Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Vitriolic rant!

At the moment, I lack the time and energy to discuss Dave Whamond. But I will, oh yes, yes I will discuss Dave Whamond, and there will be SUCH a reckoning.

Instead, I will talk about a thing that terrifies me. Today, in Shakespeare class-- an upper-level class intended only for people who have selected English as their major, minor, or concentration (for Education majors)-- Professor Pendleton asked who, according to Cassius in Julius Caesar, noble-minded men should associate with. This was, I must point out, during a discussion of Cassius's soliloquy, in which he says "it is meet/ That noble minds keep ever with their likes." No one responded immediately (those of us who are not stupid either having said too much already, or just being lazy). So he calls on people: bam bam bam! he asks three, who have no idea. Then he gets to the Stupid One. That's with capital letters, so you know I mean business.

She asks what the question was, and he repeats it. She asks what passage he's talking about, and he says "the one we've been talking about for the past fifteen minutes". She has no idea what that is. So, he gives the act, scene, and line number... she still can't find it. I repeat: having been told, numerically, the passage we are reading, she cannot find it. Okay, maybe she's not hopeless, maybe she just didn't bring her book and didn't want to admit it... but then Professor Pendleton reads the line. "'It is meet,'" he says, "'That noble minds keep ever with their likes.' Who should noble minds keep with?"

She has no idea. She need only have said "their likes" to get away with simple being a bit slow on the uptake, but she is not capable of reading a passage even when it has been read for her. The question, at this point, has become 'say what I just said', and her answer was, in fact, "I'm still not sure what passage we're on."

This is COLLEGE. This isn't even a freshman course. This isn't even a core course. This is someone who is focusing on English who clearly incapable of understanding the language as it is spoken, let alone comprehending literature! At this point, Pendleton was not calling on anyone else, so enraged was he, and I would not have been surprised had he slapped her, but someone else (another member of the Magnificent Seven... the collection of non-idiots) shouted out the answer, even though he tried to stop her. On the one hand, I thank her, for the moment had grown terrifyingly awkward, and as much disdain as I felt for the Stupid One at this point, even I was becoming embarrassed for her. On the other hand, she deserved a reaming far worse than she got. Not paying attention in class is one thing... not knowing where we are in the material is another... and not bringing one's book is another entirely... but being borderline illiterate this far into your advanced education is terrifying. TERRIFYING.


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