It happens every year. I see a kid struggling with some insane end of the year assignment that is supposed to be the crowning achievement in this teachers classroom, the thing that the teacher, the administrators, the school board and the authorities at the state and can point to and say in their deep pompous voices (sound the trumpets please da da da dum!) “This is a good teacher because….”
Because she requires her students to read all the works of William Shakespeare the last week of school and then each student does a 7,000 page report on the life and times of Bill, and how the Cold War affected the views of his body of work and led to the downfall of modern civilization and MTV (because kids just love MTV and it makes it relate to their lives). This paper will be graded using this 12 page rubric which everyone received the day before the paper was due so they know what to expect and every item must be checked off or I FAIL them because we are learning life skills and people who don’t follow the rules FAIL, this is 2000% of their grade.
Meanwhile on the other side of the quad, multipurpose room, or artfully arranged desks (so the room appears less institutional) the final is handed out and its “gonna be so easy” a final over the human body. Each bone must be labeled with correct spellings, each muscle with correct spellings. There will be a diagram of the brain and each section must be labeled along with a short paragraph detailing what each part is responsible for Fill in the correct average dimensions for both female and males of the species on every item (just to work in a bit of Math) CORRECT SPELLING and proper grammar please. The you have 2.5 minutes to complete the 4000 questions. “Should be simple if you were paying attention all year.” There will be deductions for misspellings, improper grammar, forgetting to put your name on the paper, improperly sharpened pencils frustrate me if your writing smears that will be a 1 point deduction if it becomes too faint that I have to strain to read it I will immediately stop grading and the rest of the questions will be marked with a zero, writing too small or too large will be a 5 point per page deduction this test is 10 pages people, that can FAIL you, so pay attention to your penmanship. I do not believe in extra credit DO NOT ASK!
Down the hall, around the corner, you know where it is, ” We are going to have some fun for your final assignment. You must build your favorite structure from any of the eras or cultures we have studied this year using only sugar cubes and water. No other materials, we want the playing field to be level, everyone has the same resources. No glue as we want this project to be environmentally friendly. I recommend that you get to the local store early if you are planning to build The Sears Tower. My other class is also using sugar to build their world globes and “those guys are really go getters they could quite possibly snatch up all the sugar ” (teacher short hand for “I hate this class and you guys suck but they tell me I need to motivate you”) This is gonna be so much fun. When you complete your structure write a brief report, detailing why you chose this building and its significance to society and just to make it interesting write it from the view of a cartoon character from a historical cartoon from the era your building was constructed. I have emailed you all the rubric because the English teacher used up all the paper in the school so I couldn’t print one. It’s written in Chinese because its the one I used when I was teaching in Hong Kong so just slip it into google translate. As long as you get this turned in by Monday, remember the ‘mortar’ is going to need time to harden so I would recommend starting these right away I am giving you lots of time on this so use it wisely.
My heart hurts, I don’t know how to tell them. “Hang in there, half of life is showing up. What you are really learning is valuable stuff…how to fake it, how to take a step forward when everything in life seems to be determined to knock you down. You are learning what things in life you absolutely hate, and will go to great lengths to avoid. You are learning that not everything in life is of equal importance. Oh and that stuff with Bill Shakespeare, you will run into him again because there will be a character in a Disney movie who runs around quoting him”
What valuable lessons did you learn in school?