Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Too Beautiful to Be Involved

So I show a movie in class. (It doesn't happen that often.) It's a documentary, a rather amusing one, so most students are engaged. But Too Beautiful to Be Involved is checking her IMs (I may not be able to hear the dogwhistle, but I can see the glow, old as my eyes might be), gossiping with her friend, etc. She is quiet about it, and I don't want to interrupt the experience of the other students to call her out, and of course she sits in the back, so I let her go -- for now. I look forward to what she'll write on Thursday, however, when I ask for specific reaction to the film (NOT a pop assignment -- I announced the writing assignment before the film). On other occasions, she and her pals do group work quickly and superficially so they can get to the important talk -- about their lives, about other people. No need to bother your pretty head about strengthening your brain power, Too Beautiful.

I thought quite a while before posting this. Am I being unfair, prejudicial because she IS beautiful? My soul-search says no. Beautiful 17-to-20-year-olds are in abundant supply in my classes. They don't always act like this. Many -- heck, most -- are very involved, very curious. And while maybe Too Beautiful doesn't get involved because those looks have given her a free pass through life so far, maybe also she has some other reason -- intrinsic laziness, perhaps?

Later in the day, I unintentionally create a little experiment and in the process feel a little better about student curiosity. As students come into class, I hand them a copy of the New York Times. More than half the class sit down and start reading through the paper just because. The others stare off into space, take a power nap, or chat. But it nevertheless heartens me that so many freshmen read news voluntarily.

And now I'm considering handing papers to Too Beautiful's class to see what happens, this time creating an experiment on purpose, and not just directed at Too Beautiful.

I have to remind myself that no one -- especially 18 year olds -- are exactly what they appear to be. I'm remembering the beautiful student from this past summer who wrote eloquently on how empty she feels when she's not in a relationship and then how empty she feels when she is. She doesn't look or act like someone who is "empty." But that's the exterior.

I don't know how to "make" someone curious. And I'm not sure yet if I have the right approach, but I'm thinking through some strategies for forcing Too Beautiful to be involved in spite of herself, because call me foolish but I think a pretty head ought to have something in it.


AMorris said...

Great post. I was taking some 200 level anthro classes a year or so ago and there were a couple of TBBIs in every class. I think that you just have to focus on helping the folks that really want to learn and screw the others. It's probably their parents' money anyway. You can't legislate smart - just like you can't make a TBBI become suddenly interested. Don't worry. Maybe they'll just wind up peeling to pay the rent in a few years anyway....

Bitty said...


(I tried to respond earlier and Blogger ate my comment!)

You're absolutely right. I had a deep need to vent that day.

This frustrates me in part because it was a struggle for me to get an education. I had the ability, but I also had a full-time job, three kids, and all the time and financial responsibilities that go along with that. So to watch someone be (it appears, anyway) handed the opportunity to do it the "eas[ier]" way and treat it like an interruption to the social schedule is frustrating.

You would not be surprised to hear that TBBI did not show up to do the in-class writing yesterday.


AMorris said...

No worries. You should try the haloscan comments stuff. It pretty much, to put in in TBBI speak, rocks. If you need help installing it, I'd be glad to help. It's got a wizard gadget that does it for you though.

I hear ya on the tough gig and no, I'm not surprised that she didn't show. Actually having to form a coherent thought, must've scared the crap out of her.

Bitty said...

My only concern about Haloscan is that here at the home computer I can't access comments for several of my favorite sites that use it, Sis's being one of them. I presume there's something about the settings that Norton's firewall doesn't like. On the other hand, I have no problem with other Haloscan-using sites, so there must be Something About Those Sites.

Is it that obvious that I'm technically challenged?