Sunday, May 12, 2013

Flava: Mandatory Freshman Reading

Lots of universities have a Freshman Reading Program. It's supposed to create a common topic for all the little darlings.

I submit for your CM consideration the following book: Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps.

Author Kelly Williams Brown tells it like it is, but like she's the sassy older sister of your precious froshie.

Here's some flava:

"Step 1: Accept that you are not that special This is the most difficult and important thing to accept if you wish to be a grown-up: You are not a Special Snowflake.
Step 2: Appreciate those who disagree with step 1 Well, you are to some people. Your parents, presumably, love you very much and think you are perhaps the most adorable, talented thing ever to prance upon this earth. Your friends agree with them, as do your favorite teachers, as does your significant other. When there is a You Parade, these people will be the flag bearers, the drum majors and majorettes, so make sure you are always flag bearing and drum majoring for them, too. These people who think so highly of us are very special and precious, and we must treasure them. Because here is the truth: Most of the world doesn’t give a flying fuck about you."

Brown, Kelly Williams (2013-05-07). Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps (pp. 6-7). 
Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

She says what we can't. It's spot on, and rather funny. I fell in love with this book at Step 1.


  1. 1 copy just ordered!
    Thanks, Maybelle.

  2. I think I just found my new text for my first level hamster composition course.

    Bless you, Maybelle.

  3. I'm torn. Someone needs to say it to them, but is this really the best we can get for a Freshman Reading curriculum?


    "Most of the world doesn’t give a flying fuck about you."

    Okay, I'm sold.

  4. I've found that more and more of my students need help with even basic things: navigating interpersonal relationships, cooking, work/life balance, and this books puts it all out there.

    Are parents so overprotective today that their kids can't even perform basic cooking skills? My "job" in the family was to prepare dinner once a week for the rest of the family, do laundry, load/unload the dishwasher, and set/clear the table.

    I'm so sick of the entitlement. This book points out that no one gives a fuck about how wonderful they are, and the proceeds to tell them how to be grown ups. Love it.

    1. I am amazed at some of the stuff my students don't know how to do. One of my students missed a class because they had a flat tire and had to call a tow-truck. "Don't you know how to change a tire?" "Blank look."

    2. When I started teaching in the late 1980s, I was shocked at how I was expected to coddle my students. I didn't care how wonderful they were back then and that never changed while I was an instructor.

      Guess who got written up for not having any "people skills", whatever they are?

    3. Shit, I don't know how to change a tire.

    4. Really? It's a very useful skill and not hard to learn. That and learning to do a jump-start for a dead battery...

    5. I could (and did) change my own tire at 17, on my way to take the ACT, no less.

      I had a discussion with a friend who argued that colleges should be teaching "life skills" like balancing a checkbook. "Blank look". Because I value the friendship, I did not laugh. I used it as a teachable moment. "Who would teach these skills? What academic discipline teaches how to sort laundry? Textiles? How to pay bills on time? Accounting, I guess. But when did that stop being the parents' job?"

      No, if I teach any more first year seminars, I'm totally using this book. Many of my students are first gen college kids so they don't know what to expect, but the lack of common sense on all levels is just astounding.

    6. Another copy sold.

      *Colleges* should be teaching life skills? No, that's what high school is for. Economics class should include balancing a checkbook, calculating interest, building a decent credit rating, and investing.

      High schools should also offer (if not require) a year with hands-on rotations in basic auto maintenance, basic home maintenance (clearing a drain, operating power tools), basic cooking, and what used to be called "typing" and is now "keyboarding."

      Yep, bring back Shop and Home Economics.

    7. I have helped change a tire, in afternoon in midsummer in Death Valley in fact, with a jack that didn't work, using piled up rocks to jack up the back end of the car. Which is why I will call a tow truck from now on. I feel that I have done my tire-changing.

      Everything else, though, absolutely. I assist students to learn essential life skills by assuming that they already have them.

    8. PG, I might have been one of the last graduates of the combined shop/home ec program my school called "practical arts."

      A quarter of woodworking, then metal shop (with wiring - we built a desk lamp), then cooking, then sewing.

      Those classes -- and typing -- taught me skills I have used regularly to this day.

      I learned basic auto repair at my dad's knee, back in the day when you could do your own tune up. I'd support changing the "shop" portion to a quarter of auto then basic home repair.

      My mother still is stunned I installed in my own dimmer switch.

    9. I hated shop class at the time, but lord I've used it since, as well as the stuff my Mom and Dad both taught me. I've told some of my students they should learn to cook. Some of the young men looked dubious until I told them that one way to impress a young lady was to be able to cook her a nice romantic dinner. Yes, yes, there are more reasons than that to learn to cook, but these were college-age boys I was talking to.

    10. A student of mine asked me to help her address an envelope home. She was not an ELL student.

      I know how to change a tire, but if AAA it near, I'm calling AAA to do it.

  5. I'm buying this for my own kids!

  6. Just in time for high school graduation. Could it surpass "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" ? Probably not.
    For the record, I can change a tire but haven't balanced the checkbook in over a decade. I "do the math" in the ledger, but doing a line-by-line monthly reconciliation just seems like a waste of time.

  7. I'm contemplating a purchase for a young relative who is graduating from high school (also contemplating whether said relative or relative's parents might take it the wrong way. Probably not; they're pretty sensible).

    I know in theory how to change a tire, but in practice I call AAA, since I can't get the lug nuts off if they're machine-tightened (and they're always machine-tightened). The AAA guy uses a portable machine to get them off, so I feel somewhat vindicated. It would probably also help if my car still had a full set of hubcaps.

    And I, too, have given up checkbook-balancing (actually, I was never really very good about it, though I do know how), but I do have a sense of what money should be flowing where -- enough so that I'd notice any significant deviation from the norm that wasn't the result of my own actions/decisions.

    In my favor, I cooked my first roast chicken at 10, and was making full holiday dinners by the time I was in high school (mother dead; grandmothers aging & losing physical/mental ability; father capable and willing but working very long hours, including holidays). I also did my own laundry, and was an experienced scheduler/greeter of home repair people. Spent grad school juggling school work and long-distance elder care (fortunately, they/we could afford in-home help, so the issues were more logistical and psychological than practical). It was all probably a bit more than I needed/really should have been doing at any one stage (my younger sibling didn't step up to quite the same degree, nor was (s)he expected to), but I can't help thinking that teenagers/young adults these days have a bit too little experience of real responsibility (e.g. dinner/laundry/other chores) and a bit too much experience of artificial "challenge" (e.g. sports, other "activities"). My view is also informed by watching one close friend and one cousin become quite capable parents of infants at 20 and 18, respectively. Each had help (including an equally-capable though equally-young partner, a key factor), and neither, I'm pretty sure, would recommend the experience to their own offspring, but, for all the "frontal lobe not developed until mid-20s" stuff, it's worth noting that human beings are designed to reproduce, and so be primarily responsible for the care of very small, very needy, very helpless other human beings, in their mid-teens. While that's not, to my mind, an argument for early reproduction, it is an argument for giving teenagers real responsibilities with real consequences.

  8. For those who have problems with lug nuts, carry in your trunk a length of pipe approximately 3 feet long with an inside diameter that is large enough to fit over the jack handle. After fitting it over the handle, grasp the end farthest from the wheel and exert force. You will be able to produce more torque on the stubborn nut. If that doesn't work you can increase the length by moving the end of the pipe off the head of the jack and farther up the handle.


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