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.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

To Bring or Not to Bring?

School starts Monday. "Eeek!" about sums it up.

As I was tweaking my syllabus, trying to come up with more rules for my students to ignore, (maybe, please shower at least 24 hours prior to attending this class) Mr. J. made a suggestion: "Perhaps if you're going to require your students to staple their papers, you should bring a stapler to class with you. You know, so you'll be the cool and really nice teacher."

I was incensed. "First of all," I huffed, "I am not cool. I may be deluded about my abilities in a variety of areas, but never - not ever - for one second have I been under the impression that I am cool. So there's no point in trying." Really, once I embraced my inner band-geek, my life got so much easier.

"Also, I have a lot of stuff to carry. A lot. For example, on certain days, I have to carry about 50 cans of Play-Doh. On other days, I carry an extremely large tackle-box-looking thing that contains every type of contraceptive known to woman. Sometimes, it's just those giant flip chart Post-It Note things, and if that isn't enough, there's always my book, the instructor guide, handouts, quizzes and any of their papers that I'm returning. I don't live in that classroom. Do you see me there, now, putting up giant cardboard renditions of puppies and bunnies on my bulletin boards? I don't have a desk - I REFUSE to become a traveling office supply kit on top of everything else."

"I'm just sayin'," Mr. J. said. This is his new saying. He is not from Texas, but you'd never know it lately.

"What?" I demanded. "What are you saying?"

"I'm just saying that maybe if you carried a stapler and maybe you lowered your expectations, maybe you wouldn't be so pissed off and huffy all the time."

Lower my standards to preserve my sanity . . . let me say that again . . . lower my standards to preserve my sanity.

"No," I pouted, sounding much like a three-year-old, "I won't."

He sighed. "Okay," he said. "I think it's going to be a looong semester."



Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

I've gotten that advice so many times, it's appalling! I don't think I expect a lot, after all, I was a B student in undergrad. I didn't really exceed anyone's expectations myself.

But honestly, should you also carry around pencils for exams? Oh, wait, I've lent out my own pens and pencils for exams before.

How many students are we talking, here?

August 23, 2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Ca said...

Seriously, who doesn't have their own stapler? And then even if they don't, there's usually someone in class like me - the person with the mini-stapler in their backpack. That said, if you do decide to bring a stapler per Mr. J's suggestion, a mini-stapler would totally be the way to go. So light and easy to lose!

Anyway, I've been reading a few of your entries today (linked here via Miss Zoot) and am enjoying myself thoroughly! I'll definitely be back.

August 23, 2006 7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am strongly against lowered standards. It cheapens it for those of us who actually try and possess some form of intelligence. What happened to a college education meaning something? As a fellow educator, I say NO! to lowered standards as a form of making my life easier. Besides I am perfectly happy (in fact I take some eensy teensy bit of pleasure in) handing out a stack of papers with big fat red F's to all of those students who thought my class would be an easy A. Take that you lazy collegiate masses.
Aaaaaaaand end rant.

Love your blog. :)

August 23, 2006 8:31 PM  
Blogger ProfessorDog said...

Personally, I bring a stapler. I know they won't get their own, no matter what I say, and bringing it is less trouble than having to sort through a big messy pile of papers and match each rough draft, outline, and peer editing with the appropriate final draft (I teach Writing, so I can't just collect final drafts and leave it at that). But my classroom is just downstairs from my office at one school, and the bag I use at the other school has a cell-phone pocket that is just the right size for my cute purple stapler. You have to decide for yourself what's more aggravating--having one more damn thing to carry, or having to manage unstapled papers.

BTW, Inappropriate Sister may have a relative in my current class-check out my blog for the full story!

August 23, 2006 8:34 PM  
Blogger mjd said...

Any teacher that has students construct reproductive structures out of Play-Doh and then adds to the fun by offering extra-credit is definitely cool, very cool.

Bringing a stapler to class is not especially cool.

August 23, 2006 8:50 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Now, in my 10th years of college, I staple my own papers. I also know where to go on campus to print for free, borrow other supplies, and get things done. What your students need is simply to be more resourceful. Since I live in my truck in the parking lot on campus I don't have access to a printer. But I get by with more than enough time to spare. The students may LIKE you having a stapler but it's yet another excuse for them to be lazy and grow in their worthlessness. Don't do it.

Plus...saving sanity is highly overrated.

August 23, 2006 11:34 PM  
Anonymous susie said...

Maybe you can also bring a printer and a laptop so that they can print out their papers in your classroom! Thus ending the pesky "no time to go to the computer lab" excuse...

I agree with you. No stapler provided!

August 24, 2006 5:46 AM  
Blogger princessfairytoes said...

and just where are you expected to carry this item if your hands are full?

August 24, 2006 8:54 AM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

My college roommate bought my sister a stapler for her highschool graduation. With it, she attached a note : Be the most popular girl on your floor- most profs take off points for unstapled messes!

