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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


moonbat150


Home of the Barking Moonbat


 

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tuesday Morning Self-Indulgent, Self-Congratulatory Pat on the Back

In the parlance of Okie, this is also known as tooting, as in tooting your own horn.

It's about teaching. And yes, it really is true that I really do love all my students, as if they were my own little libelous snorting troop of adolescent orangutans. And yes, it's true that my claim is seemingly contradicted by my own actions, which lately have included setting some of my students up by looking them square in the face and saying if you don't want to be here, leave --- which always results in about a third of each class scurrying out the door like jacked up little tarantulas or something.

Mind you, I always preface that with the simple statement of fact that attendance and high grades do correlate, and not because I take attendance. Attendance and high grades correlate because students actually learn, even if they don't think they are. Passive learning which I always make them put into action ASAP.

The students who leave are the ones who think it's easy because they've been allowed to slide through their entire life. The students who stay are the ones who know it's anything but easy.

Okay, so a bit of a sidetrack, but I overslept this morning and haven't had enough coffee yet.

My self-congratulatory, self-indulgent pat on the back concerns one student who first entered my classes last fall scared to death. A 25ish guy, your pretty typical cowboy who once missed a week of classes because he caught pneumonia staying up all night birthing calves. Laid off dude, barely hanging onto the family farm, thanks to Tyson and Big Business and whatnot, responsible for childcare, has brought his very young daughter to classes before, drags himself in despite hell and high water and by god he labors over his work. Once said in class his entire education consisted of a series of football coaches standing in front of the class cracking jokes.

I saw some real talent in his first work. Yes, his spelling is pretty rough and yes, it's obvious no one ever taught him what a sentence is, but he's one of the good ones who has figured out what a sentence is and learned to self-correct.

But those are the petty details. Sure, I note spelling and bad sentences and serious grammatical errors --- but what I really concentrate on is making them think and forcing them to articulate their thoughts about extremely complex and subtle things. Because my theory is, if they have enough passion about a subject, if they are determined enough, if they can acquire the basic tools required for understanding complexity and sublety and difficult arguments, and if they are given the basic tools for articulating these things, the rest will work itself out.

He's proof it works. He's proof that if you *suggest* about spelling and grammar, but don't penalize, if you keep the focus on content while pushing them to form, form will follow, as it should.

Yes, he came to the class with lots of innate intelligence and curiosity and interest which had been horribly neglected by our pitiful rural schools out here. But his work has only gotten better and better and better, until yesterday, he turned in a truly brilliant essay. A truly brilliant essay about an extremely complex and subtle and difficult subject.

It's so good that even he knows it's good --- and he doesn't know it's good because he's an egotistical boob, which some students are afflicted with. He knows it's good because he finally hit that point we all have enjoyed when suddenly the writing falls into place and suddenly you have that feeling that this - is - right, that the flow and the rhythm are right, the content is fabulous and this is a piece of work worthy of chopping a tree down for the paper.

I couldn't be prouder if he were my own son. And this, despite the truly gruesome salary I get and despite how physically horrible the work is --- I can easily spend 80 hours a week on my teaching --- this is why I continue teaching because students like this make it worth it.

4 Comments:

At 9:41 PM, Blogger grammydeb said...

Hi Moonbat, (I love that). I really enjoy your blog. I have only been reading it for a little while and to tell the truth, I have a case of newby blogitis. Do you have a bio on your site that I am missing? I am curious as to what and whom you teach. This is such an interesting post and I'd really like to hear more.

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger grammydeb said...

Hi Moonbat, (I love that). I really enjoy your blog. I have only been reading it for a little while and to tell the truth, I have a case of newby blogitis. Do you have a bio on your site that I am missing? (Could be right in front of my face). I am curious as to what subjects and whom you teach. This is such an interesting post and I'd like to hear more.

 
At 5:24 PM, Blogger Cookie said...

He. :=D I have tried as hard as I can to hide my identity, although if someone were really determined, they could connect the dots and figure out who I am (although they'd never be able to find me --- we're not mapped out here :=P which suits me just fine!).

I'll tell you this: I'm somewhere in Arklahoma in the Cherokee Nation and I'm surrounded by water and hills and hollows and across the road --- well, across a pasture of cows and two roads --- from a wildlife preserve and a few miles from a national forest in the adjacent state and I'm surrounded by cowboys and Indians and a few Bubbas and my students are all cowboys and Indians and Bubba-ettes.

And that's all I'm going to say. :=D

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger Cookie said...

Okay, so ity's actually a few cow pastures and a couple of roads and down the way just a bit. But I won't say which way. :=D

I'm very mouthy but secretive.

 

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