Saturday, September 04, 2010

Time for Whining

It's a little early in the semester for it, but okay.  It's whiny pants day early at the delagar house.

I've got all great classes this semester.  Those of you who teach will know what I mean -- generally there is at least one class on your work load that drags or is clunky, usually the one just before or after lunch, or the early morning class, or some class like that.  Your other classes will be great; this class will be sullen and moody, low-energy, set like wet cats against you.  Every day you walk into the room, there they sit, glowering and sulky: Go ahead.  Teach me something.  I dare you.

Well, this semester all my classes love me and want to learn.  Yay!

And we are learning things!  I've got two sections of freshman comp, one of English grammar (I love teaching grammar), and a Thursday night Fiction Workshop that is packed full and cooking with gas.  I'm giving them truly vicious assignments & getting great work out of them.

So that's all good.

OTOH:  WTF!  Have the public schools just quit teaching reality?  Just quit teaching?  What?

No one in either of my freshmen English classes (ages ranging from about 16 to about 28) had read anything by William Faulkner.  Most of them didn't know who he was.  "I thought you meant that Faulkner guy on TV," one of them said.  (Who?  Apparently I am missing some hot new TV show.)

No one knew who Jesse James was.

No one was really sure what a liberal was, or a conservative.  (No, I'm not kidding.)

I am told, however, that "most," that is, "almost all," of the Founding Fathers were ministers.  Apparently this is something that is being taught in at least one or two of the local schools.  I hope it is not being taught in the public schools, but it wouldn't shock me.  As we know, the religious right just makes shit up these days.

"You know that's not true, right?" I said, about the Founding Fathers, a little winded.  (This wasn't actually in class, this was with a student after class.)

He looked stubborn.  "My history teacher says it is."

I told him he should do some research.  "Remember what I told you.  Authority is fine, but check his sources."

I feel like I'm turning into one of those get-off-my-lawn geezers.  But surely the education systems wasn't always this bad?


Unknown said...

I apparently just missed the slippage of modern education by a year then... but I was the weird one who tried to read Canterbury Tales at 12 1/2... Didn't work out so well... =)

Tree of Knowledge said...

Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't think Jesse James was that motorcycle reality TV guy that cheated on Sandra Bullock. But maybe they're too old to be in a first-year's radar.

I don't ever remember reading Faulkner. But I know who he is, what he's written, and why I should be ashamed.

Tree of Knowledge said...

wait, wait, wait. I haven't read Faulkner novels I should say. I do love Southern Gothic short fiction.

delagar said...

Not only hadn't they read any Faulkner, they hadn't even *heard* of him. I gave them several short story titles, including "Rose for Miss Emily," that they could read for Xtra Credit. One thing I can fix, at least.