Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You Do Remember I'm the One Who Grades you, Right?

So, when I teach my children's literature course, I like to show how some children's literature has expanded beyond the page.  This takes many forms.  Showing multi-media stories and incorporating videos of authors speaking tend to be the expected routes.

But I also show my students videos of the OSU quidditch team and their facebook page.  I show them where they can find fanfiction on some of the books we read.  I have them listen to songs by Harry and the Potters, Danny D, and The Parselmouths.  I give them a list of all the children's authors that I've been able to find who have Twitter accounts.  I also wear T-shirts with references to specific books.  If the students email me information about the book being referenced, then they can receive extra credit.

I like doing this stuff.  I think it adds some fun to the course and allows students to see how important books can become to people and how creative some responses to literature can be.  Plus, it always gets a few laughs, which is fine.

But this quarter, as I've been presenting some of these (SUPER AWESOME!) aspects of children's literature, some of my students have been going beyond letting a few giggles slide and have been making comments.

Comments like, "What kind of losers have the time to write Harry Potter songs?"  "'Team Peeta' means your one of those crazies who's obsessed with some character," or "Do you not watch TV?  How do you have time to do all of this?"

Now, while each of these comments was made on a different day by a different student,  and while these types of comments don't make me angry, per say, after comments like these are made, I do want to wander over to the questioning student, knock him or her on the head and ask if anyone is home.

Cause you see, I bought the songs by the Harry Potter bands for the students to hear.  I bought and wore the "Team Peeta" T-shirt for the same reason.  And yes, I do watch TV, but I also devoted my life to this children's literature thing, so of course I always want to learn more about it and its many manifestations.  Plus, I multitask when watching TV.  So there.

I'm glad that my students feel comfortable enough to express their opinions and ask vaguely insensitive questions.  But at the same time, I also have to fight the temptation to remind them that I decide what grade they receive.  And while, at the end of the day, I do grade solely on their work and effort, every now and then, I'd like to remind them about social graces and not mocking their instructor's interests to her face.  Cause the instructor's interests are related to the course.

You see, these comments remind of how a professor once cautioned my class to never email a professor about missing a class, implying the class is a low priority in your life.    This lesson seemed obvious.  Not only is it rude, but unwise.  Don't depreciate the person who controls your grade.  Then I became a teacher and started receiving those types of "I had something more important to do" emails.  (Literally.  I once got an email saying "I have something more important to do than attend class."  I should have replied, "I also have important things to do.  Such important things, that I may not remember to give you a good grade in my class." But I didn't and I've since developed a tougher skin.

But the judgmental comments about the subject matter I have chose, is a new development.

These kinds of things can really annoy a professor.

And if you annoy her enough, some professor might decide that instead of reading that one book for next week, she'll require you to write a song from the point of view of a Harry Potter character.

And sing it in front of the class.

Then you'll really have the answer to who writes those weird Harry Potter songs.  Wouldn't that be cruel fun?  Of course, the professor jumping up on the desk and yelling, "Who's the HP loser now, Beeeeeeyooooootches?!" may be a little overkill.  I'll--she'll--try to control herself better next time.

And now we reach the point of my ramblings:

Undergrads of the world, watch how you word that email or question about the awesome  children's literature nerds of the world.  Cause not only am I, your professor, one, but I am also the self-appointed avenger protector of my peeps.

Fear my wrath, for I am a fan of both ironic assignments and yelling.

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