Saturday, March 29, 2008

Where Someone Knows the RYS Lessons, But Hasn't Learned to Put Them In Play Yet.

I've been kicking myself for days now. Last week a student came to my office to give an oral report on dead languages. After an extremely poor performance that didn't even meet the minimum requirements of the assignment (and which he blamed on a bad case of dyslexia that he had conveniently failed to document with my university's disability accommodation office), he had the absolute gall to ask, "What was this assignment supposed to accomplish?"

It was abundantly clear that the little dickweed wasn't the least bit interested in my pedagogical approach and only wanted to register a passive-aggressive complaint to the effect that I had wasted his extraordinarily valuable time with some pea-brained requirement that he couldn't be bothered to do a half-assed job on.

I guess I haven't been paying close enough attention to this website for the last few years. If I had been, I would have told him that I didn't plan to explain myself to him until he got his own PhD and became a department chairman and that, in the meanwhile, he was free to withdraw from the class if he disagreed with my approach to the subject. But noooooooo. What did I do? I patiently smiled and told him all about how I got the idea for the assignment and why I thought it was beneficial. I even apologized for being somewhat old-fashioned.

He must have smelled blood, because he then took out his mid-term exam from earlier in the semester and asked me to explain why he had received such a low score on one of his answers. How much of a douchebag am I? Well, let me tell you. I asked him to explain why he thought he deserved a better score. Worse still, I patiently listened to his explanation. Then I earnestly re-read his answer. Seeing it again reminded me exactly why he had earned a low score--the answer was utterly incoherent. I suppose that it COULD have been construed to mean what he said he intended, but it was so poorly written that it also could have been construed to mean virtually anything. Instead of simply coming out and telling him that he was functionally illiterate, I circumlocuted my pathetic ass around a series of euphemisms in order to spare his delicate, sensitive widdle feelings. You see, he fancies himself as a WRITER. And given the muddle-headed nonsense that his creative writing instructors have probably swaddled him in for the last four years, he probably thinks that he's a GREAT writer to boot. "Well," he said, after I had obviously bent over backwards to avoid calling him a moron, "I suppose I just have a looser approach to language than you do."

THAT, dear readers, was a not-so-subtle jab at my entirely unreasonable insistence that college-age students understand and consistently use proper grammar. I could go on. He continued to challenge me, and I continued to play Mr. Nice Guy and explain myself to the little punk who can't even write a decent sentence. I was making myself sick with every word, but I couldn't stop. I guess I just don't have the nerve to handle these incidents in the way I know I should, the way that some of you have tried to teach me.