Tearing Down Whatever You Built Up

, , , , , | Learning | June 1, 2017

One of the classes I take is basically a shop class. Our midterm grade is to build something for the area Inventor’s Fair.

I have a “friend” who can’t flesh out an original idea to save her life and while I have an idea, I can’t make it work. We end up partnering up — she fixes my idea– and we have the entirety of winter break to build the prototype and make the project’s poster-board and everything else for it. Well, we agree that I’ll do the research and poster-board because I’m not very good building things.

Halfway into break, I have the audacity to ask for pictures of the project for the board. She says, “Well, I built it, but it’s at my dad’s house in South Carolina and it wouldn’t fit in my bag to go on the plane home.”

I smelled bull-s***. But I thought, hey, we have a week still. It’ll be fine.

Every time I ask, and it gets to the point I’m asking everyday, she insists it’s at her dad’s, that he won’t send the pictures, that he’s being lazy, etc.

At this point I’m already rewriting the board and putting together a s*** prototype but a prototype which is the largest part of our grade.

Well, we present it, and she b****es eight ways to Sunday about the “plainness” of our board, and gets herself in trouble for continuing to decorate when the teacher says time’s up.

We go up and present. I have to present just about EVERYTHING because this girl doesn’t know a thing about what I had to do. All the pics are of me working, and the prototype is all my work.

Well, we survive, and I open up for questions and this girl says, before anyone can ask anything, “Just so you know, we had a better prototype that was pretty and well-made and all, but my dad’s being a butt and won’t send it.”

If looks could kill, I don’t know if the teacher or I would have killed her first.

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‘How To Beat Murphy’s Law,’ Now In Print

, , | Learning | May 27, 2017

I start college early through a dual-credit program that takes place on the college campus. It has it’s own wing for non-college level classes for the freshmen and sophomores. Within this wing is a small student “lounge” with a few places to sit, the principal’s office, and printers for student use (versus the computer lab on the college side which charges 50 cents per charge card and 10 cents per page to print).

We have laptops for assignments dispensed to each of us, with filter programs and auto-connectivity to the high school’s secure WiFi. Nearly everything we turn in has to be typed, and as such there is always a small rush for students to get things printed the half hour prior to classes.

Most college students who have a few semesters under their belts will warn freshies of Murphy’s law: on the day of an assignment, when it comes to printing, somehow, somewhere, the printing WILL fail.

This is our first lesson in that law; the WiFi breaks down. The laptops are programmed to connect wirelessly to the printers and the lounge does not have computers to use for printing. Everyone panics. Our teachers play hardball with assignments; if you don’t have your assignment printed, too bad.

I have a bit of a light-bulb moment and flag down my rather laidback AP history teacher as he goes to open up his classroom for the morning and ask him if I can unplug his class PC from the network and plug it into mine so I can see if it will print.

This isn’t something most of our teachers would trust us with as we will be handling equipment on loan from the district signed off under THEIR names. He lets me try and I rush back to the lounge to hear the glorious sound of the printer.

Let me tell you the silent look of hope and wonder and the unsaid “Is it fixed? Is that mine?” on 20 to 30 faces of my peers is incredibly pleasing as was the desolation once the single assignment is assessed as not theirs and only one is forthcoming.

In that moment I was a bit of an a**-hole for relishing the fruit of my plan. Eventually I tell my closest friends, because I knew of the rush and there was only one plug in to the network, and then let the teacher reveal the secret behind the printing.

I’m still a little pleased even almost 10 years later that out of 20 to 30 interviewed and hand selected “gifted” and diversely intelligent students, I was the first to think of a solution and I beat Murphy’s Law. Stress-induced adaptability at it’s finest… I never did wait that long to print an assignment again, though.

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A Negative Impact On Your Grades

, | Learning | April 17, 2017

I’ve just completed the group’s PowerPoint by myself. The presentation goes okay. They know enough not to just read my slides, at least.

Afterwards, we are asked to fill out a review sheet evaluating each others’ performance. Against my better instincts, I answer honestly.

A week passes, and my group is happy to get As. Guess what I get? B minus. I ask my teacher why, and she responds with this gem:

“Your group members said you had a lot of negativity towards the end of the project.”

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Special Treatment Put To The Test

, , | Learning | March 27, 2017

My mom is legally blind and has been so for over 20 years. This has prevented her from doing many things in life because she didn’t believe that she could. However, after hardships that include leaving a toxic marriage, she decides it was time to take charge of her life by going back to college, getting a very good job, and living the way she wants to live.

To participate in her classes, however, she has to carry around a heavy machine and computer that takes a while to set up so that she can read, write, and see what the professors put up on the board. She can see just enough to make out shapes and colors. To read, she has to pick apart each and every letter/word — and sometimes, for the sake of time, scan and guess.

Because of this it takes her twice as long as the average student to complete most of her work. This is barely a problem for the tests and exams that take a couple hours, although she is usually one of the last people to complete them.

Within the first month of her first semester, her foreign language professor strolls in and passes out a slip of paper, telling the class they have five minutes to complete the quiz.

My mom, barely able to even read the questions in such a short amount of time, struggles to set up her necessary equipment quickly only for the machine to not connect to her computer. She barely even gets to look at the quiz when time is up, and she asks if she can have more time or do the quiz after class.

The professor basically told her, “Too bad. If you can’t do the work in the time given then you don’t need to be here. I can’t stop the class just for you.”

My mom reported this to her counselor, who assured her that this kind of behavior wasn’t allowed and that it would be dealt with. During a meeting with the school board, the professor even tried to argue that my mom shouldn’t get “special treatment” for her disability and “just needed to do the work.”

My mom doesn’t want special treatment. She wants to learn and do the work and this professor was not letting her.

Luckily for her, her university has no patience for discrimination. “Tests and quizzes are supposed to help show what the students learned. Putting them on a timer teaches nothing.”

The professor, under threat of losing their job, and after attending many meetings with the disability counselors and the school board, fixes their attitude.

Time skip to my mom’s second semester. Different classes, different professors. But she still has to deal with the occasional “special treatment” type comments. It’s not often, and comes from classmates, but it’s still annoying.

Just last week my mom came home laughing and tells me that other than she and two students, her entire class of 20-30 students were FAILING for not turning in their work and begged for extensions on most, if not all, their assignments (which they had weeks to do and turn in). They offered loads of cryptic excuses that ranged from “I didn’t have enough time,” to “I’ve been busy.” The professor, at a loss, granted the extensions.

“Most of these kids are young twenty-something-year-olds bragging about all the parties and events they go to,” my mom says. “And yet they get extensions for work they’ve had weeks to turn in? I ‘get special treatment,’ my a**!”

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Love’s Languages’s Lost

, , , , , , | Romantic | December 6, 2011

(I am a Japanese teacher. I am presiding over homeroom. A female student, who had a pretty serious fight with her boyfriend in the hall before homeroom, is intently writing on a piece of paper.)

Student: “Ugh, I can’t do this anymore!”

(She throws down her pen and calls up to me.)

Student: “Love is too hard!”

Me: “Well, I know it always seems that way after having a fight. But, you know, people have disagreements all the time and work through them. Besides, you’re still young, and part of this age is discovering how to be in a relationship with others. I am sure he is just as upset as you are.”

(She looks at me quizzically and then holds up the paper she is working on.)

Student: “I meant trying to write it in Japanese for your homework.”

Me: “Oh. Yeah. That can be hard, too.”


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