So, continuing a train of thought from my last post: Stupid Question Boy.
I talked with him earlier this week when I got out of my first class early and could pounce on him before class. I wanted to be private about it, and not draw attention to him or the fact that I was calling him out. After tedious tangents and interruptions all term, I felt it was time to ask for a bit of peace and quiet for the last week or so. Hopefully, everything’s going to work out. He seemed amenable to my feelings, though a bit, erm, muddled in his understanding of how courtesy towards one’s peers and a lecture class work. He said, “I don’t want to be the moron in the back of the class that never talks” (I’ll leave you to figure out what was racing through my mind when he said that). In addition to that, some other gems from the past weeks of class:
Prof: “What do you want me to call you?” SQB: “I go by ‘Chris’ and put ‘Christopher’ on my papers.” Prof: “But what do you want me to call you?” SQB: “‘Jesus!'”
After a much rambling about nothing in particular during discussion of Dante. Prof: “Did you read The Inferno?!”
With a date, including B.C. and c., on the board. SQB: “So, what is that? Like, I know B.C., but what’s the ‘c.’? And why are they going backwards?” All of us in the front row: “It’s ‘circa!'” SQB: “But why is it backwards?” Prof: “It’s B.C., so the dates go from bigger to smaller…”
Yes, this is the kind of stuff I deal with in history class on a daily basis. Some people don’t understand B.C., I know, but for a person who constantly interrupts to talk about how often he’s read Aristotle, (you know, a guy from the B.C. era?) it’s a bit much. Interrupting in class, not just of me but of other students and especially the professor, is one of my pet peeves.
I just wish I could also tell my instructor from my lit class that interrupting others is rude, too. Before I’ve made my point, she’ll interrupt to “correct” and not even listen to what I’m saying. She’s also insisted something rooted in the text is wrong. In The Miller’s Tale, the carpenter, John, insists that the Flood is “Nowel’s Flood.” I pointed this out, saying that it goes towards his characterization as a foolish man. She hadn’t picked up on this before and said something along the lines of “well, here’s an instance of different manuscripts saying different things.” Another former classmate in my Chaucer class backed me up, but she never admitted to being wrong. The instructor never said anything like, “Oh, I never noticed that” or “Oh, I understand what you’re saying.” She also spelled “Absolon” (which is the way I’ve seen it written in every text) as “Absolom” the entire period and encouraged us to say “Asparagus” instead of the proper “Averagus.” GAH!
It reminds me of what I will make a point of never doing as a professor or teacher or lecturer in the future.
I wrote a letter writing manifesto earlier, and all this class insanity brings me to…
My Future Teaching Manifesto:
- I will instruct my students to raise their hands before speaking to avoid interruption during the class.
- I will acknowledge and look into anyone’s observation(s) and feeling(s) about a text.
- I will refer to the text as my main source and defer to that at all times.
- I will spell things correctly.
- I will be a champion for peer editing and multiple drafts.
- I will make outlines before lecture/class with important dates, characters, etc. so I don’t misinform students.
- I will be as accessible via office hours and e-mail as possible.
- I will get exams and essays back as quickly as possible, within a week.
- I will evaluate students on an individual basis instead of on work in a group.
- I will not tolerate texting or use of a mobile phone.
- I will get to know students on a first name basis, and try to understand them as individuals.
- I will encourage actively using the text and finding textual evidence to support any conclusions in papers and in class.
I think this all comes from the respect I have for a text as a text and for those who analyze and know what they’re doing. Literature is so amazing, and to hear it not appreciated, its characters debased, and things I’ve learned from professors who have been in the field longer than I’ve been alive burns me to the very core.
I hope that ends the ranting I’ve been doing primarily in my head for the past 24 hours because of the evaluation of the group website for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, for which I apparently used too many sources and went too in depth in my textual analysis for the poetics section. I will endeavor to make the things that irk me here into better conduct later, and to fine tune how I think a class should be: no interruptions and yet conducive to learning and rooted in the text.
This coming week is the end of A term, and then I go into a guided reading for medieval England and a class on Shakespeare after 1603. The time to move back to Oklahoma is rapidly drawing closer, as is my deadline to get my butt to the UK. I’ll keep you posted on how A term ends, how B term begins, and what camera I end up choosing (more on that later).
For now, I will *facepalm* in the privacy of my own apartment and wait out the rest of term. I think all will turn out well, and after next Wednesday, I won’t have to deal with either SQB or this lit instructor again. I will think happy thoughts and be in a better, more amicable mood!