Friday, September 6, 2013

Three ways my students are weird

On paper, my students aren't all that much different from the ones in Postdoc City, in terms of economics and academics. In fact, the Postdoc State School students were all theoretically going to do actual four-year degrees, whereas I have students in my classes here who are going for certificates in welding or dental hygiene and are not going to transfer. But man, the Hot Place students are regular pistols compared to the ones at Postdoc State! They all have things to say about the readings (even when they haven't done the readings yet) and want to say them. The writing I've seen so far is about the same, but there is so much less of the "I'm just here to get a degree and that will automatically get me a job" attitude here.

- The Hot Place students are so much friendlier. Sure, the area Postdoc City is located in is supposed to be a place known for its friendliness and hospitality, but the students were so much more likely to sit there like lumps. I have a couple dudes in each class who make a point of introducing themselves to people who show up and add my class late --- with handshaking! and introductions! "Politeness" in the other place seemed much more focused on deference and saying "ma'am" and "sir," and on clamming up because disagreeing with anybody or even mentioning an opinion seems somehow rude and wrong. Likewise, I have heard "oh, let me help you with that" and "can I help you?" spontaneously from my students. Granted, there are more people in wheelchairs or with disabilities around here, but I have certainly had to "suggest" that my students help someone back in Postdoc City.

In addition, I have had students come up and tell me thank you and that they liked my teaching style already ---- (???) ---- "I like how you make class interesting," "I'm glad that you want us to make our own opinions in our papers," and today: "our whole group would like to say we are so impressed with how you take everybody's thoughts and put them up on the board and really listen." Uh, ok. I kind of want to say, what kind of crappy teachers did you have that my teaching style seems amazing instead of just average? But I don't want to hear any badmouthing of any teachers, so I won't ask. Like I said, I haven't had people be impressed and complimentary about my teaching, even when I was in my grad school teaching days. I dunno.

- Today I had a student come to my office hours all mad because he had ordered books and the bookstore had lost the order instead of putting anything on hold for him. Hopefully he can bring in a credit card statement and get them to give him the book. However, he still needed today's reading. "Here," I said. "Go photocopy mine over in the library." "Is that free?" he asked. He didn't have any cash on him. Instead, he asks, hey, could I bring in my printer to your office? Um, wut? He says he has it in his car. "Bring it on in," I say, mystified.

So about 10 minutes later he shows up with a big bag with a scanner-printer in it. "I got this for free at a garage sale," he says, setting it up on my office floor, "because they lost the CD with the drivers. Little did they know," he says, plugging it in, "that you can find all the drivers online. I had a sociology paper due right after my biology class, so I finished writing the paper in class ---" I facepalm and shake my head, "and brought the printer in from my car and printed it out right there in the soc lecture hall. So I already had it with me." If my students ever complain again about having printer troubles or not being able to print on campus because of the lines, I'm going to bring up this story.

- Also today we were discussing strategies advertisements use to sell us food products and the way they manipulate our emotions, and I was trying to get them to grasp the concept that food has many symbolic associations and emotional resonances, and one student piped up, "yeah, like how there's this one guru who says if you even so much as drink a glass of water that someone has prepared for you with anger in their heart, it's like drinking poison." The student went on to talk about The Resonance and I can't get any further into that without outing some locations.

But, yeah. Don't get me wrong; I like 'em. But definitely weird.


Susan said...

Isn't it funny how the things first year students comment on really make you wonder about the pedagogy at their HS? But while weird, perhaps, your students would be fun to teach. And the printer story? Priceless!

Belle said...

Sounds fabulous! Maybe they know a bit more about the value of education? The CCs I went to and taught in had a lot of students who'd worked for years, and knew that what they were getting was important for their future. And they worked hard for it.

Contingent Cassandra said...

Well, friendly & enthusiastic weird beats surly & resistant weird any day. Sounds promising (and like another reason not to run 'em over if you can help it).