My Beautiful Wickedness

Good morning, my peeps…
October 15, 2007, 5:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

October 15th. Otherwise known as Heat Day in NY — the day when NY supers must turn on the heat in the building. Apparently my husband has the soul of a landlord, as it’s been hella cold in the house all weekend. Yes, I could certainly have walked over to the thermostat and jacked it, but he’s usually right about conservation issues so I put on a hoodie over my sweater and made some hot tea.

I’ve been grading since 3:30 this morning. I will get it done, but it won’t be pretty.

Next semester, I will not assign so much writing. I know that it’s really the only way to get them to do the analysis that we’re looking for and they need a lot of practice, but my colleagues don’t share equally in this burden. I teach many of the intro classes in history and so I am the front line of correcting run-on sentences, malapropisms, bad logic, and other acts of past-o-cide. I don’t believe in the principle of “weeding out” crappy students, so that means I have to try to work them up to where I want them to be. This crop is particularly bad. It’s a given that their writing skills are weak. What is worrying is that their reasoning skills are so poor and that they apparently lack the ability to follow an idea through to its logical conclusion — like “hey, if I do this, that will occur” might not be part of their intellectual kit. Freaky. Also, it’s like chronology as a concept is entirely missing from their heads — the basics of causality and interpretation have been thrown over for juxtaposition and exceptionally selective quoting to try to support their preconceptions instead of (you know) learning something different that their high school teacher didn’t teach them. Fox News ascendant. These children have been left behind. They are America’s future high school social studies teachers. Be very afraid.

If one more kid tells me that the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is found in the Constitution, I’m going to beat them with a rolled-up copy.


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A local newscast, in a report about me in 1997, quoted me talking about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and then in the voiceover, the news girl said THIS was “the first amendment of the Constitution.”

I almost choked.


Comment by Nick Dupree

I’ve found myself forced into a similar situation. I cannot get through the writing I want to assign, especially since our class sizes seem to be getting larger. I’ve also been forced to add a discussion on basic causality to my courses because, like with your students, my kids seem to have no inherent awareness that the past creates the present.

I know this is dreadfully old school of me, but maybe our Medieval colleagues had the right idea that someone needs to learn formal logic and basic language skills before studying other things…

Comment by Gerald


What a bummer….

I refuse to be the old fart that says the twentysomethings have no potential, but now I am beginning to understand why the younger segment of the general public *cannot read a simple bill that comes in the mail*

Your humble Customer Service Rep, you see, is a Bad Person. Because I expect literacy from customers living in high dollar zip codes.

(I am not at all evil to teens and seniors whom I speak with every day. Those are the patient careful interactions…but if someone has a high end job, and lives in gated community luxury, then *I* *expect* *literacy.*

Silly me.

Comment by imfunny2

“past-o-cide” Love it. I laughed out loud and startled the cat.

Comment by listie

I know this is dreadfully old school of me

You say that like being old school is a bad thing.

but maybe our Medieval colleagues had the right idea that someone needs to learn formal logic and basic language skills before studying other things.

And rhetoric. Don’t forget that. In fairness to today’s students, though, I should point out that the trivia was taught to all incoming students at universities; no one was expected to be able to write or reason properly coming in, so perhaps kids haven’t become dumber in the past 800 years.

Comment by nm

Awww. We had Hum 110 for that. Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about the Greeks and Romans, and you had to learn to write and reason, to boot. Every professor (even the visiting ones) had to participate, so no one was stuck with an unfair load, and every student (even transfers) had to take it so nobody got left out. You had to learn to deal with information taught by a bunch of different teachers with a bunch of different styles and foci, and you had to learn to read (.. a lot. This semester’s text list to follow, as the link is totally emblazoned with schooleyness) and talk about what you read (lecture/conference class structure, with no more than 18 to a conference, and often as few as 8 or 9), and then write about it and spit it back on tests. Good practice, that.

Aeschylus, The Oresteia, trans. Fagles (Penguin)
Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Crisp (Cambridge)
Aristophanes, Three Comedies: The Birds, The Clouds, The Wasps, ed. Arrowsmith (Chicago)
Curd, ed., Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia, trans. McKirahan (Hackett)
Euripides, Euripides V: Electra, The Phoenician Women, The Bacchae, ed. Grene and Lattimore (Chicago)
Harvey, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing (Hackett)
Herodotus, The History, trans. Selincourt (Penguin)
Hesiod, Theogony, Works and Days, and Shield, trans. Lombardo (Hackett)
Homer, The Iliad, trans. Lattimore (Chicago)
Martin, Ancient Greece From Pre-Historic to Hellenistic Times (Yale)
Miller, Greek Lyric: An Anthology in Translation (Hackett)
Osborne, Archaic and Classical Greek Art (Oxford)
Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates, trans. Grube (Hackett)
Plato, Republic, trans. Reeve (Hackett)
Sophocles, Sophocles I: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, ed. Grene and Lattimore (Chicago)
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars, trans. Warner (Penguin)
Essays on Ancient Greece (Pamphlet / Bookstore)

Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Fagles (Penguin)
Williams and Colomb, The Craft of Argument (Concise Edition) (Chicago)

Comment by Magniloquence

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