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Stories from school and college

This Is A Game You Are Not Going To Win

, , , , , , , | Learning | April 14, 2022

I go to a university that focuses on art, including fields like visual effects/special effects, game design, concept design, and animation. Two of my roommates are also game design majors and thus attended a forty-eight-hour game jam at my school, which basically means they and a group of however-many-people they wanted had to make a game following a theme within forty-eight hours. 

Usually, for the game jam they participated in, all concepts, characters, and everything from modeling to coding to even a video trailer that is used as “grading” criteria is done within said forty-eight hours after the announcement of the theme. 

However, this year, due to makeup classes that fell during the game jam, the school delayed it by a week but still announced the theme. This meant that all teams had up to a week to at least think of a concept that fit the theme; as long as no assets were previously made, it technically wasn’t against the rules.

My two roommates were in a team of fourteen people and had already grouped up together and taken over a classroom when a different group asked to use some computers in the classroom at the back. They reluctantly agreed, mostly since there were still free computers.

Along came this girl who started asking nosy questions. When they questioned her, she claimed that she was a game jam official and was thus looking around at the games. This was later proven a lie, as she was mostly looking at the concepts and trying to pick and choose a group to participate in the game jam with. This was very short notice, as my roommate, the overall team leader, had compiled the fourteen-person group at least a few weeks in advance.

The nosy girl made her first mistake by trying to kiss up to a guy that she thought was the lead, ignoring my roommate who kept answering her questions as the actual team lead. 

By the time she figured it out, my roommate had already rejected her, as they already had a solid team and my roommate also could not figure out what in tarnation her major was; her answers fluctuated from animator to a user-interface designer. Later, we found out her major was special effects — bearing a passing resemblance to animation but nothing like user interface.

Eventually, this girl (who managed to bother almost everyone else participating in the game jam) joined the group that was in the same room as my roommates, which turned out to be a fairly obnoxious group, as they would do loud cartoon voices without caring about the other people who were working. 

Even worse, at one point, when a professor walked through, they blatantly lied that my roommates’ group had had “weeks of preparation”. (One week. They had one week, with no models done beforehand or even more than the concept discussed and finalized.) The professor attempted to be a diplomat by telling them that while my roommate’s group had better gameplay, but the obnoxious team had better art.

Eventually, the final day rolled around, and the girl walked up to my roommate’s group and commented on how similar their game was to another group’s and how she sometimes forgot it was a different game. 

Not only were the games not similar except for both having the same word in their title and having animals as protagonists, but this was incredibly rude to do, considering she essentially insinuated that their hours of work didn’t matter due to the games “being similar”.

Nobody reacted. This tactful, diplomatic, and absolutely not at all petty girl proceeded to say it louder, and then had the audacity to go, “Oh, oops, I shouldn’t have said that.” Sure.

Eventually, the game jam finished, and all of the groups were tallied up. Not only did the obnoxious group’s game not fit the theme at all, but my roommate’s team won Best Art. (What was that about their art being better, professor?)

What got me about this whole situation was how extremely quickly this girl burned several possible future professional bridges in less than a single weekend. My roommates are pretty well-connected, and a lot of their friends who also participated in the jam complained about this girl. Even I preemptively blocked this girl without participating in the jam or having met her.

“R” You Serious, Teach?

, , , , , , | Learning | April 13, 2022

The “add to dictionary” function was half-turned-off on the computers at my school. The option was there, you could click it, and the red squiggle would disappear, but that would only last until you logged off. The next time you opened the document, the squiggle would be there again; ditto if you submitted it electronically and the teacher opened it on their computer.

This wouldn’t have been a problem except that my name always gets that red squiggle. Let’s pretend my name is Sanda, for simplicity and anonymity. In Year Eleven, I got the one teacher who was really pedantic about spelling mistakes; we’d lose marks for every red squiggle in our electronically submitted work.

So there I was losing marks for my name, while this other kid whose work I had to peer mark was using “to” instead of “too,” but I was told I was not allowed to deduct marks for that. There was no red squiggle, so clearly “to” was a word, and therefore, no mistake had been made. (Thank everything this guy was not an English teacher.) Being, I think, understandably frustrated, I tried to argue about how I lost points every time just for having a weird name.

My teacher told me I was spelling my name wrong. Uh, no, I was not. I think I know how to spell my own name. He showed me the register on my computer, and where my name, Sanda, should have been, Sandra was there instead. Someone in the receptionist’s office had spelt my name with an R when there was none. While this explained why I had to correct every single teacher on how to pronounce my name, it didn’t help my current issue with this particular teacher thinking I couldn’t spell my own name.

Thankfully, I was able to get my name fixed before GCSE certificates would name me Sandra permanently. The teacher did give back the name marks after I got it sorted, but he didn’t change his method of checking spelling/grammar beyond those red squiggly lines.