Worse, to me, than unstapled papers (and I admit it really irks me- I went to Catholic school, that is just something that is. not. done.) is the emailed papers. Why do students think I want to waste my paper and ink on their drivel? Because the better students make the effort to hand in an ACTUAL paper.

Wow, you've opened up a can of worms, here, TL!

August 24, 2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger Miss Britt said...

I'm stuck on the fact that your husband said you are "pissed off and huffy all the time".

Those are fighting words in my house...

August 24, 2006 10:52 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

I admire your will! Tell Mr. J that kids today are spoiled rotten and have entitlement complexes because people like him would rather do things for them than make them do for themselves. So there!

August 24, 2006 1:45 PM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

Yeah, I don't think it's too much to ask that these students staple their own papers. Seriously. If you brought a stapler to class, then what's next? Maybe you bring a computer complete with every imaginable device slot (that sounds dirty!) and a printer so that they can print out their papers when every other method of output has failed them?

August 24, 2006 3:58 PM  
Blogger Tense Teacher said...

Don't you dare lower your standards; stick to your guns!

August 24, 2006 4:13 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Bring the stapler to class.
Charge $1 per staple.

August 24, 2006 5:25 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

I am of the opinion that the only reason you should bring a stapler to class is if you are having them do an assignment, in class, that they will be turning in at the end of the period AND will take up more than one page. Like when we had lab in statistics and had to print out 20 pages of mathmatical drivel and turn it in before we left. Our instructor provided a stapler. That is the ONLY time you should even toy with the idea of providing one.

Play-doh huh? What do you do with that? *curious*

August 24, 2006 8:10 PM  
Blogger Mamacita said...

Oh, bring the stapler. And while you're at it, bring them whiteout, erasers, #2 pencils, paper, paper clips, tape, hand sanitizer, scissors, nail polish remover, and watches so they'll get to class on time.

After you lay all their materials out, you can then order pizza for them.

While they're eating, you can walk around and ask if anyone needs a backscratch or wants to 'talk' about any problems.

You probably already keep tampons and condoms in your bag of tricks.

Shouldn't all teachers be expected to be suppliers of free stuff for their students?

Feh. I'm with you.

And I guess we're both puffy, pissed off, and bordering on insanity.

Rock on, sister.

August 24, 2006 8:39 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Sue - check out the Play Doh link in my post. I think you'll be mildly entertained!

August 24, 2006 9:23 PM  
Blogger desiree said...

And that is it in a nutshell: Lower your standards. Preserve your sanity. Oh happy day.

August 24, 2006 9:31 PM  
Blogger Fraulein N said...

Lowered expectations?! That's unfair to the people who are making an effort. So, no. You should not provide them with a stapler. It's not like you're asking for something really bizarre, where I could see maybe giving the students a little leeway. It's a stapler, dammit. Despite what your students seem to think, they are not that hard to find. I mean, damn. It's a standard school supply. Are you supposed to provide them with notebooks and pens, too?

August 25, 2006 8:23 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

Oh how fun! I totally missed that the Play-Doh was a link. Looks like fun. Now I want to take your class. Between the interesting subject matter, the Play-Doh and the weirdos...good times.

August 25, 2006 9:21 AM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

HA! You sound like me when I try to vent to my husband. The "pissed off and huffy" remark would have spun me into a Tasmanian Devil fit. I may have even had to answer back with "I might not be so pissed off and huffy all the time if I had students who could find their asses with both hands!"

Do. NOT. bring a stapler.

August 25, 2006 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

No! Do not. Do not. Do NOT lower your expectations or bring a stapler, if for no other reason than your pissed-off huffiness makes such entertaining reading. ;)

August 26, 2006 9:01 AM  
Blogger boojam said...

As a teacher in Kuwait, both of art and EFL, I find your blog hilarious. I am constantly appalled by the lack of commitment and responsibility, not only of school kids, but also of adults, learning English for very specific career purposes, who expect language acquisition to happen by osmosis. Also appalled by the falling standard of English, not only in school but in the media, even, god forbid, the BBC.

August 26, 2006 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Fall said...

Personally, I'm unbelievably pissed off by the fact that I have to take pencils to class for tests. I can understand the responsible student who may have walked out without a pencil, but what about the kids who show up for EVERY SINGLE TEST without a pencil? I mean, come on! These kids have been taking standardized tests since elementary school. Shouldn't college students have figured out by NOW that they're going to need a freakin' No. 2 pencil for every test they take???? And I won't even mention the erasers!

Okay, I lied about the erasers! I may lose the last of my sanity this semester if I have to loan out a single eraser.

Is it too much to wish that we could simply fail them for stupidity?

August 27, 2006 1:57 AM  
Blogger CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Keep it simple: Forget the stapler and tell your students you'll unceremoniously toss away any unstapled papers they submit. When they see their precious papers in your trash can, they'll get the message.

August 27, 2006 8:19 AM  

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