Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bad Pedagogy at Home Depot

After a two-hour workout, I decided to meet Meredith at the Home Depot so we could learn how to tile our bathroom. I was tired, sore, and hungry, so my brain was translating the aluminum bleacher's texture at the talk site as doubly uncomfortable.

Anyway, Home-Depot-Tile-Guy arrived and removed two largish plastic soda bottles from a grocery bag. I got worried after he had done that because that meant he was going to teach for a long time. He then basically asked the twelve of us seated on the benches if we had any questions.

Uh . . . yeah? Lots? Maybe you should direct the order of your talk a little better?

So then insane-million-question-lady-in-the-front-row starts asking questions about her house, how to build a shower, how to tile a jacuzzi, how to tile the underside of her car, how to tile her cat. I mean, SHUT UP!!!! Insane-million-question-lady-in-the-front-row kept going on and on. When people had their own questions, insane-million-question-lady-in-the-front-row would cut them off, throw in a question, REALIZE that it wasn't related to the topic at hand, and then proceed to rephrase a question so it would fit her problem. Half the time she didn't even know what topic we were on. The other people on the bleachers were rolling their eyes. If I had hair on my head, I'd have pulled it out.

We ended up leaving the session early, but the damage had been done. I'd been put in a foul mood.

This is for the insane-million-question-lady-in-the-front-row:

Do-it-yourself is not for people who need to work on life skills first.

And this is for the Home-Depot-Tile-Guy:

1. Have a planned trajectory for your talk
2. Allow for questions if they're on topic. If they're not, politely tell the questioner that you'd be happy to speak with them after the session.
3. Keep the session on time.
4. Actually DEMONSTRATE how to tile instead of giving us product pitches.

(pissy mode off)


Students wrote pantoums in my poetry class. Funny form. The danger of it is you've really really really got to have some damn fine lines worth hearing more than once.

They're writing ghazals now. I hope Agha Shahid approves wherever he is.

The last two forms will be the villanelle and the sestina. Please give me the strength.


The last of the job candidates comes on Monday. I hear somewhere some school's conducting six searches in the same department. Talk about cruelty! One's hard enough!


PJ Harvey is in heavy rotation on the iPod.


Stephanie King said...

Your Home-Depot story made me laugh - a lot.


Beware the villanelle. Mixing rhyme scheme with repetition is such a bad idea for beginning writer's. My student's last year had some really uniquely awful villanelles.

Oliver de la Paz said...

Glad I could lighten your day. Home Depot made handouts which would've been sufficient information. I didn't even need to subject myself to the torture . . .


As for the villanelle, they've been pretty good so far with the other forms. Sure, there's a lot of love poems and relationship poems, but at least they're writing in form. I prepared myself early in the quarter for the worst. I've been pleasantly surprised.

barbara jane said...

don't let them fool you. women customers at home depot are deceptively high maintenance. and the adolescent boy staff are there to cater to their every neurotic need.

and re the villanelle. i think the rhyme scheme and repetition together creates for some very interesting student work! and i think it's fine that students write about relationships and love. they're trying to figure it out. my students' villanelles were quite meaningful, and deep; the structure really helped them focus their material. my 2 cents.

cornshake said...

see? thats why we dont do those Home depot "do it yourself" classes. everything i learned abotu tiling, i read online and learned WHILE ON THE JOB. scary i know, but fun and pleased with the result. as for villanelles, i tell my students if i am pleased with the results (which i almost always am-their creativity astounds me sometimes-i will bring in Villanelle for a special guest visit. They love seeing her dog tag that reads her name on one side and "i love poetry" on the other...