Monday, July 30, 2012

Sid from Santa Fe on "Individualized Instruction."

I'm Rick!
Rick just dropped my summer class. Here at the Worst Juco in America, one can take 11 weeks of a 12 week summer class and still take the W.

And Rick took his W this morning.

Now, for the 11 weeks he was with us, he dominated class. He never missed an opportunity to talk over others, so much so that I had to keep him after 3 different classes to tell him to ease up and let others have the chance. His most momentous response to this was: "No way. These students don't care. If they would, they'd talk. I care. I need this class. I want to learn. You should teach the interested ones!"

He also loved to dispute or question assignments, regardless of how innocuous the guidelines might be.

He had a particular fondness for going after me in class for word counts.

"Why 500 words? Will you fail me if I write 499 or 501? What if I do what I want to do and turn in 5000?"

"Well," I'd start, "there are all kinds of reasons for word counts, sometimes it's about the level of detail I want you to use on a thesis, other times it has to do with offering reasonable limits to help you safeguard writing 5000 words when they aren't necessary."

It was constant. The 11 weeks dragged. People would roll their eyes when he started things like: "I don't get why I have to use MLA style. What if I don't care about documenting my sources? That should be my prerogative. Maybe while you're writing research papers I want to write a feature article like the ones in magazines I read." (Oh, don't ask. I was horrified to learn what mags he wanted to emulate.)

"I feel as if you've dampened all the creativity out of this class," he said one day. "You're all about rules, and I'm about language!"

As I was walking to class this morning, Rick was headed the other way.

"Hey, Sid," he said. "I've dropped the class. Got some stuff that's more important to me than finishing up the work I'm late on. Plus, I'm a little pissed that I didn't get individualized instruction and attention."

"Gaw," I said. "Smerghhh, ugggggggh."

"Like it says on the TV commercials. Right? Individualized instruction. Learn at your own pace. You don't follow that. Still, it was fun debating with you."

And then he was gone.

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