Right Working Romantic Related Learning Friendly Healthy Legal Inspirational Unfiltered

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.

We Grant You A Retroactive Honorary “A”

, , , , , , | Learning | March 24, 2022

As a student, I mostly kept to myself; I wasn’t one of those who go out of their way to befriend the lecturers and tutors, but I typically did very well for myself. However, there is one major assignment that sticks out in my memory.

At the start of our year, we were told that the structure of the course had been changed. Previously, it had been composed of three assignments and an end-of-term exam; it now consisted of one case study and the exam with a 50/50 weighting toward your total mark.

Young me decided that this meant that they wanted you to use the case study as a “springboard” to discuss the subject more widely with only loose reference to the example. In retrospect, I wish that I’d discussed this with my tutor because it turned out that, no, they actually did want a detailed discussion of that specific topic. However, I know that at least some of the faculty agreed with my interpretation because of how the marks were handed out.

I was unlucky enough to have been selected for double marking: my paper was graded and then re-graded by a second member of the team. I know this because when I was given the form with my grade breakdown and comments, I could see that the original marks written in pencil had been rubbed out but were still clearly visible, and the original comments were still there in pen. I had been given an original mark in the high eighties (an A by UK university standards) and the new mark was exactly 50%, the lowest possible pass.

As you can imagine, I was a bit upset, and I went to speak to the head of the course.

Me: “Hi, I’d like to appeal my mark.”

Course Lead: “So would everyone else who did poorly. I am afraid that the marks stand.”

Me: “Yes, but I think something very odd has gone on with my grading, and clearly, there’s been some difference of opinion between the markers because I’ve gone from an A to the minimum pass!”

The course lead glanced at my paper.

Course Lead: “Ah, yes, I remember this one. You were too generic and didn’t discuss the case study in enough detail. The mark stands.”

Me: “Hold on. I accept that I purposefully only referred loosely to the case study, and if that was my mistake, then fine, but some of the breakdown doesn’t make sense against the marks. Look at this one on my research and bibliography; the comment says, ‘The breadth and scope of your research are impressive and have been well utilised throughout your paper, well done!’ My original mark on this criteria was nine out of ten, but it’s been changed to two out of ten with no justification or comment! How does a grade of two out of ten make sense when I’ve literally been congratulated on how well researched the paper is? Someone has just slashed every mark I got in every category without explanation.”

Course Lead: “Hmmm… Well, okay. You can have your original mark in that one section back but nothing else.”

Me: “Well, given that you’ve reduced my overall grade by over 30% and multiple levels, that still seems unfair. Could I get a third person to look at it?”

Course Lead: “No! Don’t be ridiculous. We don’t have the time or resources for that.”

Me: “Well, okay. If you had taken 1% more off, I’d have failed and would have had the opportunity to resubmit, wouldn’t I?”

Course Lead: “Well, yes.”

Me: “Okay, then. Can you please do that so I can rewrite it, then?”

Course Lead: “No! You can’t appeal to fail!”

Me: “Even your own team had a big difference of opinion on how to approach this. Even if I had spoken to someone, there’s no guarantee I’d have gotten the right information. But fair enough. I didn’t and misunderstood the requirements. It just seems that, under the circumstances, the fair thing to do, given how much I’ve been marked down, would be to give me a chance to do it over.”

Course Lead: “No, that is ridiculous and I won’t discuss this further. You can have an uplift of 7% for your research, but that’s it.”

After that, they gathered up their papers, turned around, and walked off before I could say anything else. Fortunately, I passed the exam well enough to bring up my aggregate grade a bit, but this class still gave me the lowest mark for the year. As I passed overall and was a bit scared of reprisals, I never appealed this any higher, but I think I was fairly scathing in my course review.

Everyone Is Someone’s Hero

, , , , , | Related | January 2, 2022

I’ve been having a really bad day, though not for any particular reason. I’m just in a grump. I’m still in a grump when my little sister comes home from primary school. She wants to tell me something, and even though I’m not in the mood, I do my best to not get frustrated while trying to understand her. 

Talking is difficult for her due to a multitude of health issues, so I’m leaving out the back and forth of figuring out what she is saying and just typing what she wanted to say.

Sister: “We had to write about our heroes in class today.”

Me: “Oh, dear, I hated doing that. Could you think of anyone to write about? I could never think of anyone.”

Sister: “No, I thought of a person.”

Me: “Good for you.”

Sister: “Will you read it?”

Me: “Now?”

She starts getting something out of her bag.

