Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Settling for Good Enough


If you’ve ever spent time inside a college faculty lounge, you know that the number one thing teachers do in there is bitch about their students. We bitch about them texting during class when they should be hanging onto every bit of brilliance we espouse. We bitch about them spending more time on Facebook than on their homework. We bitch about how they don’t realize how lucky they are to have the Internet because when we were in college we had to swim uphill in quicksand to the library and read BOOKS.

Early in my career, I promised myself that if I ever became too embittered it was going to be time for me to find a new job. 

Well, after the batch of papers I just graded, I’m seriously considering updating my résumé. Please allow me this rant:

For my Critical Thinking class, my students were supposed to read articles and identify strong and weak points. (Of course, I provided them with criteria and a rubric and all that good stuff.) One of my students identified a point made by a Kardashian as a strong point. And this wasn’t just any old point either. It was really Kontroversial. Are you ready? One of the Kardashians claimed that it was a good idea to wear socks on an airplane because it can get cold. 

That, my friends, is what I am dealing with. 

On the one hand, I was expecting something a little more meaningful. On the other hand, it is a good idea to bring a pair of socks on a plane because it can get cold. 

Despite my frustration, I don’t think I’m embittered yet. I still do love my students. I have, however, lowered my expectations. My experience reminds me of what Bridget Fonda’s character said about dating in the movie Singles:  


 Janet: Well, when I first moved out here from Tucson, I wanted a guy with…looks, security, caring. Someone with their own place. Someone who said "bless you" or "gesundheit" when I sneezed. Someone who liked the same things as me, but not exactly. And someone who loves me.

Steve: Tall order.

Janet: Yeah, I scaled it down a little.

Steve: What is it now?

Janet: Someone who says "gesundheit," although I prefer "bless you.” It's nicer.

When I first started teaching, I wanted my students to discover their writing potential. I wanted them to relish in language and ideas. I wanted them to push themselves beyond their comfort zone. I wanted them to master punctuation and realize how it not only provides clarity but can add nuance. Now, I would be happy if someone correctly used the apostrophe 75 percent of the time. Maybe even 50 percent.

The apostrophe is my “bless you.”

Have you ever lowered your standards? What’s your “bless you”?

17 comments:

Shelly said...

Oh, this hits a sore spot with me. Like a salmon swimming upstream, looking in vain for a place to spawn, I've searched middle school classrooms for almost three decades now, looking for one who will truly care about grammar. In salmon life, I'm about to die childless.

Mark said...

I don't think I've ever really lowered my standards. Or even had a reason to. I think if I was a teacher though, and someone brought up something a Kardashian said, I'd probably just decide there was no hope for the future generation, and there was no point teaching them.

Jaya J said...

yeah. when i walk into some restaurants, i have to lower the standard for expected service because there is something in it that restaurant that i want to eat so much.

DiscConnected said...

Hmmm....socks to warm my feet on an airplane...

I wonder what other pearls of wisdom those Kardashians have in stock...

Larry

DWei said...

Every time I lower my standards for anything I take a step back and start re-evaluating my life. :P

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

I often think that I can do everything myself. My "bless you" is when I have the kids help or allow others to show their concern. Kinda deep, I know, but that's where I'm at. Apostrophes aren't that confusing, folks. Make an effort. And, of course, you need to wear socks when you fly because eww, who wants to walk through the security with barefeet?!

Play off the Page

the late phoenix said...

facebook has effectively killed off all rational thought in the world...so are you gonna join me today after the facebook hackathon and get in on that facebook IPO?

Skeptical Czarina said...

Oh my! The fact that the Kardashians are now even the subject of school papers absolutely terrifies me...

Shannon said...

I have sixteen people who report to me at work. When I was promoted into this position, I was going to take the department to a whole new level. Now, I just consider it a win if one of my employees doesn't end up crying in my office during the day.

Eh, expectations change. :)

Terra Shield said...

I need to think deep about this one. I don't have one at the moment

James Garcia Jr. said...

Hello, my Captain. I'm just keeping my priorities straight and commenting on your blog. ;) You cracked me up when you left that advice on my blog the other day...
I did read your post to my wife. She enjoys hearing your teacher perspective. You teachers need to stick together, considering all of those deeply committed students that you are judged by.

-Jimmy

Jono said...

You have my sympathy, you idealistic young thing! Not one to keep up on the latest from Hollywood, I believed the Kardashians were Star Trek aliens that actually existed. I wasn't too far off as it turns out. Among my peers, "did you get any on yourself?" is more common than "bless you."

Theresa Milstein said...

My goal is to have at least one card at the end of the year read, "You're the best teacher." I have many that say, "Your the best teacher," no matter how often I teach, remind, and even say, "At the end of the year, please don't forget the apostrophe in my card."

At least they think I'm a good teacher even if the lack of apostrophe says otherwise.

Mariana said...

This looks like a really cool book.. interesting at least
Please check out my blog too at Miss Tangerine :)

Janet Johnson said...

I really, really love your posts. :) Bless you, indeed. lol

Mine (as a French teacher) was simply that they be willing to try to say French words. Out loud. Even if they butchered the language.

Shelley Sly said...

You're a strong person to work the job that you do. :) I used to be a reading intervention teacher for fifth graders who read at about a first grade level. Just getting them to sit and concentrate on the words was a good day for me, never mind actually being able to catch them up to their target reading level. *Sigh*

Shutterbug said...

I do lower my standards for people that are just learning the English language. It isn't easy.