Monday, January 12, 2009

Pita the Part-Time Student Discovers The Real Damage of the Snowflake-Friendly Popular Instructor.

I've been taking a foreign language at the local community college for a couple of years. When I started, there was a new teacher who had only one class per semester, and a much older teacher who taught two or three classes. Somewhere around what would have been my fourth semester (I took some time off), the assignment of classes changed, and this new teacher has all but taken over the whole damn department. Why? She's upbeat and personable and young and fresh and, above all, popular.

She probably gets fabulous reviews from students. Why shouldn't she? She expects nothing of them. This a class that focuses on conversation, and she apologizes every time she has to explain a point of grammar. What are we - five years old and reluctant to eat our vegetables? She has to candy-coat everything for us? Most of us are adults taking the class for "personal educational development," which means we're highly motivated. We don't have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into learning grammar. If we didn't care about speaking this language *well* and only wanted to be able to get across simple ideas, we wouldn't have to take the class. We could just grunt and point.

What really torqued my tail was that I took her class for a letter grade; who knows, maybe some day I'll want to get into a class elsewhere and I'll need it. This instructor got it into her head that I was taking it as a credit-only course (despite evidence to the contrary from the registrar), but promised to correct my transcript. It took eight months of keeping after her and finally a complaint to the department head to get a grade entered. When she finally took care of it, she told me, "You got an A, of course. Everyone did."

Huh? Everyone got an A, including the people who were absent every other week? And the full time student who sat in the back, doing who-knows-what on his laptop for the entire class, and only managed to cough out a couple of words of the language when he was asked a direct question? He got an A, too? Gee, if I'd known that, I wouldn't have spent eight months trying to get this charming idiot to enter a grade for me. I didn't realize it was absolutely worthless.

But, hey, she's cute and energetic and the snowflakes adore her because she makes learning fun! I'm starting class again next week with a different adjunct.