Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mustang Sally

A few weeks ago, a new student came to YB. Let's call her Mustang Sally. I had been warned by the center director that she might be "a bit LD" in math. This turned out to be an understatement: her low ability put that of my other student to shame. In addition to her learning disability, however, Mustang Sally revealed herself to be a princess, with all that that entails: she was a lazy, smartass bitch with a sense of entitlement, and she now enters the hall of shame as the first student to have made me truly angry.

I once tried talking with her about her future. That was a mistake. Sally cares nothing for her future. That day, she actually had trouble remembering, five minutes into our conversation, why I was talking to her about the future. Her answers varied in tone from sullen to guarded to overtly disrespectful. Her forgetfulness, which plagues her during regular tutoring sessions, may be in part the result of her relatively dim intellect, but I suspect that it's also an act: a little bit of passive-aggressiveness to keep the world, by which I really mean teachers and other authority figures, at bay. Reality can't be allowed to intrude, and those pesky teachers ask such annoying questions about the connection between current actions and future consequences. It's better just to be a forgetful, flighty lotus-eater, blithely flitting from pleasant thought to pleasant thought while showing the world a world-avoiding gaze. Sally's very good at that, actually: she keeps her tone neutral and rarely shows any expression at all.

Saddening and maddening. Some students seem congenitally incapable of thinking further than their nose; they care nothing about current events or about anything that isn't instantly accessible through their smart phones. If such students run blogs, their blogs tend to be of the Tumblr sort, i.e., a place to post pictures-- usually pictures taken by others-- and short captions containing insights that are wholly unoriginal. It's sad to think that such kids represent the future, and that they probably occupy the majority of the demographic pie graph. Mustang Sally, in all her cluelessness, sits squarely in that majority.

Do I sound old?



Charles said...

"Do I sound old?"

I am picturing you now, sitting in a rocking chair on your porch, yelling at the damn kids to get off your lawn.

David Wester said...

you are not old. you are experiencing some of the same dynamics that were addressed in the 70's book "Future Shock". Fact of the matter is that there are too many distractions that come along with all the new toys and communication devices that come out on almost a monthly basis. MySpace comes out, then Facebook takes its place. Something else will come along (if it has not already) and replace Facebook.

You are a rarity: a competent teacher who has perspective. This generation today has no chance; their instruction comes from (in general) intellectual midgets who barely got through school themselves. You have inhereted Mustang Sally from a litany of substandard teachers - she has been trained to be the way she is. Insulated from the realities of life. She is headed for the scrap bin of society at the speed of smell.


John from Daejeon said...

With 16 year-old "unschooling" students like Celina Dill Pickle, I still have hope for the world. The current educational system--not so much.

While her spelling and grammar may not be perfect (hell, she's only 16 and no longer in school), her outlook on life is more advanced than the geezers running our schools and governments: "School does not fit everyone - in fact it fits very few. And yet creative, joy filled children are being squished to fit this mold." -- from her March 31st blog post.