Friday, May 14, 2010

Idiot student

The above title is precisely the sort of situation for which I devised a pseudonym.  Ahem.

So, I've been tutoring a student in Subject X.  Subject X is far, far removed from my areas of specialization.  Please understand, dear readers, that this is not like a scholar of Shakespeare and Marlowe saying, "Well, sure, I could teach a course on Milton, but it's not really my specialty..."  This is the equivalent of our Shakespeare and Milton scholar being asked to teach classical physics, because both subjects are old. 

I know that some of you are doubting this, but it's the truth.  I mean, pseudonyms and intentional blogging misdirection aside.

I didn't even want to teach Subject X, but as it happened, my tutoring company had absolutely no one on staff who truly knew the subject.  Incredibly, out of all the tutors on their roster, I was the one who seemed the best fit.  Totally absurd.  It's like asking....well, fuck, just look at the comparison I outlined above!

This means that I was only a few steps ahead of my student at any given time; to be brutally honest, at least half of the time, I wasn't explaining anything that I knew, but reading over hir shoulder and condensing the information into colloquial English.  And my student was...oh, dear god, there's really no polite way to put this.  My student is dumb.  Seriously, mindbendingly dumb.  I actually suspect that zi is mildly retarded.  If that's not the case, then there has been a colossal breakdown in the elementary learning process -- which, given the abysmal state of our state government's approach to public education, is entirely possible.

After blowing through an entire semester's worth of review over the course of a month, since Stu (thanks to Heu Mihi for that generic pseudonym) apparently absorbed nothing throughout the semester, we had one more review session today.  At which Stu asked me questions about stuff we covered.  As in, zi asked me to explain things as though zi had never, ever heard them before.  Because the stupid motherfucker didn't write down anything I explained to hir.

Jesus fucking Christ!  What kind of idiot doesn't write down what the tutor says, when the whole reason that the tutor is needed is that the abovementioned idiot didn't understand anything the professor said?


I refused on principle to take another review session with Stu, an idea which zi brought up at the end of today's session.  I can't stand to deal with hir any longer; the stupid hurts me too much.  Zi is the first student I've ever had as a tutor who, I'm convinced, is actually likely to fail the final exam after all of my efforts.  Zi absorbs almost nothing; zi makes no effort to absorb anything.  Zi rarely writes down anything I say, if I don't actually order hir to write it down.  Zi gets absorbed by picking at hir cuticles while I boil down textbook chapters.  Zi seems highly absorbed by the effort of picking hir nose while I ask hir questions, and then seems surprised when I ask, "Are you with me here?"
One brief anecdote to illustrate what I've been dealing with here, which I admit might reveal some of the actual subject material.  (Big fucking deal; you know neither me nor my student.)  Stu's textbook has a section on violent thunderstorms: how they form, the geophysical processes that come about, etc.  In my neverending attempt to get Stu to recognize that zi actually knows this stuff just by being alive and having lived through thunderstorms, I asked hir, "So, lightning.  What is lightning, Stu?  Never mind the textbook!  You've been in thunderstorms; you've seen lightning.  What is it?  What is it made of?"

Stu wrinkled hir face as zi thought this puzzle over.  After an interminably long period of cogitation, Stu said to me in a questioning tone, "...Water?"


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