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Monday, March 19, 2012

Let's start this off with a rant

Yes, you read right. I'm not rebooting this with some heart-felt bit of prose or a philosophical monologue. No, I'm getting straight to the nitty-gritty. So, let's get to it.

So, I go to a Catholic high school in my town.  For our Theology graduation requirement, we have to take three classes in our Junior and Senior years, one falling into each of the following categories: Spiritual (Major Religions of the World, Christian Spirituality), Scriptural (Bible as Literature, Prophesy and Apocalyptic Literature), and Social Justice (Catholic Social Teaching, Peace and Conflict Studies). The latter two categories are each monopolized by one teacher respectively.  I'm going to withhold their names, mostly to preserve my own anonymity as opposed to theirs (believe me, I'd give you their full names and even the classrooms they teach in if I could get away with it). Therefore, I will refer to them as Mr. Grrr (Scripture) and Ms. Ditz (Social Justice).  Both have their popularity ratings in an upside-down bell-curve. Students either love them or hate them; rarely is there any middle ground.  I happen to be on the far left extreme for both.  I'm just too good at keeping my nose clean for them to realize it.

I'm currently in Mr. Grrr's Bible as Literature class.  Why?  Well, I figured if I was going to have to suffer through this shitstorm, I might as well take a class on something I can make cynical and bastardly remarks on.  I was raised having Catholicism shoved down my throat by my parents, sent to CCD classes twice a week for seven years, being dragged to church every Sunday, and even a brief two-year stint in a Catholic elementary school (I'll get to that in another post).  Needless to say, I'm not especially Catholic.  I'm more agnostic than anything.  Still, I have an excuse to rip on the world's best-selling book, having had it practically tied to me most of my life.

I've heard many a tale from my friends who have had Mr. Grrr as a teacher about his…interesting grading system.  All of them are true.  For a guy who's whole personality schtick is, "It's cool.  I'm chill.", he's very anal-retentive about having all his students produce 100% original work.  Alright, that doesn't sound so bad, does it?  Teaches us to do things for ourselves, right?  Well, if you even adapt something that isn't yours for your assignment (short of quotes), even if you cite it up-front where everyone can see it, you get a zero on the assignment.  End of story.  If you're lucky, he'll let you redo the assignment.  If you're not, well, you've got that zero to contend with as well as that black-eye on his opinion of you.  Some of you reading may see him as just combatting laziness and schlock-job work, but it gets better.  These classes are only a semester long each.  So he's rushing through it to make sure he finishes whatever it is he wants to do.  However, he doesn't skimp on the projects.  The big projects.  And he gives us two weeks, tops. OK, technically we have three weeks to a month, but the guy just keeps flappin' his trap for so long, it takes him almost a week to explain the criteria and get groups together.  But the due date remains the same.  Grating on you yet?  Just wait, it gets even better.  If you turn in exceptional and professional-quality work, he's notorious for having a zero waiting for you.  One of my friends is an absolute genius at 3D modeling.  Guy's got his entire art school tuition paid for from grants and scholarships.  He decided to set the bar in his ApocaLit class by presenting his little masterpieces for a project.  Four times.  He got zeroes on the first three.  Now, between appeals to administration, department chairs, and direct intervention from his parents, he was able to overturn the three zeroes.  For as much flak as I can confirm that man has caught, I can't figure out why Mr. Grrr hasn't been handed a pink slip yet.

At last we get to the whole point of this exercise.  Right now, we are working on a project for Bible as Lit, where we need to do a video re-enactment of one of the Prophetic books of the Bible.  No big deal, right? Just get some bedsheets, wear them like togas, grab a point-and-shoot still-cam, set it to video, and just make a quick home film.  Well…no, not at all.  He wants, and I quote, "Something worthy of the Sundance Film Festival," with full sets, costumes, memorized and convincing dialogue, and perfect editing.  This is due Thursday.  We got our groups on Friday, March 9th. We didn't have time to decide on our book until the following Tuesday, March 13th.  And he wants this on the 22nd.  Naturally, this has pissed a lot of students off.  With no budget and no time, we are not going to be able to produce a professional-quality short film like he wants.  Any of you with a grain common sense can understand that.  In my opinion, he's either not grasping or ignoring the fact that we are not professionals.  Movie-making is not our passion or life goal.  It is not what we base our lives around.  Right now, we're just worried about making it through the next year and a half, and all the classes it entails, without tripping over grades.  Why he doesn't take this into account is beyond me.  I'll treat you all to the delusions in grandeur that are my plans on how to get through that granite skull of his another time.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some voiceovers to do.

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