Monday, December 2, 2013

Trish from Texarkana With the Curious Case of Video Vic.

Perhaps, it is winter that brings all the misery into a sharper more painful light. There is more light in the summer. The warm sunny breezy days lift the spirits. The winter, with overcast days and snow, is a dark cloud that rolls in and stays. Over and over again, I have the frustrating experience of trying to explain to a student that even hamster dancing requires the ability to read and write. Just last week, I spoke with another student, Video Vic, whose goal is to acheive fame and fortune as a hamster dancer.

Video Vic repeatedly insisted that it was a learning disability ( ADD, ADHD, dsylexia, and so on) that doesn't allow Video Vic to complete an essay or to read a short article. Vic seemed to think that this inability was okay. Video Vic resisted the notion that this issue could be overcome by learning coping strategies to deal with the learning disability. I outlined several. I provided examples of famous people who overcame similiar issues.

"Oh, I can just have someone read to me, like Tom Cruise does."

Video Vic also doesn't like math or science.

Somehow the concept that a college education is focused on developing critical thinking skills, such as reading, writing, and logic, hadn't occured to Vic. How in the world will Video Vic get through college if Vic hates math and science, can't read and write (Vic's own admission )? How in the world will Vic work in a field that requires a high level of these skills? You cannot effectively do hamster dancing without reading and writing at a high, or least functional level.

"Oh, I don't need to read. I watch films. I learn everything from film and television."

When asked if Vic had learned anything in my class, the repsonse was a blank stare.
"Oh, I already knew everything we discussed. I watch films all the time about this subject."

Who is to blame for this? The growing insistence that we video tape everything? An education system that emphasizes trophies for everyone?


Note: This dialogue is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Trish from Texarkana

14 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to be so dense, but do you NOT actually have a student like this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Was making a (admittedly oblique) reference to the tag on many a Law and Order episode...

    ReplyDelete
  3. What kind of an idiot gets all his knowledge from movies and TV? How naive must you in order that TV and film be your most trusted source of information? This is why I'm thankful we now have the internet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dang it, beer through a sinus cavity is NOT funny

      Delete
  4. I had a student a few years ago who knew all the lines from Forest Gump and used them all as if they were distilled zen wisdom

    ReplyDelete
  5. What you are describing is the future. Several science fiction writers (William Gibson among them) posited that learning would be video-based in the future. So Video Vic is just the advance guard of a new generation of students--we already know that most of our students won't read, and when they have to, they complain endlessly about how difficult it is--because it is a skill that takes practice to develop, and they would rather surf the Matrix.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isaac Asimov addressed this problem decades ago. His conclusion was that reading well is both a skill and a talent, and (like most skills) it gets both easier and more fun, the more you practice and the better you get at it.

      His anecdote of reading a comic book over the shoulder of a fellow commuter is telling.

      Delete
    2. Addendum: he also concluded that nothing could or would replace the book, broadly understood as a set of text characters forming words, sentences, etc.

      Delete
  6. I see a Master of Netflix coming to a university near me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Now you know why, in my general-ed science course, I spend quite a lot of time reading to my students in much the same way that "Charlotte's Web" was read to me when I was in fifth grade. I do this because it's necessary. They absolutely will NOT read for themselves, regardless of whatever carrot or stick is promised.

    Now you know why my conscience doesn't bother me at all that the textbook I wrote is the main required text for the course. One reason is that if you show me an "echo chamber," I'll show you that the only way to get anything across is repetition with the hope that something sticks. It even accommodates alternative "learning styles": being able to read, and not being able to read. Another reason is that I may be among the last generation of authors to make a profit from writing a book.

    So, Video Vic wants to be read to, just like Tom Cruise? Has anyone pointed out to Vic that Tom Cruise is a multi-millionaire, who can afford people to do this? Vic is going to have to be a REALLY good dancer when he arrives on Broadway, or wherever else he thinks he's going.

    If it's any consolation, Vic's abject lack of shame about not being able to read, write, or think may with any luck result in the grisly accident that will kill him. Imagine his head, with his supercilious smile still on it, rolling down the street. Imagine worse. I giggle when I do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More to the point, how does Vic expect to make a living waiting on tables, which he's likely to do before he gets his first dance gig? If he thinks he's going to remember all those orders, he's got another thing coming, but I hope to see his head rolling after a nasty accident that was his own stupid faulty, nevertheless.

      Delete