Thursday, February 18, 2010


This morning, I'm simmering in a gentle broth of rage.  No carrots or onions to accompany, though God knows my fury could use a snack - no, I'm all the flavor this cauldron can handle.

I've been telling this story - or discussing this situation, as it's ongoing - with those around me.  I'm sure they could use a break from the saga that effects no one but me, so I thought I'd send it forth into cyberspace.

Since this is my first posting, here's a tiny bit of background information.  I'm an online student.  Currently, I'm enrolled in a shamefully idiotic community college run out of MA, and I fight daily battles in which my stance is, "Yes, you do have to educate me."  It's quite tiring, as I'm not all that keen on doing homework in the first place - but for fuck's sake, if I'm going to put in the effort than they have to, too!

To the contrary, my professors don't believe this is the case.  I call them professors because "unskilled cunts" takes longer to type, and not because they've earned the title.  One professor refuses to organize her assignments logically, and prefers to vomit up mish-mashed folders that contain very little usefull information and quite a bit of confusion.  Another has yet to even begin her class (which should have started on January 25th) and is inevitably spending her time in her bathrobe, awash in a sea of cats.

These are petty crimes in comparison to those committed by my World Civilizations professor.  I knew there were going to be issues when I received his poor "copy & paste" syllabus that had bits and pieces from other classes he was "teaching" but very little content relevant to the one in which I was actually enrolled.  In fact, all the course objectives pertained to an American political course of some sort.

Assignments thus far have consisted of reading two chapters in the textbook (fifty six pages) and watching a very dreary, old time-y, heavily accented film (twenty seven minutes).  A bit dull, but no problem, right?  So here's where we got cooking.

Last week, a discussion board assignment was posted.  "Please discuss the video that I posted last week. Encorporate [sic] what you have learned in this chapter to the video. I will periodically post similar videos for you to watch."  Automatically, let's deduct a good 5 points of respect for such a clear spelling error in such a short piece of text.  If you're not an online student, or haven't been a student in some time, you might not be seeing the overall issue.  Let me explain it for me.

The assignment is asking that we discuss FIFTY SIX PAGES of text and TWENTY SEVEN MINUTES of video - all of which covered a very great deal of information.  This in itself is not an issue.  It also says "discuss," but gives no parameters for a discussion.  Should our response be posted by a certain date, and then we have x amount of days to respond to y number of peers?  Will our grade increase if we respond to multiple people?  How long should our responses be?  And most importantly - how long should the original response be?

Easy enough to clear up, right?  Most professors post a rubric to avoid this sort of thing, but I'll just email the guy.  His syllabus promises that any messages sent on a weekday will be replied to within twenty four hours.  I sent an email with my questions on Feb. 10th, a Wednesday.  The assignment is due on Sunday.  SIX DAYS LATER I receive a response.  I use the term "response" loosely, as rather than answering my questions, he directs me to the syllabus.

I find the section on the syllabus about discussion questions.  It's about as vague as the initial assignment.  WHY?  Why, now that the assignment has already become past due, am I still receiving no clarification?  I let him know, politely, that the syllabus is actually quite vague.  He QUOTES HIMSELF, referencing another paragraph of text that was hidden within his "course introduction."  It provides a bit more detail on the response part of the assignment - but still nothing about the original project.

A seed of fury buried deep within me has been watered by his incompetence.  I email again, asking for clarification.  Not for a video of him tangoing, a sonnet about bees, or any other such complicated nonsense.  No, I request CLARIFICATION about an assignment - so that I CAN DO MY SCHOOL WORK.

His tone becomes increasingly smug - I have no clue why.  Let me note that while the assignment was due on Sunday, NONE of my twelve classmates have completed the assignment.  He informs me that no one else has asked any questions, so clearly I'm the only one having a problem.  That's an answer that makes just absolute shit tons of sense.  Yes, I took the initiative to ask questions and I'm the one trying to do my work...  That clearly makes me the troublemaker of the group.

Eventually, I give up and write an essay length response that may or may not include the information he's looking for.  I post it.  I remain the only one to post anything.  This makes it challenging to partake in the "discussion" part of the assignment.  It's due in three days and still no one has made any attempt at completion.

This morning, I receive an email that I'm being "disrespectful" and that he'd appreciate some "decorum."  I'm impressed by this new vocabulary, as it surely must have taken him quite some time to make himself feel important with a thesarus.

The flower of my rage blooms, then explodes.  I crush coal to diamonds.  I see stars.  Red stars.  I think of driving to Massachusetts in order to rip him limb from limb.  Smoke streams from my ears.

I see that he has posted a new folder on how to write discussion questions.  Clearly he sees that I am right, but cannot admit such.  The folder contains irrelevant information that "teaches" HOW to write a discussion response (in generals) but not what this assignment was actually looking for.

I will kill him.  First, however, I must blog.

1 comment:

  1. This was amusing, not that I am laughing at your rage, just the way you wrote about it reminds me of my son.
    I see two things going on, as a student expecting (an rightly so!) that your instructors give you clear instruction and actually learn you a thing or two.
    Your instructor, as and underpaid, under appreciated probably more than competent but just so over the bullshit older person is just doing enough to get by.
    If you're really pissed off, get out there and do stuff about it. Start a petition! Write to the president! Get other students who think like you involved! (Trust me, there are as many or more than the ones who are just skating thru)
    Let the establishment know you're not going to take this anymore. DEMAND change, in a civil way and though it may take years and you may be out of school when it might just be responsible for starting something that matters...BIG.
    Good luck and if I can help...let me know. Your very first follower-