Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Community College Fail

Dr. Evil being charming

The end of the semester looms. The Chemistry teacher won out her battle of brains and wills. I withdrew from her class. Probably the best idea as my sister called me in tears after a test not long ago. My sister who is probably smarter than the professor herself – which is my personal opinion of what is going on in that classroom. This Chemistry teacher – we’ll call her Dr. Evil – has a superiority complex over her poor Basic Chemistry students. Her tests aren’t designed to make you feel like you might actually know what you covered that chapter. No. They’re designed to make you think, “What the heck? When did we cover that?”

She worked in the Chemistry field for years and has an undeniable passion for her subject. However, that doesn’t reflect into her teaching. Her teaching methods leave her students wanting. She nitpicks on small details and stresses topics better suited for higher up Chemistry classes (such as organic topics). She demands you memorize formulas and definitions that you wouldn’t usually touch until a 200+ class.

And flaunts the fact she knows everyone is struggling with pride. “Oh I’ll help you,” she’ll say as her students scratch their heads over her latest lecture. “I’m available after class.” But what student wants help from the person who is confusing them and then admits it? Will she really help after hours? Or will she just reiterate what she spewed from her podium for 2 hours with poorly made power point slides and weak lecture notes?

So while I was severely disappointed with having to withdraw to the point of depression, I felt a little reassured that maybe I had done the right thing. If my sister – whom has the makings of a genius if she wanted – struggled under Dr. Evil’s tutelage, what chance did I have?

And biology, a subject I dearly love, has been disappointing of late. I’ve learned nothing knew, short of the Kreb’s and Calvin cycle to a level of detail I thought would be saved for microbiology (again not a basic biology topic in my mind) and had Darwinism shoved down my throat and then slapped with that paddle until I relented. The labs have been useless recaps of the Introductory Biology course I was forced to take and then even more pointless when they did a few that weren’t from that course.

On top of that, my dear Community College felt the need to force me to “experience the world.” By our professors explanation, the school felt that students didn’t go outside enough or visit enough museums.

I’m sorry, my parents took me camping nearly every summer of my youth and I saw plenty of museums. With my family. Whose job it is to expose me to things like that as a *requirement* NOT my school that I’m paying to teach me a subject. So once again, my sister and I are forced to go a musty old museum that puts the Chicago Art Museum to shame in the name of “experiencing the world” and I must put together a ‘field journal’ to show that I go outside.

What does that have to do with anything we discussed this semester? Nothing. I guess you could sort of tie photosynthesis with the outdoors and the evolution crap with the creepy museum full of stuffed dead creatures, but really – I’d rather pass.

But the end of the semester, as I said before, is merely weeks away. I wonder what I’m ultimately taking away from this half year that I will apply to my later career. My sister and I have both been accepted to the near-by University. We agreed that despite the cheaper price of the community college, the education we were receiving was just not worth it. So its off to EMU we go, financial aid is filed and loans are looking to be in my future.

I will retake that chemistry course over the summer. I’m praying its done by a real Chemistry teacher – not a joke like we had this semester.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lament of the Past

I know I am intelligent.
I am smart. Maybe not very worldly. Or maybe not super street smart. And sometimes I’m na├»ve in believing the greater good in most people…

Or maybe my self-perception is totally an completely off. I’m not sure. The one thing I do know is 1) I am smart and 2) I test like a moron.

I don’t know what it is. It’s been this way since I could remember. Ever since my earliest memory in school I always tested terribly. It really bothered me, but I was super embarrassed about it because it seemed like it was only me who suffered from this “issue”. No one else made the teacher sigh and huff in frustration as she passed back quizzes and tests. No one else had teachers throw their hands up in frustration when they explained things to me one way and I still didn’t understand it.

It made me ashamed.

So I shut up about it. Because even though I tested badly… I still went on to the next grade. Even though I grasped some concepts but not others, as long as I attempted to write answers or guess at my multiple-choice questions, it seemed to be good enough. I know now that somewhere along the way (I estimate around 3rd grade) something went wrong with how the public school system taught certain subjects.

I excelled in reading and writing – but then again, I was reading from a young age and writing as soon as I knew how to string words together. It was a personal passion. And I remember enjoying adding and subtracting as it made sense, was neat and pretty the way you would set it up all aligned…

Then fractions and multiplications came along and somewhere it just didn’t “click.”

I know this because as a soon-to-be 25 year old, I sat in my sister’s 3rd grade classroom and watched 8 and 9 year olds fire off multiplication tables that my brain literally blanked and fizzled out on. I felt such embarrassment, hurt, and anger as I held up cards with what was probably considered simple multiplication and had these kids answer them with a swiftness that put me to shame. I looked at my sister with wonderment and longing. If only I had had her as my teacher. Perhaps I would have been able to do these tables as quickly as her kids in her classroom.

I asked her about it by complimenting them on their multiplication and division skills. She told me she felt most schools didn’t put enough emphasis on learning these basics of math – which is why so many children struggle later on in life. She said the same with reading – by having such strict regiments and making reading an unpleasant, tedious task – children are disinterested. She encourages the passion of reading by letting the children (gasp!) choose what to read. Be it a comic, a novel, or a picture book, “If they’re reading, that’s the most important part.”
If only all our teachers could have that attitude.

