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”?