I am a Terrible Student

I’m now two weeks into a three-week long course. I’d like to say that things are going smoothly, that there’s no stress on my end, and that this last week will be great. I’d like to say a lot of things.

The truth is, I’m a terrible student. I’ve never been a good student. It takes me a long time to process information or I spend too much time processing information.

Did you know that I once stood in the kitchen aisle at Walmart for about 40 minutes trying to determine which sponge to purchase? I will never buy another brand or type of sponge. If they stop making this particular sponge, I hope to high hell that I have a girlfriend to take care of this chore for me. If I don’t…I don’t even want to think about it.

I’m consistently late with assignments, and I work at odd hours. I have a short attention span, and am usually bored only because I’m not entertained. I’ve got plenty of time, but I fritter it away on things like eating and staring at the single golden strand of hair on the backside of my left hand.

There's a single strand of golden hair on the backside of my left hand. How? Why?
Can you see a single strand of golden hair on the backside of my left hand, near the middle of the photo? How? Why?

How did that hair get there? Why is it there? Am I secretly a blonde? Is that why I’m so much fun? I think I’d rather be a brunette.

See, the course that I’m currently taking is an online course. I don’t have the self-regulation or self-discipline necessary to perform well under my own guise. I don’t do well without an externally imposed structure — temporal and spatial. Within such a structure, I’m able to function at a high enough level to be productive. Without such a structure, I really struggle.

The chiropractor — amazing, by the way — I started going to recently told me today that it’s apparent that I’ve been sitting for long periods of time, working on a computer and reading. She told me that I really need to focus on proper posture, but reassured me that things should get better once this course is over. She also said that going to the gym and seeing her is a great move toward better overall health. As a point of interest, her and I were lab partners in first-year physics; it was an entirely random reunion. Small world.

I digress.

I don’t have farm-power. Farm-power is the ability to git ‘er done.

I sympathize with the students I teach. I don’t have a real issue with late assignments, and I understand why they don’t want to work on math during the time scheduled for math. I let students get away with late assignments, so long as I have them for when I need them, and I try to entertain them with jokes and witty quips during math to help them enjoy their time spent doing math. All of this, however, happens in a school, and in a classroom; I’m there with the students, face-to-face.

Online, the accountability is largely internalized. In a classroom, me and the students have to answer to each other.

Even in class, I’m not a very good student. I was the one who was embittered, always with a cup of coffee and reeking of cigarettes, sitting quietly until I decided it was time to say something. I was never the type to make friends in class, happy to sit alone or in a group. I did do my work in a more timely fashion when I had to go to class. Still, it was better because I was learning something, taking notes, and listening to lectures. I rarely took a computer to school, preferring my fountain pen and a pad of paper. Despite my untimely approach to my education, being in class was much more efficient and productive.

There was also the social aspect of attending class: people were around. I like being around people, even if I’m not talking to them. Now, it might be a few days before I leave my apartment.

I really should sit at my desk to do my work, but I choose to sit on my couch instead.
I really should sit at my desk to do my work, but I choose to sit on my couch instead.

The problem, really, isn’t the format of delivery. It really has to do with the fact that I take too lackadaisical an approach to my own education. I don’t like working too hard, and school is really hard. Well, that’s not entirely true, I’m happy to work hard when it’s not for me.

When I first got into teaching, my father told me to always remember that it’s not about the money or about me, but it’s all about the students, the children of parents. He told me to do my job honestly, because I’m affecting people’s lives.

I do love learning, and I think it’s really important. What I don’t like is being a student. It’s a predicament because I want to learn and I want the freedom to learn at my own pace, according to my own interests, but I can’t do it by myself because I need the structure and resources provided by a well-organized course.

Plus, I just hate deadlines.

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