Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Brilliant Idiocracy

You know that forwarded email that comes around once-a-year or so about "those funny things that kids will say" like:

Falling in love is harder than my fourth grade class -- Jack age 10

or

Kissing makes me pee my pants -- Darron age 10...20...and 30

or whatever it is that is so cute and adorable that we just have to laugh at how simultaneously pathetic yet endearing the notion is.

Oh...they just don't know. They are kids. So innocent.

Would we still think it was funny if a college student was still saying:

"When falling in love, I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful." -- Tammy, age 22???

When does it stop being funny, and when does innocence turn into not having logical assertions?

***

At the end of every semester, I am now in charge of running a grading session for a pre-college writing class. The final piece to this particular class is that the students have to write a five-paragraph essay in seventy-five minutes. They don't know the exact prompt before hand, but they get two readings that SHOULD tell them what the topic will be since one reading is always clearly pro while the other is clearly con the topic in question. They get these readings one-to-two weeks before the essay is written.

This past session, the topic was Mandatory National Service...and students had to write a paper whether they were for or against this topic.

***

Here are the quotes from this session that struck me. I have cleaned up the wording, spelling, and grammar...but have kept the ideas intact:

The Poet: The word "mandatory" and "volunteering" go together like mayo on apple pie.

Mr. Paranoia: National Service will lead into Communist systems like the Neighborhood Watch program. For example, my cousin got arrested by San Diego SWAT for accidentally selling half-a-joint to an undercover cop.

The Nutritionist: The United States has too many overweight people to have mandatory national service. If we make these people serve in the military, most likely we are in trouble.

The Surfer: Community service rocks, so make it mandatory, dude!

The Philosopher: I became a volunteer at a nursing home because I wanted to learn how to become old.

The Politician: Mandatory national service should be an optional obligation.

***

The day of the grading session, about three hours deep, the levity of these comments made me laugh.

Five days removed..I just don't think they are so cute anymore...only 64% of the students passed this exam this summer. That's up 12% from the spring....

A 52% passing rate.

That is not endearing. That is not innocence. That's just scary.

8 comments:

Tauni said...

This is sad and funny, but mostly sad. Oh yeah, and everyone involved in neighborhood watch is a commie.

ann marie said...

clearly, you have never had mayo on apple pie . . .

cmacabuhay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maccerz said...

Wow, I think is your best blog yet.

jose luis said...

Ahh, the pleasures and pains of teaching... what I do is kick back with a nice bottle of cab sauv and laugh and cry at the same time while grading my students essays. By the end, start playing drinking games: for every cliche, plagiarism, off topic or bushism written, you drink modaf#$%er!!! lol

Lali said...

Wow, kissing makes me pee my pants too! Darron and I are soul mates...

seeryanrun said...

Dude, read this one already. Do something new, would ya?

Anonymous said...

Now that I'm in the midst of grading again, this is painful to read. I mourned for some of my 43 students this weekend.