Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Smackdown From Dr. ClearlyTooStupidForWords

I am now officially sick of T.

T has so totally been there, done that. T is world-weary and slouchy at her grand old age of 19. She is very cute, with wild curly hair that she cultivates into meticulously casual wildness to make sure that everybody knows she's above caring about her looks even though she uses them constantly to try to get what she wants and wears restrictive, revealing clothing. Sure, that carelessly casual slag look is her own brand of feminism.

T is in my studio class, and believes that because she's taken one class on the topic before, she just has better things to do. Of course, being as it's a studio class, she could work to whatever level she'd like on her own projects and go as far with the material and skills as she'd like. Instead, she prefers to do the bare minimum and then complain about how easy everything is for her. Pushing yourself? Why would one wish to do that? When I push her to do more than the minimum, I'm just "picking at her."

T makes it a point to chat to her friends during other people's studio presentations. Because their work just isn't as good as her work, and she's bored. What could she learn from them? Or from my dumb comments to them? When I tell her to shut it, she rolls her eyes. Yeah, kid, I get it. I. Am. So. Stupid. Gah.

Her work, however, isn't really that good, and she could benefit from engaging with her peers and me in a discussion of how to improve. Oh wait. That was my appraisal, and that appraisal means nothing. After all, I just have a PhD in the field, and as we all know, you don't have to be smart to get one of those. Anybody can do it. It's all just simple process any pinhead who can't make it in real world can do. I also have 21 years of professional experience in the field, my projects have won international design awards, and I have been elected by my colleagues in professional practice to be the national chair for our professional association. What would I possibly know about the real world of our profession that T doesn't? Cha! I flinch with embarrassment at how presumptuous I was to think I might have some insights T hasn’t long ago surpassed, effortlessly.

I am in T's doghouse right now, because I gave her a zero on an assignment after she ignored my instructions. Not once. But twice. I let her off the first time, and kindly reminded her I need the material submitted in a particular way. When it came time to grade, she did not followed my instructions--again. When confronted with her zero, she flew into a tantrum: "You should have reminded me again!" Yes, of course. Not only am I jealous of your copious hair and natural talents, dear little T, but my priorities are messed up. You see, I wasted most of this week working on a research report to finish up a sizable, multi-university grant--a grant that provides a living for several of your colleagues in our program. During that time, I was worried about a progress report to the European Commission, the presentation I have to make in a couple weeks in South Africa, and whether my husband has remembered to give our son, who is at home with a viral infection, his medicine.

Silly things, I realize. But what I really should have been doing was sitting at my desk asking myself what T needs me to do. Because when one is near greatness, one must know one's obligations to it.