Friday, October 2, 2009

Step one: kill the parents

I watched "Star Wars: A New Hope" with the kids last night. Like so many good adventures that kids are into, the first step is to off the parents or guardians (it is of course Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru who must fall prey to the storm troopers in order for late adolescent Luke to follow his destiny). Virtually every book E reads (she's big into fantasy-adventure books) and many of O's involve the tragic end of the 'rents. It makes me more than a little uncomfortable when we read or discuss these together. So asked E the other day what she thought of this, if she had noticed the trend... Yes, I was secretly hoping she would tell me that it was okay and I'm so cool and adventure-friendly that I absolutely must accompany her as she retrieves the lost amulet from some ancient land or whatever. But she didn't. She said, "of course they have to die, parents don't let you do cool stuff."

Not you again!

As I was headed from one side of campus to the other yesterday, I passed a student I'd had in class several years ago. My first thought was "jeez, is he STILL here?"

You see, he had not been a particularly pleasant student to have. He had something to say about everything -- and his not having done the reading, his comments not being connected to the time or topic we were talking about, did not slow him down in the least. My lecturing did not slow him down either. He would raise his hand over and over again, but if not recognized within ten seconds, he would jump in and just start talking. I fell into the habit of lecturing with my hand up (in a "talk to the hand" sort of way) in order to let him know that I saw him but that I was not giving up the floor.

As you can imagine, the other students came to despise him. They were wonderful about it though, they learned to call him out for not having read (I'm so proud!) asking where he saw that (silly)idea in the reading and showing him where in the reading there was evidence that totally contradicted the idiotic thing he had just said. Anyway, we all muddled through and I heard tales of him going on to torture my colleagues in a similar manner and then I went on sabbatical and stories about him faded... but there he was yesterday. And I successfully dodged him. Whew.

But later it occurred to me that it doesn't really matter. I can avoid him on campus and hope he doesn't show up in any more of my classes, but there will be others. He is a type... and just like I have the sardonic student, the charming smart student who doesn't do work up to their potential, the jesus-loving student who wants to convert me, the diligent but shy student almost every term, the student with no sense of humor, etc., etc., I will have this student -- the one who talks too much but has nothing to say and is completely socially clueless again. The super annoying student from my class last fall, the one who I thought for sure would have flunked out by now, even showed up in my on-line class this term and has already asked for an extension. When I saw him on the class list, I wished him gone, but it's same deal. If it not him, there would be someone else to fill this slot. There must be one student in every class who begs for extensions and never actually does the work. Sigh. Remind me again that I am supposed to see each of my students as a unique and beautiful snowflake...