I was sitting in my Jane Austen seminar the other day for the last class of the semester. English majors must take one 400 level seminar class before they can graduate. These seminars are pretty tough classes: you read one Jane Austen novel per week and have two in-class essays, two 6-8 page out-of-class essays, and one 10-12 page research paper.
This class places huge demands on one’s time.
But I had thought it was also very rewarding. The reading was some of the most enjoyable I’ve been exposed to, and we always had great discussions in class. The teacher is highly knowledgeable; she is the president of the Jane Austen Society of North America. The students would show up and sit near the front, eagerly participating in the discussions.
On this last day of class the same students came and sat in their seats in the front row, only this time the teacher left so that we could do our end-of-course evaluations, a survey about how well the instructor did. These same students sat and bitched about how much they hated the class, how much they hated all the reading, and how much they hated the teacher. One girl said she had cried a few times about the “A-” she got on one of the papers. She had cried on the phone to her husband, saying “I HATE THIS F—ING CLASS!”
I sat there nearly speechless. I could only say, “I’m very surprised.”
I was surprised and crestfallen. What a bunch of FAKERS. They had come to class every week with smiles on their faces, offering insightful commentary to the hated class about subject matter they despised. Had they participated merely to gain the favor of the teacher so they could possibly get higher grades on their assignments?
I’ve always hated that “teacher’s pet” bullshit. Those squirmy little phonies can’t accept that their natural ability might not be enough to get an “A,” so they have to put on an elaborate show. They make themselves up to be the model student—the teacher’s best friend, the excited reader, the enthusiastic academian—and hope that the teacher will be generous to them, their “little buddies.” Just thinking about their figgity little tricks turns my blood into anger juice.
I’ve always admired the guy who sits in the back of the class, who, day after day, makes few or no comments in class. Then when paper time comes, he blows them away. The teacher is like “Woah! Where’d this guy come from?!” Those guys are the truly exceptional; they get the grades on merit alone. No question.