March 07, 2012

The giving of knowledge

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"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." --William Butler Yeats

The half term starting, for me, tomorrow afternoon, cannot come fast enough. The students this semester are a nightmare!!! They have been so infantilised by their home institution they do not seem able to cope with what they need to achieve here. Almost daily, we send out emails to the group explaining how to reach a London locale or to remind them they have assignments due or to ask them for the forth time to please lodge their travel plans for the half term. It is tedious. My boss and I swear until the air is blue. We yell at each other and it is stressful. Add to that the frustrations regarding pay and contracts and banking etc to the mix, and you can understand my stress.

There is one student in particular who is proving himself to be a pathological liar. His arrogance is also startling as he constantly insults us while at the same time, he acts as though he has given a compliment.

He told us one morning that he had been to the Tate Modern "with someone called Professor X" but he didn't know why he had had to go there again, as he'd only just been there. The professor he refers to is the teacher of the class he takes and he went to the Tate Modern because that was where the class was due to be held.

For the class I took he was ten minutes late. He had been waiting on Euston Road instead of the forecourt of the British Library. I have no idea why he waited on the footpath as this was directly opposite to the instructions I gave the class. For the second part of the class he was 15 minutes late. He got caught up looking at all the items the library holds. Something I understand but it does not help his position. He came into tell me the next day that he had really enjoyed my class. He didn't think I would know so much on Victorian spiritualism or that I would be able to find such interesting stories for their assignments. Gee. Um. Thanks.

Yesterday, he told us, via email, that he wasn't happy with the assignment he had written for Prof X so he wasn't handing it in and would happily take a reduced grade. He was told in no uncertain terms that this choice was not up to him and he now has to submit the assignment by Friday. 

In his class yesterday, at the National Gallery he told the guest lecturer that he had done national service in the Israeli army. Problem the first, he hasn't lived in Israel long enough to be called. Problem the second, if he had served in the army, he would still be there. From what I have been able to find, Israeli national service starts at the age of 18 and lasts for three years. He's only 20.

I could tell you many more tales about this kid. Like how the Tower of London is pretty amazing. Did we know the Tudors lived there. Or how he went to the Liverpool verses Wales game on Saturday March 3. Those of you playing at home will know it was Liverpool verses Arsenal. Or had we ever heard of the Edinburgh Festival? It might surprise him to know that we know he was tweeting during his screenwriting class. Oh yes. Captain Fuddy-Duddy didn't notice, didn't ask him to stop and probably won't have the stones to challenge him on it tomorrow if he tries it again.

Perhaps these small parts do not sound terribly trying on the whole but when you times him by 28 others, all equally as tricky in their own unique ways, it might give you more of an idea. We have the sickly ones who miss classes and don't notify us. We have those who can't tell the time and are continuously late for class. We have those who write their own blogs, promoted by their home universities that are racists and ridiculous. We've even had one student appear on the Graeme Norton show in the big red chair. She didn't last long and Graeme flipped her. We have those who don't speak. We have the alcoholic who suffers from "food poisoning" chronically. 

This semester has been so trying. Thankfully, I am able to fit in my own research around these individuals and these books give me much amusement. You must always be thankful for small mercies.

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