Does Mom Need Glasses, Too?

, , , , , | Learning | April 12, 2022

I am a Pre-K assistant teacher. We have a few students that are part-time. One of our part-time students wears glasses but he frequently forgets to wear them. He comes in on one of his days not wearing them. The next time he comes in, his mom walks in furious and immediately starts yelling at the headteacher and me.

Mom: “Where are [Student]’s glasses!?”

Me: *Very confused* “I’m not sure? I don’t recall him wearing them the last time he was here.”

Mom: “No! He definitely had them on and you two lost them!”

Coworker: “I don’t remember him wearing his glasses last time, either. We’ll keep an eye out for them, but are you sure they’re not somewhere at home or maybe in your car?”

Mom: “I’m not stupid! He had them here last time and now we can’t find them. You lost them, and I will be sure that they come out of your paychecks!”

Me: “If you’d like, we can review the security tapes in the office. I apologize if he lost them here. We will keep an eye open for them in case he did.”

Mom: *Glares at me* “You’d better find them or I’ll be talking to your boss.”

Once she leaves, I go to the office and ask to review the footage from when [Student] was dropped off. Sure enough, he wasn’t wearing glasses when he came in. A few days pass by, and [Student] comes in again, this time wearing his glasses. He is dropped off before I come in, but my coworker tells me that when she pointed out that it looked like they had found his glasses, [Mom] admitted that they’d found them in their car but didn’t give an apology for accusing us of losing them.

A few weeks pass. [Student] has his glasses on every day, until one day he comes in without them. I look directly at [Mom].

Me: “I see [Student] doesn’t have his glasses on today. He must have left them at home.”

The look on [Mom]’s face is priceless. 

Mom: *Not making eye contact and muttering* “Uh, yes. They’re at home.”

I continued to point out if he wasn’t wearing them every time he came in for the rest of the year.

Maybe If I’d Learned That Song I’d Be Better At Math

, , , , , , , , | Learning | April 11, 2022

This took place in 2001. I was nine years old and in third grade. We were just starting to learn multiplication and were learning the multiples of threes. My teacher warned us that from here on out, the multiplications were going to get harder and she didn’t want us to feel overwhelmed, so she came up with a song to help us remember the solutions to multiplying threes.

Teacher: “I am going to sing a song that’ll help you memorize all the multiples of three up to the number thirty. I sing this song every year to my students and I’ve had past students, including middle schoolers and even high schoolers, who come back to visit me tell me they remember this song. Are you ready?”

Us: “Yes!”

Teacher: “Three, six, nine, the monkey drank wine; twelve, fifteen, eighteen, we’re going skating; twenty-one, twenty-four, twenty-seven, we’re almost to heaven; thirty!”

Our class erupted in laughter at the silliness of the song, and we asked her to sing it again which she did.

Classmate #1: “Mrs. [Teacher], there’s no way we’re going to remember this when we get older. It’s too silly!”

Teacher: “You might say that now, but I’m telling you, I have students from many years ago come up to me and say one of their favorite memories was learning this song and they still use it to this day!”

Classmate #2: “Yeah, right!”

Fast forward to today. I just turned thirty and I taught my nine-year-old nephew, who is just starting to learn how to multiply, this song my teacher sang all those years ago. It might sound silly, but it turns out she was right when she said we would never forget that song!

Attention Means Different Things To Different People

, , , , , , | Learning | April 10, 2022

My high school experience was an exercise in frustration for everyone involved. I was in a lot of high-level classes because my test scores were excellent, especially in languages. I never got less than an A on any language test — English, Spanish, or French. Even scoring under a 95% was a rarity.

However, most of my language teachers found this irritating rather than encouraging because I “didn’t pay attention in class” — I drew during lectures  — and my homework grades were abysmal due to me almost never handing anything in. In hindsight, I think many of them believed I had to be cheating, especially the one who refused to give me a bonus point on a test that would have tipped my average to an A for the quarter because I was “not an A student” due to my study habits, according to her.

My mom tended to have to sit on me during the last week of each quarter and force me to complete my backlog of missing assignments just so I didn’t completely tank my otherwise good grades. Like I said, frustration for everyone involved.

I had exactly one Spanish teacher who I was able to convince that I really was learning in class, regardless of what my pencil was doing at the moment. And it was completely by accident.

One day, she asked a general question of the class. I was the only one to raise my hand to answer. I did so, and she replied in a somewhat stunned tone that I was correct. Why so surprised? Because at no point in this process did I look up from the drawing I was working on with my other hand. I don’t think she figured out that the drawing was actually helping me pay attention, but she at least realized it wasn’t hindering anything and stopped admonishing me when she caught me doodling instead of taking notes.

Fifteen years later, guess who was diagnosed with ADHD-PI?

“Not an A student,” my left buttcheek.