Monday, November 05, 2007

That Time Again

Yep, it's that time again. You know the one I'm talking about. There are about a 5 weeks left in the semester. You're tired and grading constantly. Students are tired and reading and working on papers and projects. They aren't quite at the "I'm having a nervous breakdown in your office" point yet, but you can see it on the horizon. Your colleagues are exhausted and grumpy sitting in too many meetings. All of this leads to the inevitable: one way ticket to The Land of Miscommunication, where all of the denizens either A) stare at each other in confusion; B) continue to re-state (badly) the same idea over and over again, regardless of the respondent's reaction; C) stomp off/mumble obscenities under their breath/leave the room and talk smack about each other. If I could get some more sleep and finish this stack of grading, it would be hilarious. If you're in that mystical, well-rested space, I hope the following examples entertain.

  • In a 45 minute conference last week, I worked through a theory article with a student. In that conference, she used two different examples that she thought exemplified particular points in the theory. I explained, very carefully, why neither would work (not least because the first is an annoying chestnut about multiculturalism that drives me nuts). She tried to defend them, but in the end abandoned them. Last night she sent me a copy of her draft. In it, she uses both examples, and now attributes them to the author of the article.
  • During a committee meeting today, one member would make a statement (e.g,, "When we last talked about this, we decided that cows were, in fact, mammals). Another member would then turn to me and away from the other member, and dismiss that statement (e.g., "Cows might be mammals, but it's not as if we've decided that as a group"). This happened over and over and over again, for 30 minutes.
  • I met with an advisee about today, to discuss her minor. She asked if I had a copy of the 2004 catalog, so that she could look up the requirements. She then showed me how those didn't match the requirements in listed in her file. After 20 minutes of discussion with the department chair and the registrar, I discovered that the advisee is actually in the 2002 catalog, which is, in fact, consistent with the information in her file AND written, quite noticeably, at the top of that file. It should also be noted that this advisee is not a strong student. When I first started working with her, her main interest was horses. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it may be the case that there's a certain intellectual communion happening there. Evidence for this claim is documented throughout her transcript. This, and several warnings from me, however, are not enough to deter her from taking 20 credits in the spring.
  • When I got home this evening, I put together the ingredients for Jamaican jerk pork--crock pot style. After I got it all in the crockpot, I asked Senor Fluff if he thought it was cold enough to leave it out on the counter. "No," he replied, "but we could put it on the back porch." "Forget it," said I. "The rabid squirrels will eat it. Do you think I can fit it in the fridge?" "No." At which point, I proceed to make room for it in the fridge. Senor Fluff expresses surprise: "I thought you wanted to leave it out?"

I could have explained, at this point, that I asked about how cold it was in an attempt to avoid the prospect of arranging the whole refrigerator. I wasn't really bucking for trichinosis for the whole family. But what's the point? Once we've entered The Land of Miscommunication, it's better just to let it go. Don't use your words.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Kate said...

Well, at least I'm not the only person with a student who attributes ideas to sources that didn't come from that source.

Because the teaching load is so high in my program and none of us are tenure-track, we have no service requirements (aside from some stuff at the beginning and end of each year, and we actually get compensated for it). BUT I am still a big old grump right now. Grump grump grump.

The one beacon of hopefulness: one of my weakest students had a conference with me yesterday and I couldn't tell if it went that well. I was getting frustrated because we kept talking past each other, but I think we still resolved at least some issues that will help him in his writing. Late last night he wrote me a kind email thanking me for all my help and telling me he's completely rewriting the draft he's working on (that isn't due until Friday), based off the conversation we had about the revision I gave back to him last week.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 8:42:00 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

Student, coming up to me after las with a D paper in hand: "Isn't it true that Mary Wollstonecraft was a prostitute?"

Me: "????????????"

Student: "But our anthology says so! Why would a published book tell a lie?"

Ah, right. Because there is no difference between being a prostitute and being vilified as a prostitute. And books--published ones especially? Never have lies in them.

Trichinosis rules!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 8:46:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

I love the follow up on your blog, Kate!! I think students underestimate the value of the follow-up email...

I hate to side with your student on this, Ash, but we're Americans, you know. Thus, there isn't really a difference between being a prostitute and being vilified as one.

This kind of thing makes me want to get a ruler and smack knuckles sometimes. Welcome to my inner nun.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 7:57:00 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

Ah, yes. I'd forgotten. For a second, I managed to convince myself that I was Canadian.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 8:22:00 PM  

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