Oh, Jesus. . .

From the final exam in the second section:

“Spanish Civil War was an armed conflict between the Republicans and the Liberals.”

You have no idea how many times, how many fucking times during the semester I explained this shit. This student deserves to be failed just for this atrocity.

Cardboard Boxes

I think I might have exaggerated the horrors of Spain’s economic crisis. One of the students wrote on her final exam: “If I lived in Spain, I wouldn’t be able to  study at a university. Instead, I’d live in a cardboard box and would have to sell my body in the streets.”

I swear to God, I said nothing about cardboard boxes or selling one’s body.

From the Exam: Socialists or Not?

One of the questions on the exam was, “If you were a citizen of Spain, which of the parties would you vote for and why?”

A student responded, “I would support the Socialist Workers’ Party of Spain because I’m against the government having too much control over people’s lives.”

I now don’t know how to diagnoze this. A language problem? A confusion in terminology? A simple mistake? Or something bigger than that?

In the two sections of the course, almost everybody responded that they would support the Spanish Socialists, a few said that they wouldn’t support either PSOE or PP because both parties are too conservative, and only one student said she would support the PP because she is repulsed by the endless corruption scandals among Spain’s Socialists.

More Bitching

I have this unfortunate tendency to concentrate on minor setbacks and obsess about them and I have no energy to resist it, so here is more bitching.

How is it possible that students at the same university, with the same prof, in the same course achieve such disparate results on the same final exam? I glanced at the second section’s exams and most of them are bizarrely poor. Compared to what the first section produced, they look like they were written by semi-literate first-graders.

If the first section rocked the course and the exam, I know the problem can’t be me, right? Is it really as simple as people getting too tempted by the idea of leaving early in a late afternoon section?

Mind you, this is not an elective. The people who major and minor in the program don’t graduate without this course that is only given once every two years.

I put so much work into this, and now I have to finish off the semester by reading a bunch of crappy final exams where half the people wrote in huge letters to take up more space and mask their indifference and lack of knowledge in this way.

What a major letdown after last night’s beautiful experience of grading the other section.

Bad Exam

Since people don’t like happy posts as much as miserable once, here is my contribution to daily misery. That very same exam in which the students in my morning section excelled yesterday proved to be an unmitigated disaster in the afternoon section. True to form, these students started rushing out 15 minutes into an exam that was supposed to last 1 hour 40 minutes. Obviously, nobody can write 3 thoughtful, detailed essays in Spanish in 15 minutes.

Right to Work

First of all, let me tell you that I love labor unions. I love the idea behind them, I love everything they have achieved for all of us, love them, want to kiss them, and put them under my pillow at night. I was a union organizer for a while, too, so believe me when I tell you that I have very warm and fuzzy feelings towards labor unions.

But I think that the so-called “Right to Work” legislation should absolutely be passed everywhere. People should have the right to choose whether they want to be in a union. If we respect workers and consider them to be reasonable, intelligent, adult people, we have to respect their right to have a job without joining a union.

There is a large group of people in this country that wants to deprive me of my right to choose what’s best for my body claiming a concern for my well-being. These folks insist that women are persuaded and talked into terminating pregnancies by evil doctors as if women were brainless machines with no capacity to make rational decisions.

I know, of course, that employers go to great lengths to prevent workers from joining a union. There is a high probability that I have a much better practical knowledge of this than you do. However, this is not a valid excuse to force the people who don’t want to be unionized into a union against their will. The good of many can never be used to excuse the removal of the right of a few to make their own decisions. Otherwise, we have no rational argument to oppose to anti-abortion bans, anti-blasphemy laws, censorship, forced medication, etc.

We cannot support freedom of choice only when it’s convenient to do so.

Oldies But Goodies

I’m still hoping to reach my deeply autistic obsessive goal of having 1,000,000 hits on the WordPress platform of this blog by January 1, 2013. To facilitate this noble goal, I’m offering you a collection of older posts that I still consider very very good. Enjoy, folks!

Have you ever wondered why different cultures prize different things in a writing style? Here is my answer.

On love and golden dust.

Nobody ever visits this old post but a bunch of folks in search of porn. Maybe you want to rescue it from oblivion by clicking on it?

Funny stories about visiting an OB-GYN while autistic.

Who owns a husband? Not my husband, of course, because we all know an answer to that but just any regular husband.

This is one of the reasons my students like me (hint: I never forget they are human.)

A student and his crotch make me laugh during the finals.

This very short post will always prove hugely popular because of the photo it features. See how I’m trying to mystify you?

Between the legs of a gaucho. There is a picture, too.

In case you missed this important post, it lists the core principles of my political beliefs.

Where is Russia headed? Things have only gotten worse since I published that post.

On age disparity in romantic relationships.

Prosperity changes people. And not necessarily for the better.

Years go by but nobody has yet managed to leave a funnier comment on my blog than the one quoted in this post.

I really want that 1,000,000 hits, folks. Let’s make them happen!

Fair Share

I’m sick to death from hearing this idiotic expression “pay their fair share of taxes.” Like in this quote:

America’s workers and the American economy need jobs, not cuts; for the wealthy to pay their fair share, not for working people to sacrifice more.

I know it sounds very pithy and even rhymes a bit, but don’t people see how stupid this expression is? Have you heard anything more vague and meaningless than “their fair share”? Who are “they”? What is a “fair share”? Surely, everybody believes that the taxes they pay are fair. It’s the actual percentage of what constitutes “fair” for each group that is in question.

There is stupidity on both sides, and the more idiotic a discourse is, the more popular it becomes. “The fair share of taxes” is the progressive equivalent of the conservative “socialist Obama.”

Christmas Gift

I just finished grading the final exams in my course on Contemporary Spain and I’m happy to report that for the very first time in my long and productive teaching career I have been able to give a well-deserved grade of A for every single exam written in this section. These students amazed me, people. We covered so much material in the course, yet the students managed to absorb it and analyze it in a shockingly excellent manner.

And this wasn’t just some easy-peasy multiple choice, “When did the Spanish Civil War begin?” kind of exam. Oh no, not at all. The students were asked to write 3 essays on the history, politics and economy of Spain in the XXth century. Real analytical essays. In Spanish.

Of course, this was an exceptional group all semester long. They always studied together, formed groups to go over the material, persecuted me with questions, helped each other. As a result, the final exams were sensational. Obviously, not everybody will get an A in the course. In fact, most people won’t. But this is a great achievement for a final exam. I’m thinking I must be a pretty darn good teacher to get them so interested in the material.

I’m now sitting here, bawling my eyes out because this is true happiness for a teacher. To see an entire group of students engage with the material in such a passionate, insightful, deeply personal way is priceless.

And to the person who told me that the course wouldn’t work, that the students wouldn’t care, that they were not prepared for this amount of complex material, that I should stop thinking that I’m still at Cornell, that I should start dumbing down my material, I have this to say: put this in your pipe and suck on it, fella. And then stick it deep into your anal cavity.