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For This I Went to Class?
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
In an ideal world, teachers would be supportive of their students; academic cheerleaders if you will. They encourage you when the going gets rough, offer some food for thought, and willing to let you do extra credit while guiding you through ancient history, or Shakespeare, or whatever.
In the real world, you end up with the kind of teacher that makes you wonder why you spent your hard-earned money on his or her course.
I had that situation last spring, when a friend talked me into taking a creative writing class at a local institution. I could ill afford the $300-plus that it would cost, and on top of that I was working three jobs. On the other hand, it would be fun to have a class together, and I wanted to see if I could take a course while working myself into the grave. Would I be able to muddle through? Theoretically, I should be able to do okay, because, after all, it WAS creative writing. And with that, I enrolled. The result: I came, I saw, I kicked class.
I will admit I flunked the midterm, only because I thought one essay question was required instead of two. I think what saved me was my poetry portfolio, which contained a ballad about Michael Moore and a parody of the “Red Hat” poem, also known as “Warning” in case you want to look it up online: “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat, which doesn’t go...” Mine started out: “When I am an old woman, I shall wear polyester with Supp-hose the color of sand, which doesn’t go with the orthopedic shoes and doesn’t suit me, and spend my social security checks on overpriced meds and Spaghetti-O’s, and TV Guide and say we’ve no money for heating bills...” and so forth.
Jenny Joseph is probably spinning away in her grave right now.
Anyway, I got a perfect score on my poetry portfolio and also on my final project, which was anything we wanted to do. I created a four page, full-color parody of “The Onion,” since my creative writing teacher (does the phrase bitter, pouffy, middle-aged jerk mean anything to you?) just loved it. My articles ranged from the local (What The Hell Time Is It in Indiana? Residents Really Don’t Give a S---”; “Adopt-A-Hubcap Program A Failure In Amish Community”) to the personal (“Cute Little Humping Dog Amuses, Disgusts, Kills Mice”) to the flat-out wacky (“Saks Fifth Avenue To Carry Ann Coulter Bondage Clothing”; and “Agony Of Defeat Outlasts Thrill Of Victory”) just to name a few. Some of the photos I supplied myself, others I found via Google. I could not believe my good luck when I found a picture of Ann “Republican Whore” Coulter wearing what looked to be a black patent leather dress. The only way that would have been better is if she’d been wearing a belt made out of handcuffs. I also was able to dig up a photo of Vinko Bogataj, the luckless ski jumper who wiped out thousands of times on ABC, to top the “Agony Of Defeat” story. Despite my old crappy iMac and obscure desktop publishing software (who out there has ever heard of “AppleWorks6”? Anyone? Anyone?) I was able to put together a hilarious project, which I daresay was probably one of the best that cranky prof has ever seen, not that he would ever admit it.
Then, there were my fellow classmates; a couple were memorable for their quirks. One guy had such poor self-esteem, he made me look like Madonna, Oprah Winfrey and Kathie Lee Gifford all rolled into one. One girl would launch into a rambling story that supposedly related to whatever the prof was talking about. It got so the class would dread the moment she spoke up.
But the real damper was the instructor. He was by far the worst teacher I’d ever had. He would mark something wrong, but not explain why he thought it was wrong. Feedback was non-existent. And to hear him go on about it, not one of us could put together a decent sentence, and not only that, it was ever so tedious teaching such a motley assortment of students. However, we got our revenge by whipping up in-class fiction assignments containing possums, foul-mouthed rock musicians, murder and dildoes.
Higher learning, baby.