Or should I say, what is education coming to? I spent 30 minutes with a student today who was having some troubles with understanding her music appreciation assignment. The assignment consisted of listening to some music provided by the textbook's CDs and reading the material corresponding to the songs. Then, after much listening and some studying, there was to be a quiz ala the listening exams of olden days when a song is played, and they have to list the title, composer, and genre. For some reason, I thought this asignment was farily straight forward. I am not normally the type of person to toss around the phrase "straight forward" much preferring the "it's hard for some people, but with some work, I bet you can do it." However, in this case...
So, 'Tiffany' comes to my Office Hour, after MUCH cajoling and reassuring that I am not a mean, scary professor. Tiffany fits her name well. It's a very "cute" name that offers little trace of backbone. As she walked into my so-called office, she brought with her a very large sigh and said "I am ccompletely lost." Tiffany strikes me as the type who actually reads Cosmo and Seventeen for the articles. She looks constantly as if she has been air brushed for the runway of life. However, I am a "professor" and MUST conceal any contempt upon first glance. I smile and welcome her into my office.
She says she is having a hard time unsderstanding the music and memorizing the titles and genres of the pieces I assighned (please keep in mind that this is 30 min. before the quiz is given). The word Genre has almost a hint of a dipthong when she says it: Geaneria. I explain that the word isn't music specific and remind her that things such as sports and clothing could have genres (I should have mentioned our tri-genre blog of "classy, tacky stupid" as an example, but somehow, it slipped my mind). I asked her to describe to me how she studied, and she said that she thought the best way was by inserting the class tunes into her I-Pod and "Zoning Out." Yes, my friends, she actually said that she zoned out to the music. When I suggested to her that "zoning" may not be the best possible method of study, her response was to give me the worlds most vapid look. Imagine the expressions of Teletubbies.
Swallowing a scream, I explained how to actively listen to music and had her go through her book looking up terms and finding where the book actually defines everything and clarifies the points I make in class lecture. She repeatedly nods and apes whatever I say in almost a drone. Finally, she looks up and says "So, do you think it would help for me to read the book and listen to the music at the same time? And if there is a word I don't understand, would it help for me to look it up?" Through a clenched, toothy smile, I emphatically say, "YES."
I left that Office Hour feeling somewhat exhausted and yet satisfied. I now know that it is true that college isn't what it used to be. Not only do students give a damn, it doesn't even occur to them that they should. And, I am a mean, scary professor.