Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Old School: Tammy in Topeka is Tired of T.

I can't resist the chance to put the smackdown on T. who is in my English Composition class this term.

He was home schooled, preciously so, and he works that detail into every discussion. He won't shut up. He comments on everything I say and everything anyone else says. He tells us, "This is the way it is for home schoolers. We're very active and involved."

After someone in class read her opening paragraphs to us, his comment was, "I wouldn't read any more of that. I think that maybe she needs a new topic entirely; Dr. Tammy, what do you think?" When someone in class quietly said "Harsh," he replied: "This is how it is for me. I'm all about telling the truth, and sometimes people don't want to hear it. But that's my way. People either really love me or really hate me." (You can imagine how that was met by his classmates.)

Three times in four classes we've heard how T. doesn't watch TV, and certainly doesn't read the "porn and obscenity" on the Internet. He was taught by his family in the "great books tradition," and he doesn't understand why our class in expository writing can't do the same thing. When asked to purchase the textbook for our class (a writing rhetoric with instructions and assignments about writing short essays), he said, "Can't I find the same stories and poems in one of the anthologies I already have?"

After each of the classes so far T. has stuck around to deconstruct the class with me. He said yesterday, "I think that went pretty well. I could tell that S.'s feelings were hurt, but I think it's better she learns now that her essay isn't good rather than later. I'm sure she'll thank us later."

I'll admit I'm a young professor, but I've never had a student like T. I suppose some of you will say it's good that he's so involved, but this early on he's already sucked all the life out of that classroom, and I don't know how to rein him in so that others can have a voice as well.