Saturday, June 04, 2005

postal scrotum: a Z-related opinion

Jennifer writes:

Hi Kevin,

I just wanted to say, reading your last post, that I don't think you were unduly cruel toward Z at all. I plan to blog all about my stranger students. It's these ones who make things interesting. I don't even think that you talking to her through the mic was inappropriate. And I don't think you should worry about anything you've done and/or written.

Considering the setting of your interactions with Z, there's no reason you shouldn't expect her to be able to handle situations with being in class or being in a raffle-type booming mic-type scenarios. You are at a unversity, afterall, not a home for the Apergers-afflicted, if that's indeed what she has.

I do sometimes roll my eyes or sigh loudly, both when dealing with my students and with my co-workers. Ususally in the case of students it's because I expect better behaviour from them. In dealing with my co-workers, the sighing comes from expecting better from them! Looking at them as just an average Korean, their English is above average, but if I view them as the English teachers that they are, it's not even close to being okay. How can I try to promote proper pronunciation when thay can't use "th" or say a short i without it sounding like a long e?

Z, as a university student, needs to step up to the plate. If her slow reaction time and general cluelessness is going to cause people, in a trust exercise, to fall on their heads, then maybe she needs to take another class? If her inablilty to deal effectively with her classmates or any other people around her hinders her progress, or your ability to teach her, then I'd say these might be her, or her therapists, problems to deal with. Not yours. I think you've done well, by your description, of being sensitive to her needs.

Maybe I sound harsh, and if so, forgive me. However, I am a believer that people need to take responsibility for their own shit. I'd reckon Z is aware of things by now, and perhaps used to people interacting with her the way they surely do.

When I was in university I was a "don" in my 2nd year, and the VP and President in my 3rd and 4th and I got used to dealing with all kinds of characters. Z reminds me a little of "Tammy," a frosh in the year I was a don. She just had no social skills whatsoever, and she was probably lacking a few good years worth of psychoanalysis to boot. I tried, over the years, to integrate her into the social setting and to help her out in dealing with what was expected of her as a student, but in the end, I was not her mother, nor her friend, or her shrink. I refused to take responsibiliy for her wildly inappropriate behaviour in group settings, and in the end, just did the best I could in the scope of my duties toward her, and left the rest to her.

With my students there is a lot of room for having fun while learning, but there are some basic rules. You need to come to class. You need to come with your text and your pencil and your homework completed. You need to respect the other students around you. These are not unreasonable expectations.

Likewise, I don't think it's unreasonable for you to expect Z to be able to cope with you in class, or you with a microphone in the setting you described. Yes, maybe it might have been better for you to move the mic away and talk to her quietly. Maybe it would have made her feel better if you gave her a big comforting hug for not being able to discern the 30's from the 40's. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I think, maybe you did just fine by Z.

Just thought I's give you my 2 cents.


Jenn then wrote in to say:

I swear, Z looks like Tammy's Korean half-sister. Are they part of a world-wide organization for the socially inept where they all dress and look the same?

You've stumbled onto the next Dan Brown novel, Jenn. Here's my fantasy blurb:

If you enjoyed Dr. Robert Langdon's escapades in Angels and Demons...

If you marvelled at Langdon's discoveries in The Da Vinci Code...

Then you won't want to miss the professor's greatest adventure as he faces off against the ultimate secret society in...


Dan Brown pulls out all the stops in this thrilling new adventure that takes us through university campuses, insane asylums, brothels, temples, and Net cafes from Cambridge to Budapest to Kyoto!

Dr. Robert Langdon thought he would be back to an ordinary life as a Harvard professor specializing in symbology. Little did he know that his famous university was a ticking time bomb, the headquarters of a deadly coven that has waited two centuries to make its move!

650 pulse-pounding pages of action, suspense, intrigue, and mind-bending sex with autistic women!

The greatest adventure is the journey within.


"A truly abnormal work. Brown at his brownest."
--Time Magazine

"I liked the chapter about the lady with forked nipples."
--Rolling Stone

"Perhaps Brown's greatest achievement. Smart, sexy fun that finally recognizes the BDSM crowd as a legitimate, book-buying demographic."

"Fantastically paced, and none of the prudery of his two previous secret society novels."
--The Los Angeles Times

"I'll never look at a five-year-old girl the same way again."
--Christian Science Monitor

"A bit like trying to wipe your hemorrhoid-puffed ass with brambles."
--Howard Stern's mini-review

"Autistics expressed outrage at this newest, and most controversial, work by Dan Brown. They then went back to smashing their heads repeatedly against hard vertical surfaces."
--The Onion

Coming to theaters in 2007...

Dan Brown's biggest butt brownie


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