Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wombat gets some backup

I have a new favorite student.  There's a middle aged guy, burned out, braids his beard into something that looks like a pig's tail (not pigtails - literally like a pig's tail - tiny and dirty and twirly and without any clear purpose).  He shuffles in late every day - eyes glued to phone - his phone rings repeatedly - I've asked him to turn it off - he seems to actually try - his classmates have asked him - one looked like they'd throw it out the window.  The phone still rings.  He texts constantly - or at least the whole time he's in class.  Not only does he have the gall to rudely ask questions in a way that indicates I've not bothered to explain something, despite being 20 minutes late - he frequently asks questions about things I've said since he bothered to join us.  Sometimes I'll re-explain something because I assume others would benefit anyway so why not?  And then he'll say "Well see you should say that - just writing down [what is on the board now] instead of first telling us [what was just on the board and had to be erased so I could write what is on the board now] isn't really teaching" - the class is going nuts.  I've tried real hard to get him to shut the fuck up - but I'm failing.

He sits in the front row next to the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.  She's mesmerizing - she's stunning - she has never said a word. 

Today he made a "you're a useless professor" gesture at me, and leaned over to ask the Goddess a question.  And this is when she became my favorite student EVER.

She never took her eyes off me.  She put up a palm in his direction.  She sat calmly and quietly, but clearly, said:
This is how it's going to be.  If you ask me a question and I can help you I will.  But if you ask me something the professor just said, I can't help you.  Nobody can help you, except for you. And if you want to help you this is how you're going to do it.  You're going to stop coming in whenever you damn well please and you're going to stop shuffling along with your face in that phone looking like a damn fool.  You're going to listen and take notes and then if you're still confused you can at least ask a question that has value instead of just starting again at the beginning every day like someone stole something from you.  The only one stealing from your education is you.  Now do you still want to ask me a question or do you think it would be better to turn yourself around and be looking back at the lesson the professor is trying to teach you, so that you, and I, and everyone else in this room can get back to what we paid for:  The professor's lesson?

-- Wombat of the Copier



12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I have trouble believing it myself. But if it's not true, it ought to be.

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  2. Wow! This is a play in three acts. Love it.

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  3. The Goddess should be a recurring character... or invited here!

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  4. Best best best. Did the other students cheer? What did Mr. Pig's Beard do?

    (BTW: " literally like a pig's tail - tiny and dirty and twirly and without any clear purpose": brilliant.)

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  5. Brava! (to the student, and, yes, to the pig's tail description/analogy -- brilliant on both levels).

    Is the student also of non-traditional age, or does she just have the bravery of beauty?

    I've got one class with several students who leave class at least once per meeting. Either they've got very small bladders, or very active phones; I suspect the latter. I generally tell students they need to police themselves, and I believe that's the best approach, but I may need to say something (or perhaps you could clone the Goddess and send over a copy. I asked about age because, sadly, one of the students who's inclined to wander in and out is also middle aged -- female -- which of course doesn't help on the level of modeling good behavior to the young 'uns).

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  6. She's real - and she's spectacular.

    I was floored - she's traditional! She might not be straight out of HS, but she is well under 25.

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  7. Lovely!!

    Last Fall I had a repeat customer that was a pain in the ass. In this particular section was an even bigger pain in the ass.
    New pain in the ass, "This is dumb...blah, blah, whine, whine" (I can't remember what was exactly said by them).
    Old pain in the ass, "Hey I am not the biggest jerk in class now."

    It was hard not to laugh or smile and remain neutral. New pain in the ass was less of pain after that...

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  8. That's great! I too have, on rare occasion, had the student who was a pain in the ass, but realized it and endeared himself to me later.

    Oh - and yes - the crowd went wild. He's in the front and semi-oblivious so most of them bit their lip and silently laughed with very wide eyes. A few of them laughed out loud - and the only other one in my age group resurrected an "oh snap!"

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  9. I always enjoy your article, Academic Water Cooler. You have a gift for discussing such inspirational topics in truthful yet amusing ways.
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  11. This. This is why I don't do this anymore.

    And, I realize that I'm late. Will this be on the exam or should I braid a crib-sheet into my beard?

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