Friday, January 26, 2007

Why show-and-tell is no longer optional

I am clearly tired of teaching. I have done it for 9 years now. I usually enjoy it, with the occasional desire to dope slap a student here and there.

That is, until this term, when the "occasional desire" seems to overtake me every minute... or at least every time I have to interact with my students.

I have only one class (2 sections) right now. It's pretty much a simple, easy class for them. All they have to do is:
show up
do their research
present their research
do their final (following instructions, turning it in, all that jazz)

Should they manage to complete these pretty damned simple tasks, they will pass. They are first year medical students and thus in my opinion should not require much babysitting.

I am so so terribly wrong about this, apparently. Somehow, this term, I have the whiniest group of students imaginable.

First, not one single class has passed this term without at least one email from a student explaining that they will not be in class the next day. For whatever reason-- and some are legit, like the woman whose grandmother just died, though they must be a bunch of young'uns to still have grandmothers to die-- this particular group of students has a lot going on, and many of them see it as reason not to attend my class. I find it annoying.

Second, and this is a real doozie, there is one student who I am ready to slap silly. As I said, the class is basically a research class where students collect info and present it to the group. Nothing major, just 15 people around a table, presentations are very informal and take perhaps as much as 5 minutes. The students are responsible for jumping in when the time is right, I try not to direct too much, and the students are responsible for how they present the information. Oh, and they also get to choose what they research and they can work alone or in small groups, so really they aren't on the spot for all that much.

So this one student, she says she can't do it. Research, yes, but she cannot present information to her class when she is "required" to do so. Like she has some panic disorder that only kicks in when something is required of her-- since she insists that she can speak well in one-on-one situations and in groups if she feels "passionate" about what she is speaking about.

What the fuck? You can only speak in a group if you feel passionate about what you are saying and if no one is requiring you to do it? Are you kidding me?

I would love to say to her "do you feel passionate about passing your fucking classes?"

I would love to say to her "stop being such a fucking prima donna, you whiny little bitch"

I would love to say to her "sometimes grown ups have to do things when they are told to, not just when they want to. Time to grow up"

I would love to say to her "I am so sorry that you were raised and apparently educated by people who never taught you that sometimes you have to do what other people tell you and when they tell you. That you have to meet other people's expectations. That you can't always do just what you want when you want.These moments are often called deadlines, and they are a reality of adulthood."

I would love to say to her "stop whining or I will fail you"

And I would love to talk to her parents, to give them an ear full about never having taught her this unpleasant little life lesson.

Which brings me to show and tell. My kid never wants to bring anything for show and tell. Never. I asked her why, and she says that she does not like to talk in front of the class.

Well, not on my watch, baby. You are not going to grow up thinking that this sort of spoiled brat behaviour is acceptable. You are almost 4 and a half, it is time for some cold hard reality, my friend, and I see it as my job to deliver it to you. I may adore you, but I see it as my damned job to make sure you are a functional human being, and it is not too soon to start as far as I am concerned.

Suffice it to say, life has been a bit tougher for my kid this week. Her father and I have told her, in no uncertain terms, that we expect her to toe the line at preschool. Stop refusing to perform, stop telling the teachers that she doesn't want to answer questions. Next week, my kid is doing show and tell, dammit, if I have anything to say about it. Show and tell is no longer optional.

It's never too early to learn that the world is a hard, hard place.


Blogger zilla said...

Who wants a doctor who says "I can't" because she doesn't feel empassioned? What happens to this child when she's called to her first post-mortum?


As for show and tell, I feel for your daughter. We had to practice roll call at home with our shy child before he would answer the kindergarten teacher when his name was called. It helped tremendously.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So your students have already been through college, right? i don't see how this one your talking about made it. You should say these things to her (maybe sans profanity)!

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when I first went on the air. I had way too much training time, and I drove myself into a frezy of fear! But I kept saying "I need this job, I NEED this job!" and I did it. After the first time, its easy.

6:49 PM  

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