Tag Archives: homework

This one teacher made us write out all of the questions

When I was a sophomore in high school, we had to take health as a class for part of the year. So for a few months, the otherwise sweat suit clad junior-varsity lacrosse coach would pick up his suit and tie from the dry cleaners and teach us about health. I don’t want to knock health as a subject, I’m sure with the right curriculum, there’s a lot of important material to be learned.


But I do want to knock this health teacher. What a joke. He’d walk in the door on the first day nearly blackout drunk on the power of being a classroom teacher. The health unit wouldn’t start until sometime around the middle of the year, yet he’d still give a huge introductory speech, like, “OK, if you need to go to the bathroom, please raise your hand, all right?” like, come on man, everybody knows how to go to the bathroom, it’s January already, we’ve been here for months.

“Don’t think this is going to be an easy class,” he’d give the most toothless warning ever. Of course this wasn’t going to be an easy class. It was going to be an annoying class. Why? Because this dude was the worst teacher I’ve ever had in my life. There was nothing easy about sitting in that desk every day, even if it was for only fifty minutes or so, trying to stomach this guy playing teacher.

You could tell just by the suit that he wore to class every day that he had no idea what he was doing, while at the same time taking it all way too seriously. Whereas most other teachers wore regular clothes, you know, regular jackets and regular ties, I clearly remember this guy wearing a double-breasted navy coat, complete with shiny gold buttons. It was like he walked into the Men’s Warehouse and said, “I want to like the way I’m going to look, and I want you guarantee it!”

But this is all incredibly petty of me. I’m thinking back on this guy, here I am, I’m making fun of his clothes, that’s not really nice of me. He’s just doing his job. I’m sure he would have rather been outside, teaching phys-ed, not stuck in here going over the same half-unit every year to a bunch of kids that he wouldn’t be around long enough to even get to know their names.

No, you know what? I just tried, I tried to be sympathetic, I got caught up in feeling bad because I made fun of his jacket, but I tried to see it from his point of view and, no, I can’t, I really couldn’t stand this guy. Do you know why?

It was because of the way he made us do homework. We had these stupid textbooks with a bunch of dumb homework questions printed at the end of every chapter. So guess what our homework was? Yup, it was those questions, perfect for the teacher who didn’t really feel like putting any effort whatsoever into planning out what we were supposed to do after school.

But it wasn’t that he just assigned us a bunch of busy work, it was that he demanded that we write out the entire question in addition to the answer. No other teacher in the school made us handwrite the questions. That’s just dumb. It’s stupid. It’s a complete lack of ability to put yourself in the position of your students. Or, even worse, it’s a total ability to put yourself in the position of your students, and seeing it from that angle, understanding what a total waste of time it is to write out some bullshit question, and then to assign it anyway, man, this guy was probably a total sociopath.

The answers to the questions were in the chapter somewhere. It wasn’t hard. It was a manual cut and paste. But to also make us write out the question? And then what did this guy do with our work when we passed it in? He gave everything a check mark and passed it right back. Gee, thanks so much for giving me back this piece of paper. Instead of you throwing them in the trash all at once, I guess you can kill ten minutes or so passing them all back and having us line up after class to toss them in one by one.

I don’t know why I was thinking of this today, and I know I should let stupid little nonsense like this go, but if I ever run into this guy in the future, I’m going to get in his face, I’m going to be like, “Hey man, what the hell was up with making us write out those questions? Huh? Are you stupid or are you just an asshole? Which one?”


I’ve been taking these writing classes for the past year. They’re usually like eight weeks long, once a week type of deals. They’re great. They keep me writing. They force me to go beyond my habits, the way that I go about writing almost unconsciously. I’m starting my third series of classes tomorrow morning, and, although I had told myself that this time would be different, it’s not different at all. It’s ten thirty at night as I’m writing this, and as of right now, I still haven’t even started the homework that’s due tomorrow morning.

