Monday, June 29, 2009

What Everyone Missed About Madison from Monona. The Bitchy Bear Visits to Wipe Away the Stink of Confusion.

Ok, I'll be honest: I'm too dumb to understand Madison's post. I don't know what she means by "taking it personally" when students do stupid ass crap. I'm pretty sure that I don't take a lot of stupid crap personally. I don't care if they call me fat on my evaluations. I don't care if they say things like "this proffie is mean and makes us turn in stuff on time and makes us look at books." I used to work in a job where I got death threats.

But what do I take personally is when people add to my already redonkulous workload, and a whole bunch of their stupid crap adds to my workload. Having to sort through endless emails begging for more time? Adds work. Having to sit through dramatic tantrums in my office because the little prince got a B? Yep, adds work. Having to explain in painful detail that missing six classes out of ten is not "only missing a few classes" and can affect their grades? Yup, time. Filling out reports for plagiarism, listening their whining and excuse-making. Check, it adds work.

It's my job, and I do all of the above, as patiently as I can, but dammit I also need to get tenure, and for those of us at research universities, the research expectations seem pretty damn daunting to me. So every minute I spend listening to Chynina or Mellissande (with an accent on the e) or Thor or Netalya-Nell or blither about her sad life and why she needs to gum up my grading schedule is a minute I am not working on my research, which means it's a minute I'm going to have to spend at night and on weekends on the research, because there is little flexibility on the numbers at tenure time. Eventually all those minutes accommodating their stupid crap erases any possibility that I might have of ever getting a weekend or a night free, leaving me to spend my stolen moments writing bitter screeds here rather than actually having a life.

So yeah, that gets on my nerves. When it's one student, eh, whatever. When it's half of the class...shit it makes me want to set them on fire. It's my job and I do it, still pisses me off that I'm raising somebody's kid, which is what I am doing when I set limits and try to teach them that adults don't have bootyhootyhoo crying jags in front of other adults over anything that doesn't involve the words "cancer" or 'drive-by shooting" or "car crash."

But what really sent me into the land of confusion is Madison's claim that she is teaching them proper citation. Smokin' Jesus and his little sweet pickles. Are you really, Madison? Everybody stop being mean to Madison so she'll tell me how she teaches proper citation. Because I try like hell to teach them proper citation and this is, this is by far the most frustrating thing in my already highly frustrated world. I'm not even talking about the difficult stuff like when you use quotations and when you use in-line citation, or when you need to cite versus when you can simply state a widely accepted conclusion (like price affects demand). I'm just talking about them making a reference list that doesn't make me want to jab out my own eyes. What is it about citations? Can somebody explain this to me? Because my students act like citations are...God, I don't know...arcane knowledge. I mean, there's Kate Turabian, who has spent her entire life working out how to do this, and there's this small manual, and there's even an online manual, and there is reference management software (our university uses RefWorks, which is free.) Why is proper citation the hardest thing EVER? Is this my imagination? When I was in English for Donkeys 100 years ago, our TA gave us Turabian and an assignment, and we handed it in. She wouldn't accept it until it was perfect. She just kept handing it back to us. I try to do the same thing in my classes and it's FRACKING ENDLESS.

Back in the day, I slopped through the first assignment, got it shoved back at me, and figured out the woman was serious and did the work the second time. My students? It's like I've invented perpetual motion: they hand in slop, I tell them it's incorrect and that they need to go back, look at the guide, and figure out what's wrong. I then sit through a shitstorm of whining that makes the hot air associated with Hurricane Rita look inconsequential, they hand it in again, having changing fonts and nothing else, and I hand it back, and we do the entire dance again and again and again until I just give in. The part that really kills me: in later classes they will say to my colleagues "I don't know how to cite properly, nobody showed me." It's enough to make me want to stay in bed for the rest of my life.