"The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self-awareness."*
Let me now recount to you, beloved readers, one of my favorite anecdotes from recent parent-pedagogue parleys. Apparently, I, alsoomse, and sciguy, who posted much briefer versions of this conversation in the comments to my post about chasing my own tail, have the same students.
The scene: The eleventh hour of a day that I have spent in a moldering classroom in clothes that are wilted versions of pressed business attire. Bloodshot eyed, our intrepid heroine clutches a mug of tea and proffers a bowl of mints toward a parent and student with a small smile.
Parent: We just don't understand why Popsie has a D-.
Ms. Cornelius: Popsie doesn't always demonstrate understanding of the material. First, Popsie has told me he doesn't read the material in the textbook. He just hunts around for the answers.
Popsie: I don't like to read. I read slow.
Parent: I read slow too. Popsie comes by it naturally.
MC: Popsie, you will always read slowly if you don't practice by actually reading. And it certainly takes longer to hunt for the answers than to actually sit down and read the 5-6 pages all the way through. (Thereupon MC suggests several small tricks for increasing reading speed-- and MC had earlier broached the question of whether Popsie had ever been tested for a reading disablility, and the answer was yes to the testing and no to the disability.) I could help you more if you could stay after school for some coaching.
Parent: Can't you just tell students what is in the book?
MC: (In her head: "No, because that would just make the textbook a great expensive place to rest one's head whilst napping.) No. That would just encourage the kids who are reading their book not to read their book, and it would actually increase the amount of homework everyone has. Do you ever see Popsie study?
Parent: No... But still, why does Popsie have a D-?
MC: (Repressing sigh) Popsie, when I ask you if you understand everything we've covered today, what do you say?
MC: Do you let me know when you don't understand?
MC: Popsie, how many other kids are in the class?
Popsie: Almost thirty.
MC: Right, so I can't ask Popsie fifteen times (without embarassing him) if he needs help if he won't tell me the truth. Now Popsie's average on quizzes and tests is 54%. And when the bell rings at the end of class, Popsie is the first out the door. Did you study for the last quiz, upon which you earned a 42%?
Popsie: No, I didn't understand it....
MC: Did you stay after school with me so that I could help you? I am here every day for thirty minutes to one hour.
MC: Did you stay with the Homework Club?
MC: Did you try using the internet?
Popsie: I don't like the internet.
MC: (Trying to keep from looking heavenward in mute appeal, I try another tack.) Popsie's response questions grade average is a 72%.
Popsie: Yeah, when you grade my questions you always mark some of them wrong.
MC: Sometimes they ARE wrong. And sometimes they're not finished. But what else do I do?
Popsie: You write suggestions for where to find the correct answer next to the wrong answers.
MC: Do you ever attempt to look up the correct answers?
Popsie: No.... But I like it when you talk in class. But then I don't remember.
Parent: So why does Popsie have a D-?
MC: Because Popsie hasn't done any of the many things that would change that D- to something else.
Popsie: I don't like having a D-.
MC: Do you not like it enough to actually do something to change it?
And that's the way it is. Apparently, just because Popsie is here every day, he should get at least a C. I give this conversation a three out of four possible extra-strength tylenol rating. Because that's how many it took to make the throbbing go away. Can you chase three tylenol with a glass of wine? Darn.
Extra points to the reader who can tell me the source of the title of this post.