Me: “Ah, uh, well… I’m not really—”

Cue disappointed puppy-dog eyes.

Me: “Erm, maybe after dinner? My eyes are a little, uh, tired right now is all.”

Sister: “Okay!”

I muddle my way through cooking and eating dinner, not looking forward to the effort reading her handwriting is going to be — not that mine is any better. I’m just being a complete butthole about it.

After we’ve eaten, she brings me her exercise book.

Me: “You want me to read this out loud, or am I okay to just read it in my head?”

Sister: “That’s fine.”

I begin to read.

Book: “My hero is [My Name].”

I pause. That can’t be right. I reread the first sentence. She can’t possibly mean me. Who is this other person who has my extremely rare name that she has met and thinks is her hero?

Book: “[My Name] is my sister.”

I look up at her.

Me: “Me?”

My sister nods vigorously, and I return my attention to her book. I read compliment after compliment about how she thinks I’m smart, about how I make her laugh, and about how grateful she is for me looking after her. And as I read these words that don’t feel true to me, I’m crying with a hand clamped over my mouth to stop the noise.

When I finish, I look up at her. She looks concerned, probably because I’m really not supposed to be crying over this.

Me: “Cuddle?”

It was a good cuddle.

Graduating To A New Level Of Stupid

, , , , , , | Learning | CREDIT: Brandilio | June 18, 2021

Back in 2013, I was a senior at a high school I had just transferred to. I had moved earlier in the year because my parents got divorced, and I made the deliberate choice to leave my old high school and move in with my dad, attending a new high school.

Normally, switching schools isn’t a huge deal, but it was sort of an abrupt move; I wasn’t able to take any of the AP classes I normally would have taken because they all had mandatory summer projects that I wouldn’t have been able to do in a week.

Additionally, a week into the school year, we were told about this stupid senior project they wanted us to do. In a nutshell, there was some acronym — IMPACT or something — and each letter represented a value of the school. They wanted us to write about how IMPACT had influenced us in our time at the school. We were then told that, should we NOT do the senior project, we wouldn’t be able to walk for graduation. Oh, no!

I heard this and thought it was stupid for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I had only just gotten there, so their dumb acronym didn’t mean anything to me. I brought this concern up to the lady telling us about the project, and her response was that I just “figure something out or don’t walk.”

Well, okay, then.

I brought it up with my dad, asked if he gave a hot s*** whether or not I walked for a high school graduation. He did not. So I just figured that I wouldn’t do the project. End of story, right?

Wrong.

You see, a few months into this senior project, they did a checkup on every senior. We just lined up in our homeroom to talk to some lady from the principal’s office and told her how close we were to being done. When I walked up, I told her that I wasn’t doing it.

Lady: *Confused* “You’re not going to do it? You have to. It’s non-negotiable.”

Me: “No, it’s not. I don’t have to do it.”

Lady: “But you won’t walk if you don’t do it.”

Me: “Yeah.”

Then we just sort of stared at each other, and she wrote my name down and shooed me away. I correctly assumed that this would not be the last interaction I had regarding this non-issue. Several weeks later, my suspicions were confirmed when I was pulled out of class and brought into the main office.

They ushered me into the vice principal’s personal office, where she made a bit of a show of pulling out some papers. She told me that the meeting was regarding a misunderstanding I may have had regarding the senior project. She was apparently told that I didn’t know what to do for the assignment and I had chosen to boycott the whole thing as a result. I quickly corrected her.

Me: “I very clearly understand what you want me to do, but I think it’s stupid and I’m not going to do it. I understand the penalty for not doing it and I’m fine with that.”

She, like the first lady, seemed confused by this course of action and just let me leave, since there wasn’t really much of a conversation to be had.

A few more weeks later, I got pulled out of yet another class for this same thing. Again, I was brought up to the vice principal for a one-on-one. When I got there, she looked like the cat that ate the canary.

Vice Principal: “So, I know you were in here a while ago, and you said you didn’t want to do your senior project—”

Me: *Interrupting* “No. I said wasn’t doing the project.”

Vice Principal: “Well, we had a chat with your mother over the phone earlier this week. She told us that she really wants you to walk at your graduation.”

I was quiet for a moment.

Me: “Um… I live with my dad.”

Vice Principal: “Right, but your mom said she’d like to attend the ceremony and see you walk.”

Me: “I don’t think you get it. I live with my dad for a reason.

If ever there were an expression that perfectly exemplified the dial-up tone, that’s the face she made. After she collected herself, I was released and headed back to class.

