Thursday, November 06, 2008

Back to the Grind

At the beginning of the semester, in all but my first year writing class, I hand out all the assignment information so that a student who really wanted to could get a start on any of them (except for quizzes or taking exams). I try to be clear and explicit.

There's a biggish assignment due in one of my upper-level classes this Monday. Right around week 7, we talked extensively about this and another biggish assignment due later in the semester, and I recommended that people make a start, since they're likely to need inter-library documents/loans that can take a week or more to get.

Yesterday, one of the students in the class stopped me after class wanting to talk about the assignment, but I was on my way to my other class, so suggested s/he come back later during my office hours. S/he came back later, and said s/he wanted me to explain the assignment. I asked if s/he had any specific questions, if there were things about the assignment that confused him/her. Nothing. So we pulled out our copies of the assignment, reread. I waited. Nothing. S/he stared at me.

Alas, I'm not a mind reader, so I wasn't able to help this student much. I'm sure it was as frustrating for him/her as it was for me. I don't know what s/he wanted, whether it was information, reassurance, an extension. I don't think the student quite knew, either. Frustration!

I'm also frustrated by the people (on either side) who think Obama is somehow going to change everything. Seriously, folks, I think he was the best choice we had this year, and I was happy to vote for him, and very happy he was elected, but he's a politician. And it's in the nature of politicians to (at best) owe other people favors, etc, and (at worst) to be outright corrupt and evil. He's going to owe people, and he's going to do things I'll totally disagree with. And yet, most all of us will get up every morning and muddle through. He's not going to suddenly change the capitalist system because he's deeply invested in capitalism; nor does his election mean we're "over" racism.

More frustration; it's cold and rainy, and I've given up and moved my bike inside to the trainer. It looks all shackled up, and not nearly as inviting as a nice road on a hot day.

When is spring coming?


  1. That's one of my pet peeves, students who show up saying "I don't understand what you want me to do" and don't reference the assignment sheet at all. May spring come quickly!

  2. maybe just going over the assignment sheet and not getting his/her head bit off was helpful in the end?

    it always surprises me when i discover that my young adult kids are still learning how to think. my daughter, especially, is inclined to feel overwhelmed, and has trouble breaking down a big task into small ones -- has trouble asking herself the kinds of questions that will let her grapple with an unfamiliar and complex problem. it's frustrating all around, for sure.

  3. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Not sure about where you are, but don't despair--around here, spring is just a short eight months away.