Though I don’t mean to say it is all the teachers. My sister is no longer a teacher due to the way the school administration and the school systems forces teachers into teaching in a manner that is inefficient to the students. My sister had kids that loved to read and loved their multiplication tables because she didn’t follow the schools “pre-plan” on how to teach them. By getting to know her kids and paying attention to how they learned, she was able to adjust her lesson plans accordingly.

And when the school would send that “official” to observe to make sure the students were learning the way THEY wanted them to learn, she’d have to put on that show for them. But as soon as they left, things would go back to normal… and the kids would actually learn something.

I can’t say that any individual teacher is at fault for my poor skills that are biting me in the ass as I prepare for a professional career that looks only at test scores. It may not be one teacher’s fault, it may be the system, or maybe a combination of a bad system and few impatient, at-loss teachers. Thrown up hands and sighs of frustration when the way you teach it just doesn’t get through to a young child? Well I know that was a poor choice… but I remember teachers who genuinely tried as best they could with 29 other students needing just as much (maybe more) one on one attention as I needed.

It’s been haunting my thoughts ever since I started going back to school. I dream of being a doctor. And as I get back a test from every class, my heart grows heavier and heavier. If you sat down and discussed the subject with me, I could explain to you exactly what we were tested on fine. But when it’s looking at me from paper, my mind seems to freeze and jumble up. And I write wrong answers or wrong processes, and its only regret marred with red ink and a disappointing grade.

I know I’m smart. I’m just not the smart the way the school systems grade me on.

And in the end, that might be the only thing that matters.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Musing

Valentine’s Day

I’ll admit I like Valentine’s Day.

Because it’s definitely a woman’s holiday. And we need more of those.

I found myself irritated by the amount of anti-Valentine’s day hate that is spewed by the mouths and writers of our local and World Wide Web authors. Everyone wants to bash on it, yelling the tired phrase of “corporate holiday” and “shallow.”

I don’t find it to be shallow at all to have a nationally recognized day of gifting your spouse or S.O. with either an item bought or an item made. And the people I find that put of the most fuss are the ones that don’t want to spend money one someone else. Seriously.
“If he/she loves me then they don’t need to get something.” They shriek at the sight of my cooing over the upcoming day.

“Well of course they would love you regardless, but wouldn’t they be disappointed if you didn’t do anything?”

“It shouldn’t matter!” and then this is usually followed by some tirade of how the corporations are making money off of us on this day, which is exactly why we should do everything in our power to do something that doesn’t fund the holiday.

Short of slapping on the name “Valentine’s Day” and maybe adding more red and pink to the usual pickings of the market – you’re really not spending any difference between that Hershey’s bars you pick up at the market. Or that card you’d buy. Or the construction paper and glitter you purchase to make your own. I’m really not certain why people get up in arms over “one day” when we spend 364 other days of the year getting screwed over on gas prices and rising essentials (food and clothing for example.) Where are our bleeding hearts and outraged speakers for those?

Instead we get bashed over the head for trying to celebrate a harmless holiday of expressing your love towards one another. And you should talk down on the person who decides to spend some money on a bouquet of flowers and a card – or buy those chocolates in the heart shape. Just because you don’t’ want to do it doesn’t mean everyone else in the world shouldn’t either. So sure – hate on the holiday – and I think its good to encourage people to think “outside-the-box” in gifting people… but outright labeling anyone who does purchase items as “uncreative” or “shallow” is just plain rude.
Another point is people like to say, “It’s just another day, why should I do anything special?”

If you think about it, do you really take the time to show your S.O. the amount of thought and express it (through card, gift or words) any other time of the year? Maybe when you’re going through something hormonally or maybe when you’ve had a few too many drinks or the snow starts to fall at midnight on Christmas Eve… but seriously. I know I don’t think about it or really do much – and I feel that Valentine’s Day is a good reminder.

But a good point is, we should make an effort more than once a year, three times a year to show how much we love a person. And for some people, buying someone a bouquet and chocolates is how they do it. And that’s just fine.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stacey's Big Fat American Wedding: Part Two - What I know now

While Part One focused mostly on what I would have done differently, I’d like to focus more on some of the preparation lead up to and the day of the wedding in this next part.

Our next door neighbors in our 3 apartment complex got engaged not long after we moved in that December. I found out by walking in the bar that the girl worked at and saw this huge book that said “A Brides Guide to Her Wedding.” I did what most people ask that annoys the crap out of the bride when it’s an obvious answer: “Oh you’re engaged?”


But she was nice and told me of their engagement and their hopes and plans. They had a similar idea to what Fritz and I were planning. An outdoorsy wedding, perhaps in an old fashioned barn, with a reception to follow in the same location or nearby outdoors. I gave her suggestions from what I had discovered during my planning of an outdoor wedding.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Stacey's Big Fat American Wedding: Part One

So I never really got around to staying on top of updating what was going on with the wedding stuff. In retrospect, there are a lot of things I would have gone back and done differently. However, the wedding went beautifully and everything worked out in the end. And really, I married my husband which was the whole point of this fiasco anyway.

First I think I’ll talk about things I would have done differently. When we first started planning the wedding I was all about being penny pinchers on what we could do. I felt we found a reasonably priced caterer who would provide service at the wedding and cleanup for less than $1,200 for approximately 150 people. We also went to a rental place which had beautiful tents (the owner had used them for his own wedding) which included set up and tear down, no additional charge for the driving out to the wedding location despite it being out in the middle of the woods for around $1,500.

(also here was our wedding website I made mostly for the STD's)