone calls) is my new best friend. He said loudly and clearly. "No. I don't want to move. It's too crowded in 119 and we're already here." He didn't add, "Oh. And by the way? You're a dumb-ass for dressing like you're going to a picnic on the beach." But I still like him anyway. Solitaire girl proceeded to shiver dramatically and just said, "Okay, but I can't even think straight it's so cold in here." Guess what I did? I gave her my hoodie. Because I could not listen to her for one. more. minute. And because I was actually warm. What with the perimenopause and all.

Exhibit B: The section I'm teaching this summer meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 4:30 - 8:30 p.m. It's pretty brutal. For me and the students. But I try to make it fun. I give them lots of breaks, etc., Since the summer session is only 5 weeks, and we're off for the Fourth of July, and the last class meeting is the final, we actually only meet 8 times. One of my students, let's call him Bobby, didn't show up the first week of class. He e-mailed me that Sunday with something about "extenuating circumstances beyond his control" (sounds like bullshit, if you ask me) and what did he need to know to be prepared for class this Tuesday. I e-mailed him back and told him to have read the first five chapters in the book and I attached a copy of my syllabus. I may have mentioned it, but my syllabus is very detailed. So Tuesday comes and no Bobby at first. He shows up at 5:45. That is an hour and 15 minutes late for those of you not big on math. And what's funny? He actually arrived just in time for the break at 6:00. I gave them a 15 minute break, right? Guess who comes back in at 6:45? Bobby. I mean, really. Why bother, dude? He was also nearly an hour late on Thursday and once again made the 15 minute break into a 35 minute break.

So tonight is their big midterm. When he finished, he said to me, "Um, yeah. I don't really know what's going on, since I missed the first week of class. What's with those papers you keep talking about?" I just stared at him. "Didn't you read the syllabus I sent you?" He said no. I was brave Teacher Lady and said as politely as possible. "Why not?" He said, "I didn't see there was an attachment." I believe I wrote in the e-mail, "Attached you will find a copy of the course syllabus and that should explain everything." Maybe he didn't read the e-mail? Maybe he can't read? But see? This is the kind of shit I have absolutely no patience for. None. We have two more class meetings. That's it. Two more and then the final. Don't you think you'd ask your professor for a syllabus if you didn't "notice" one in the e-mail attachment? You wait until the SIXTH class meeting (which is over 50% of the whole entire summer session) to ask what's going on?

Maybe I should not be in one of the "helping" professions. Because if I were a nicer, more patient person, I would not be so exasperated by this crap. Maybe it's because I'm still shocked and surprised with every new instance of student apathy. Maybe it's because I continue to be awestruck by the absolute plethora of ways in which students can fuck up. Really. It boggles the mind. Maybe I'm not so much impatient as easily shocked. Okay. That's what I've decided. That's my problem. I'm easily shocked. Thank you for supporting me in this delusion.


Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

I'm right there with ya. You've seen what I'm still dealing with, from a farking year ago. I understand the impulse to give grad students more credit, but I have to wonder, if college is the new highschool, isn't grad school the new undergrad? *she says, in her best Carrie Bradshaw impersonation*

June 29, 2006 8:24 PM  
Blogger Fat Head said...

That is some crazy shiz.

June 29, 2006 8:46 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

He asked these questions AFTER taking the midterm? Hell no, he doesn't deserve any patience. I'd be hard pressed to give a rat's ass even if he'd approached you BEFORE the midterm. If he doesn't read the syllabus, how does he know what each class meeting will cover, let alone what he might be tested on during the midterm?

And Solitaire Girl is just pathetic. Really. I've been a slacker student, and if you aren't going to pay attention, then just stay home. Much more comfortable.

Teacher lady, I think you are the right person to be teaching. There is no reason that young adults should be spoonfed, and the sooner they learn that, the better off they will be. And I say that as a former slacker student who took full responsibility for my slacking, even though I'm sure that my professors would have blogged about me (if there had been blogs back then).

June 29, 2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

I think the worst of it all is that you have no backup on this. If Exhibit B flunks, he totally deserves it. Yet something tells me he's going to whine to a higher up and that jellyfish you report to is going to give in and, well, you know how it works. That is not just ridiculous, that is abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous.

*falls into a coma muttering the words "personal responsibility" over and over again*

June 29, 2006 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Vic said...


June 29, 2006 9:40 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Thanks for your support everybody - especially Mothergoose Mouse. He doesn't know what chapters we cover(ed) in each class - but most student don't do their assigned reading anyway, so it doesn't really matter. I posted a study guide to the class website, so that's probably how he at least knew what to study for.

June 29, 2006 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could not agree with your more - I'm not an instructor, but a 36 year old undergrad student who goes to a large, state U. after working all day (to try and get the B.A. I screwed up and didn't get after high school - whoops)- I cannot BELIEVE what some people do/say/wear to class. I can't believe what they expect from the instructor. I don't know how you do it - my hat's off to you!

Chris in Cleveland, OH

June 30, 2006 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Oh, you are very patient! Let's not confuse "patient" with "doormat." I agree with the mothergoosemouse. You're teaching them personal responsibility. If not now, when?

June 30, 2006 8:29 AM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

I wholeheartedly agree, "It boggles the mind." I would asume that the way one takes their responsibilities about school is the same way they will veiw their responsibilities about work. I shudder to think what it's going to be like when this group gets out and starts working, we'd all better plan on a late retirement or the whole system will shut down do to this lack of concern.

June 30, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger happychyck said...

Maybe you're an old-school girl stuck in a modern world? All this stuff seems pretty typical...sadly. Sure we all have to deal with people like this, but nobody said we had to be nice about it. Keep it real!

June 30, 2006 11:31 AM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

All this stuff is typical? Oy. Maybe I should quit teaching and look into inventing a time machine. If the "modern world" means that stupid people (i.e., Solitaire Girl) don't have the common sense God gave a goat and then expect everyone else to make changes because of their stupidity, I want out of 2006!

June 30, 2006 1:15 PM  
Anonymous isabel said...

Those pesky attachments are so hard to see! Gasp.

July 01, 2006 2:01 PM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

Well, if Bobby fails the class, then too bad for him. Thems the breaks, kid.

My brother has failed math courses at his community college more times than I can remember -- hopefully one of these days he'll get the hang of How to Successfully Pass a Course That Requires a Bit of Work on One's Own Behalf. In the meanwhile he has to keep forking over the money to take it again and again! *sigh*

July 03, 2006 11:56 AM  

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