Our guest artist continues with his glimpse back at mrC’s first real job – teaching independent study stylie – while mrC (his present self)  studies for Saturday’s CTEL test.

1991 – Rich (continued)

“Do you have your history homework for me… today?”

“I did it. ” It sounds like deed it.

“But do you have it? Here? Now? At this place and time?”

“I left it at my pad, eh.”

Re: His American history homework. He is currently taking (which means he has a copy of the textbook) US History A. The district curriculum guide lists this as a semester-long course. The class is worth 5 credits out of the 225 that are needed to graduate from the high school. The book that he took home a week ago is about 200 pages long, with 44 chapters divided into 8 units, and purports to cover the time period between the pilgrims and the Reconstruction. Each chapter is approximately 3-5 pages long, and is followed by about 2 pages of MC, T/F, and fill-in-the-blank exercises, with some time-line exercises and find-a-word puzzles thrown in for variety.

The time-line ones can often be quite entertaining. To introduce the concept, the book shows an example of a timeline of a student’s life so far. It shows things like “born” (big event), “first movie” (yippee!), and so on. I like how born and first movie are given equal billing in importance.

The printing in the book is large, the vocabulary basic, and the questions even provide you with a number that corresponds to the paragraph in the previously-read (we hope) text where the answer can be found.  When Rich has finished all the “activities” for each unit, there is a 20 question test – true/false and multiple choice of course; it speeds grading – that must be passed at 70% or better. Of course, if he doesn’t pass he has only to take it again and again until he does. When he has finished all the exercises and tests, he will receive his five credits of American history.

The pages of answers to all these learning activities – if he actually had them to turn in to me – are largely ungraded. There are simply too many pages of T’s and F’s and A’s and C’s, and disjointed responses like: “The Indians,” or “To make money.” After all, the 70% plus on the tests proves that he did the homework. Correcting the homework, I was told, should consist of paging through it looking for skipped questions and such, and writing OK on every third page or so. Even this minimal measure was only done at the behest of the state auditor who, last year, had found stacks and stacks of unmarked homework in the students’ work files. So now much of the job consists of trying to bluff the student into actually attempting to write correct responses. If Rich buys my bluff, and actually reads and tries to understand his text, the activities will take about 6 hours. If he BS’s, it’s about 2.

But, of course these hours are billed to the state as a week’s worth of work for Rich. The state thinks Rich has been diligently spending 20 hours during that week, working on his American history. (Actually, it just takes a week to pry it out of him.)

to be continued.