Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm too smart for this class: A Tragicomedy in Three Acts. From TA Trixie From Tulsa.

Act One

Scene: [TA Trixie hands back student papers at the end of section; begins to wipe blackboard; reminds self to fill coffee cup with bourbon instead of coffee for next class.]

[Normal students exit stage left.]

Hateful Harold: TA Trixie, I have a question about the B+ you gave me on the paper.

TA Trixie: Sure Harold, no problem.

HH: You said here that I had to cite where I got [incredibly obscure factoid of doubtful veracity on British military culture of the 18th century].

TT: That's right Harold, in a history class you have to prove that the things you say are true are, in fact, true. Especially when they don't come out of the text book and have little to no relevance to your paper.

HH: But TA Trixie, I don't have a source.

TT: Well, where'd you learn it from? Have a favorite museum or book you could say it's probably from?

HH [scornfully]: I just know [obscure factoids of doubtful veracity]. I've always known [factoids].

[Students from the next class begin to file in. TA Trixie begins to exit stage left.]

TT: That's fine, Harold, but you're not a source, and you need to cite something. We should let these other people get on with class.

[Hateful Harold pursues TA Trixie down the hallway]

HH: But TA Trixie, you also wrote on page three of my well crafted and finely argued paper that I had some logical flaws.

[TA Trixie tries not to actually run away; wonders if officemates have found hidden flask yet].

TT: Wow, you really read every single thing I wrote on your paper in about two seconds flat, but I can explain it to you better if you come to my office hours. Or, if those don't work, you can email me, and we can work something else, but I've got to get to [another increadibly painful section of the same course].

HH: But TA Trixie, what did you mean when you said I didn't explain why I found [incredibly unreliable source] believable?

TT: Well, Harold, you need to explain why you believe that source.

HH: But it's believable.

TT: Why is it believable?

HH: Because I believe it.

TT: Oh look, we've walked all the way to the next section. I'll see you in office hours, Harold.

[TA Trixie, exit stage left. Hateful Harold, exit stage right].

Act Two

Scene: [Nice Nancy, a TA in the same class and fellow sufferer, begins to wipe down the blackboard at the end of section; thinks about puppies and daffodils and other nice things].

[Normal students exit stage left].

Hateful Harold: Nice Nancy, I have some questions about a paper.

Nice Nancy: Sure Harold, how can I help? Do you want to talk about a draft of next week's paper?

HH: No, I want to talk about the paper I got back last week.

NN: That's the paper that TA Trixie graded, right? You know that the TA who teaches the rotation you write the paper for is the one who grades it, right?

HH: Yeah, but TA Trixie doesn't understand the argument I made, because I'm too smart for this class. I talked to my adviser, Professor McSexist, and he agrees with me.

NN: I'm sorry to hear that, but you'll have to talk to TA Trixie or Prof. Smackdown about your grade.

HH: But Prof. Smackdown just doesn't understand me. I went to talk to her about this at the beginning of the term, and I told her that I had done research on [very small time period not actually covered in this class].

NN: Oh, when was this? Did you work as someone's research assisstant?

HH: No, I did a presentation for my kindergarten class [actual quote].

NN: . . . I have to get to my next class. See you on Friday, Harold.

[Nice Nancy, exit stage left].

Act Three

Scene: [TA Trixie enters the dreaded section; sets down books; arranges notes. Normal students chat quietly to one another until TA Trixie clears throat and begins section]

[Except for Hateful Harold, who keeps talking to obviously annoyed neighbor as if TA Trixie is not there].

TA Trixie: Harold, we're having class, and you're welcome to join us. Now, who can identify the argument being made by [boring dead white man in textbook].

[Hateful Harold glares hatefully, but is otherwise silent]

[TA Trixie holds forth; educates; enlightens; improves moral character of attentive students].

Ned Normal: TA Trixie, can you explain [difficult point about 19th century economics]?

TT: Sure Ned, it works like [Marxist interpretation], and also [relevent connection to current economic crisis].

HH: [whispers something loud but indistinct to annoyed neighbor while TA Trixie is still speaking]

TT: Harold, do you have something you'd like to contribute to discussion?

HH: That's not how it works.

TT: Excuse me?

HH [raises voice]: You're not telling it right, that's not how history works.

TT: Well, Harold, that is how it works. Let's all look on page four million six of the textbook, which you all read for today, which shows in a nice flowchart that this is in fact how it works. Do you have a source in the textbook you think says otherwise?

HH [interrupting TA Trixie, to annoyed neighbor]: She doesn't know what she's talking about.

TT: Harold, I teach college students, not kindergartners. If you're going to act like a child, you can go have a time out in the hallway like a child until you're ready to come back and talk with the big kids.

HH: Prof. Smackdown wouldn't let you do that.

TT: No? Go ask her yourself. She's in her office right now. Meanwhile, we have some history to learn. Class, what is [other dead white guy in textbook] arguing, and how does it challenge [other dead white guy]?

[Hateful Harold, exit stage left as huffily as possible while normal students continue with class].

Scene: [Prof Smackdown's office; Prof Smackdown reads reviews of own book by lesser scholars; congratulates self on awesomeness; pities lesser scholars; congratulates self on awesomeness].

[Hateful Harold enters without knocking]

Hateful Harold: Prof Smackdown, TA Trixie just kicked me out of section.

Prof. Smackdown: Why don't you try that again?

HH: What?

PS: Go out, knock on the door, and wait to be let in like a normal person.

[Hateful Harold sits down across from Prof Smackdown].

HH: I don't think you heard me. TA Trixie just kicked me out of class.

PS: What happened?

HH: She was telling the class wrong about the chapter, and--

PS: And what was your response? [Pulls down copy of the course textbook; congratulates self on writing awesome textbook for the course.]

HH: She was getting all the history wrong, she wasn't telling it the way it happened.

PS [hands textbook to Hateful Harold]: Did you point out parts of the reading with your different interpretation?

HH: Well no, the chapter's all wrong too--

PS: So what did she do?

HH: She told me to get out of class because I disagreed with her! She's so mean, and she doesn't understand my papers, and she graded them wrong and gave me a B+ --

PS: Yes, I heard

HH: She doesn't understand my arguments because it's too complex for her, and I'm just too smart for this class--

PS: Yes, you've said. What, exactly, are you basing this on?

HH: I've just always known [obscure factoids of doubtful veracity]. The placement test for the course was wrong, I put all the right answers in and it told me I had to take the class anyway. I think I should be able to pass out of the class, because TA Trixie is persecuting me for being smarter than her.

PS: Get out.

HH: I know, can you believe that?

PS: No, I meant get out of my office. And don't go back to section until you can have a reasonable discussion based on facts.

HH: I'll tell Professor McSexist about this!

PS: Unfortunately, Dr. McSexist isn't teaching this class and can't do a damn thing about it. Now get out of my office.

[Hateful Harold, exit stage right].