I always do this. I’ve always done this my whole life. It doesn’t matter if I have a day or a whole semester to complete an assignment; every single time I’ll put it off to the last second humanly possible, and then I’ll sit around for another ten minutes or so before I really get to work. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s not a good feeling, that growing ball of anxiety in my stomach, the knowledge that I’d be saving myself a lot of grief if I just got something started, anything really, so that when it’s all said and done I could look back and think, well, at least I tried.

In high school I would stay up the whole night before a test and not start studying until like five in the morning. That’s crazy. I knew it was crazy. But I could never get myself to actually crack open a book unless I felt that sudden panic, the kind of a physical response that you only get when you look at your watch, look at all of the work that you have to get done, and you say to yourself, “Holy shit, there is no way I’m going to be able to write a ten page paper in half an hour,” and then all of the sudden I’d be working like crazy.

Why couldn’t I do that same level of work, but earlier? Why couldn’t I spread it out? Give myself a chance to do maybe a second draft, a reread at least. So when I got to college I thought, you know what, I’ll just go to the library. I’ll just sit in the library, free from distraction, away from my friends watching movies and having fun. I won’t leave until I’m done with my work. But the library had a vending machine. The library had Internet. Sometimes I would just go wandering the stacks and looking through random books that had absolutely nothing to do with the task at hand. So all I would wind up doing was wasting time, but in the library instead of in my dorm room.

It’s like there is some part of me that would rather do anything, literally any other thing than what I’m supposed to be doing. I must be a glutton for pain. Because, and I already said this, but knowing that something is due in like an hour is the worst feeling in the world. Sometimes I wish that I would have just not handed anything in, got an F, and then called it a day. But I’m always somehow able buy myself more time, prolong the agony. I’d go to a professor’s office hours and ask for more time. They always said yes. So I’d be stuck an extra day in the library, again wandering the halls, wasting time trying to get into normally locked doors, seeing if they had anything cool hidden away.

I took this to such an extreme that, after four pretty successful years of somehow managing to stuff a whole bachelor’s in liberal arts worth of work into maybe ten cumulative hours of last minute fury, I decided that, for my very last paper due at college, some ten page final grade essay for some elective philosophy class that had nothing to do with my major, I’d just not do it at all and see how far I could push back the deadline. It was pretty far. I got the dean and professor to allow me to hand it in like mid July, about a month and a half after graduation. I actually had to go to the dean’s office and exchange him this paper for my diploma.

That’s totally, beyond crazy, really. I was like, well, this is my last paper, after this I’ll be free of this night-before-an-assignment-is-due anxiety. And so it didn’t seem important. It didn’t seem real. My brain thought, well, if you actually put your graduation in jeopardy, I mean, that would take the pressure and the anxiety to a whole new level. So I spent my last month at college picking up extra hours at my part-time job, playing intramural softball, making stupid t-shirts for campus clubs … anything and everything except doing this paper that I wound up typing up like half an hour before the dean’s final, I mean it this time, you have to hand it to me in half an hour deadline.

I know that a big part of the problem is with me, there’s just something inside that can’t stick to the task at hand. But I know that another big part of it is the Internet. When I was in the Peace Corps I had no Internet for a solid two years. It was awesome. I started writing, like not just once in a while writing, but writing everyday. It’s the only reason why I’m doing this stuff now, because I know that I can. And I figured out that I could only because I had absolutely nothing else to do with my spare time.

But I’ve been back in America for like a year and a half now and the same old problems are back. I’m sticking to this goal of getting a blog post up every single day, just to give myself a deadline, just to really make it count. Because otherwise I wouldn’t do it at all. But everyday, to get something done, sometimes it takes forever. I’ll just waste so much time not writing when I could easily be writing.

And it’s all even crazier because the only reason I’m writing a blog post right now, at close to eleven at night, is because I have actual homework, writing homework, that I should be doing for tomorrow morning’s class. I haven’t even started it yet. What is wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just have at least started thinking about what I would write for class like a week ago? I signed up for it two weeks ago, and the registration page posted the assignment that was due for tomorrow. I didn’t even look at it. This is ridiculous. Instead of writing my assignment, I spent the same amount of time and energy writing something else, this. This is just insane.