On Special Students

It is seven and I have just gotten home. I ate Ak-Mak and hummus, which I had stored for this occasion since, due to renovations in the kitchen, I cannot cook. I made a salad and I am drinking a glass of wine. I have just realized I am missing one of the films in the art series the university is giving, a film I really wanted to see. I could still go, and perhaps I will, but I am tired and disoriented and although I remembered it in the morning, I had forgotten until this moment.

The reason for this is special students. In one class, dealing with discipline – confiscating cell phones, sending students out into the hall, insisting they speak to the department chair and the Dean of Students, was truly exhausting today. I and some other students are slightly afraid of one young man who does not seem particularly balanced.

In the next class, we sat in a circle so that the most dominant student cannot place herself in the middle and interrupt so visibly. She moved her chair so as to sit by me and kept tapping me on the shoulder when she felt attention was going to another speaker. She appears to feel she knows more about the material in the course than I or the majors do, and she has given speeches on why our approach to the field is wrong.

This student was the only one who could not write her paper. I have suggested to her repeatedly, verbally and also in writing, that she be evaluated for ADD and get treatment for anxiety. She shouts at me, saying that she should have alternative assignments since she does not miss class and she does “participate.”

All of these students have major educational and mental health problems. I have been repeatedly told we must be understanding and helpful to those who have not had the opportunities in life we have had. They are the customers, and we are to serve them well.

I do not think this is in any way right. I also do not think the problems these people have can be addressed with the idea of “helping the poor student” in mind. These students are well aware that we have been directed to “help” them and to be “understanding,” and they are taking advantage of this.

I note that some of these people are planning on failing — they are in school this semester because grants and loans are what they are living on now. And that, I suggest, is why they are so fervently believe that all recipients of public aid are “freeloaders” — because they themselves are.

They are the easy cases, however. The student who mystifies me is the one tapping me on the shoulder. She is, as she points out, serious. But she has many gaps in her preparation and they cannot be easily filled. I mean: her preparation is a gap and I am not sure how to bridge it, since this is a junior level course already.


3 thoughts on “On Special Students

  1. Students should not be touching professors. They especially should not be tapping them on the shoulder while professors are teaching.

    I had a student once who tugged at my skirt to attract my attention as I was walking among the students during a language class. It was a male student. I was shocked at his complete lack of realization that tugging at professors’s skirts when you are past the age of 5 is unacceptable.

  2. How long did it take to renovate your kitchen? I am in a similar situation. Well, not similar. I think much worse because I do not only need to renovate the kitchen but also it is urgent to completely redo the electrical system in my apartment and the entire plumbing. I hate to have to move to another apartment during renovations but I think I have no choice. I suspect that doing what is needed will require at least 4 months time.

    1. Not as long, because renovations were not so extreme, but it was still irritating. I feel for you!!!

      (It is interesting to reread this post — that was back when I had no authority, and it was not so long ago. Taking authority and giving oneself time are the two most important things, really, and it was Reeducation that taught me to relinquish authority over my life, calling it an “excess of control” [it wasn’t and isn’t, it is just autonomy Reeducation did not think one should have].)

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