As if the whole world wasn’t already laid at your feet or why Knowing is Half the Battle
I feel weird writing such a mean-spirited post so close to graduation season. This is the first year I won’t be accompanying my kids as they receive their honors and certificates at the UP Film Center. I can’t say it feels like the routine’s been interrupted though because I wasn’t teaching long enough for it to become a routine. Four years seems long until you zip right past it. And then there are incidents like last night’s bit of ridiculousness, which came in courtesy of the fact that–OH RIGHT! I used to be a teacher.
Emphasis on “used to be”. Not sure I want to head back to a cushy full-time faculty job anytime soon, especially considering what’s recently been done to the Faculty Lounge at the UP College of Arts and Letters.
I don’t know if we can even consider it a cupcake cafe when, despite putting its guests through the trauma of being infantilized by the hospital greens and pastel dollhouse furniture, it still foregoes putting its pastry on pedestals in favor of things like this:
Back to the story I started with: I did not have a particularly easy time with College. I think I may have mentioned it in some entries I had written when I was actually in College (and since the archives on this blog date back to 2004, they should be here somewhere). I did not understand what many of the work assigned had to do with my formation as a fully-realized being, but I also knew that my College education did not owe me that. And…knowing is half the battle.
Seriously though, it’s about what you know at the end of the, uh, battle, and what the battle in turn does to your head. I bring this up because last night’s bit of ridiculousness involved a former student doing the online equivalent of dumping an assload of work on my desk then walking away without so much as a Post-it telling me what to expect from said assload of work, let alone an apology for being a little over a year past the deadline. And I no longer even use the desk!
It’s easy to take the blame in this case and ask, “How are we molding these minds? What made [name withheld] even think that it’s okay to just stick her shit in my business without any decent prior warning, aside from the email equivalent of “YO BBGRL WT M I S’POSD TO DO @G@1N?!”–which came in almost a month before?” It’s easy to play the adult card here and be all “Ooh shhhhooot me! I should know better because I’m SO OLD!” As teachers, we spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME treating 20-year-olds like they’re in preschool and not as if they’re in the same baby deer stage of becoming some other iteration of the fully-grown (yet not fully-formed) human being we’re already fumbling through the world as.
And that’s what gave me a hard time in College. I was not a fucking child, but somehow I got to act like one. Blame the fucking adults every chance I got. Let them take the opportunity to “be the bigger person”. What a fine, fine loophole to go with my gaping asshole self. I could just chalk it up to youth, after all.
So the thing is, this–all of this–is behavior I actually recognize, mostly because it’s my fucking shadow. Having felt all the things relayed to me when said student-who-dumped-shit-on-my-proverbial-desk speaks of this ugly truth about how we’re educated and what we seem to think tertiary education is for. This is especially true for anyone who grew up with a measure of privilege. With the certainty that they’d get into the school of their choice–usually private and prestigious–because what other schools are there? Heck, after High School, what other options are there for us middle class dipshits besides going to College?
My failure to wrap my head around all of this–because of my own immaturity, because I needed distance to cast better light on the problem–has everything to do with why I stopped teaching. And now this: now I have a former student apologizing for her rude attempt at milking me for grades by saying it was because she didn’t have the necessary emoticons at her disposal to convey how she actually wanted to approach her multiplying problems, which is really just, oh, honey…honey.
What the fuck, honey?
This has nothing to do with emoticons because first of all, if you can’t use language to (diplomatically) ask for what you want, then maybe you missed the whole point of the triathlon that was your College Education. Two, this has nothing to do with emoticons because rarely is a University Education about how you feel. In fact, fuck how you feel, we’re having none of that shit. Let’s get a look at what’s in your head. Take it apart. Put it into words. Write it down. Have it on my desk by the end of the semester.
Or don’t! I’m not teaching anymore! Let me get used to another source of stress and exhaustion!