Dumb as a box of hair, dumb as a box of rocks, dumb as a bag of hammers (a personal favorite)--but I've used them all too many times. Dumb as a pile of lawn rakings? Dumb as an earthworm convention?
OK, the student isn't really that dumb. He can act it sometimes, but I think he's "dumb" on purpose: it's camouflage. It's how he tries to get away with shit. I did go to the 101 classroom today, because I said I would, but I really thought if anyone would be there, it would be one of the smart, ambitious students, there to try to hammer out some ideas. No: it was the student I thought I'd booted last class. He was back because he doesn't want to withdraw, so he was trying to find an angle. We talked about his second essay, all the parts he was missing--and I said that if he had all the parts, I'd take them, but there would be a big penalty, because now it's all so late, and that might make too big of a hole. But then it turned out he also didn't have the preliminary third essay, which was due Monday. He wanted to turn it in next Monday. I told him that would be too late and I wouldn't accept it. He actually asked me if I'd be on campus between now and then. What, like on Thanksgiving? On the Friday after Thanksgiving, when I'm not on campus on Fridays anyway? No. That's another zero--so this time, really, no kidding: that's a hole you can't get out of. You can't get a C. No way in hell. Withdraw.
He said that he'd just wasted his time, this semester was wasted because he was only going to get a grade for three classes, not four. I said, "That's like saying, I've eaten this whole meal, but I haven't been fed because I didn't get dessert. You had the meal. You learned things." He was trying to say that the point of school is to get the grades (a common belief, which makes me want to tear students' heads off), and I said no, the point of school is to learn something.
But if that's his attitude, yeah: get the fuck out of my class. And you shouldn't have been in my class this long. And I really don't want to see you ever again. Be in my class because you want to learn something.
Ok, ok. I'll calm down. Give me a minute here.
I realize that I don't think I said anything yesterday about my meeting with the colleague I observed. It went very well, actually--and after talking with her, I've changed my mind about what I observed. It was still a pretty disastrous class, but in the grand scheme of things, I think it was a bit of an anomaly. I don't think if I went on any random day, unannounced, I'd see anything wildly different, but I do think that on other days I might see something better--and certainly she was very eager to have my suggestions for how she might foster more engagement in the students. She liked my suggestions very much and says she looks forward to using them--so I take that as a good sign. I've written up the observation; I may fiddle with it a bit once I hear responses from P&B about one bit where I need a little advice, but as far as I'm concerned, the case is now closed, unless we get more intimations that something is going wrong again. I doubt it. I think she realizes that things were slipping a bit and she's pulled them back up again--which is fine. I know she feels a bit persecuted, but as long as she uses that as reason to be at her best, then everyone wins, and she won't be "persecuted" any more.
It does feel good to have that bit done, I must say.
I had some intentions--in a brief moment of self-delusion--of staying here in the office to grade papers for a while this evening, but I have to brave the grocery store, which will take about as much intestinal fortitude as I can muster, I think. So I'm simply going to load all the papers--ALL the papers--into my bag, along with my beautiful editor's desk (which I just love to bits and will continue to mention because it's so utterly perfect), water the plants, and toddle off. It will be a busy holiday weekend: plans every day but Sunday, and when I'm not engaged in some kind of social activity, there will be those papers to chunk away at. I have this fantasy of getting them all done (oh, stop laughing: I said it was a fantasy: a girl can dream) and waltzing in here on Monday with a heavy bag but a light heart.
But here's the weird thing: I meet with my classes seven more times. Each class, seven meetings. That's it. I'm serious: hold onto your hat and scream: we're flying down the fast side of the roller-coaster for sure now.