By this point, I was mostly just not doing the project because it was dumb. But them calling a family member to strong-arm me was crossing a line. On top of that, they tried to strong-arm me using a parent with whom I was no-contact. I decided right then that, no matter what, I wasn’t caving into their bulls***. F*** the project, f*** the school, and f*** the weird tactics they were trying to use. However, in my anger was also confusion. Why did these people care so much about one guy not doing an optional assignment? I had made myself very clear, so was that the end of it?

Spoiler: it wasn’t.

A few more weeks later, I got pulled into the actual principal’s office. The principal, for reference, was one of those guys that tried to make a show of being overly friendly and goofy but to the point where it came off as superficial. When I got to his office, he was his usual extroverted self, greeted me, and sat me down.

Principal: “I’ve heard about this whole senior project problem you’ve had going on. And I get it. Trust me, I really do; you’re new here, so our motto hasn’t had as much of an impression. So, after talking about it with the folks grading the projects, we think it’d be just fine if you had a modified project. Just do a project on one letter of IMPACT, and you’re golden.”

He gave me a big warm smile.

Me: “No.”

Principal: *Smiling* “Sorry?”

Me: “I’m not doing it.”

His smile was slowly fading now.

Principal: “But you only have to do one letter. It’s really not that much.”

Me: “Yeah, I got that. I’m still not going to do it.”

Principal: “But you won’t be able to walk on graduation day.”

Me: “Yep.”

Principal: “So what’s the issue, exactly?”

Me: “You called my mom.”

His mouth was open like he was going to say something, but I guess nothing came to mind, as we sat in silence for a good twenty seconds — him trying to formulate an argument and me staring back blankly.

Me: “If that’s everything you need to talk about, I’ll be heading back to class.”

He didn’t protest, so I just left.

It was after this meeting that I eventually got some context. Apparently, California schools will shuffle principals around every few years for some reason that probably makes sense, but I don’t care enough to research. Our principal was going to be switching schools after the 2013 semester had ended, and one of his big plans was to leave that high school with 100% participation in the senior projects that would otherwise not affect any final grade.

He used the threat of preventing students from walking at graduation to bully everyone into doing the dumb project — almost everyone. I stuck to my guns and refused to do it. And sure enough, after the deadline had passed, they made a big deal about how happy they were that 99.6% of students completed their senior projects, even though they were hoping for 100%.

And the absolute dumbest part about this exercise in stupid? After everything was said and done, I was called in one last time to the VP’s office. She told me that, despite my refusal to do the senior project, they were still going to let me walk, and they gave me five tickets for friends and family. I laughed, walked out without the tickets, and didn’t attend my own graduation.


This story is part of our Best Of June 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of June 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of June 2021 roundup!

Every Vacation Has A Price

, , , , , , | Learning | June 15, 2021

When I was in fifth grade, there was this one kid who, to put it kindly, could never be accused of being in possession of general common sense. For example, he bragged to some kids about something mischievous he did — within earshot of the school principal!

One day, he did not show up to class, and no one thought anything of it. As usual, the teacher would leave whatever assignments and whatnot on his desk.

A week went by, followed by yet another week. I overheard the teacher mentioning to a faculty member that calls had been placed to the kid’s home, which had been both unanswered and unreturned, and that there was a serious concern that there might have been a serious personal emergency or illness.

Then one day, he popped up, as grand as you please, bragging to the kids about his “vacation” in Texas. The teacher saw him and obviously confronted him.

Teacher: “Where have you been the past two weeks?”

Kid: *Grandly, with a huge smile* “Texaaaaaas! Dad got a huge bonus at work and some vacation time and took us all! Yep! Got myself a heck of a tan, too!”

Teacher: *Turning a patchwork of purple and red* “You can’t just up and take a vacation smack in the middle of the school year without making arrangements with us first about your schoolwork! What is wrong with you?”

Kid: “Schoolwork? But I was on vacation!”

The teacher returns to her desk, produces a tower of paperwork, and plops it down on his desk.

Teacher: “I sure hope you’re ready to sacrifice your lunchtime recesses. And, on top of that, I hope your dad will understand why you will be in detention after school every day until every single assignment is completed!”

Kid: “That’s not fair!”

Teacher: “Unless you would like to get zeroes for everything. And, for your information, it’s not fair to the other students to let you skip out on your work while they are here every day trying and working hard. Anything else you’d like to share with the class about the spectacular time you had in Texas while they were hard at work? We’d love to hear it.”

The kid just scowled.

It took him a month to finally get caught up.