Back to School

12 May

Hey, guess who started summer classes last night?

I’m taking a class in Canadian Literature this summer. My ultimate goal is to get into teacher’s college, but with the degree I have (a measly 3 year psychology degree), I don’t have all the necessary prerequisites. So it’s back to undergrad life for the next year or two while I get all the credits I need.

So how did it go, you might be wondering. Considering the fact that I just barely graduated high school, took two years off, then returned to college (dropping out once before returning to finish the job), then went to university and checked out a year early because I felt too scared to attempt a thesis, then took another year and a half off? (This all just goes to show, I don’t exactly have the greatest track record where school is concerned.) Um… it went okay, I guess.

The course itself looks pretty good. I’m excited to start my readings and the assignments aren’t terribly daunting. It’s the professor I’m not so keen on. He strikes me as the sort of person who confuses sarcasm with wit. Although I can be ruthlessly sarcastic at times, sarcasm remains one of my least favourite qualities in a human being and I’m constantly trying to beat it out of myself. I suppose it has its time and place, but I just can’t ever get on board with sarcastic professors. Not to mention, listening to the lecture was like watching an episode of Gilmore Girls. He talks ten thousand miles per minute and drops all sort of reference-bombs, except in this case it’s obscure nihilistic philosophers instead of random pop culture factoids.

That’s another characteristic I dislike in professors. Making the assumption that we all know exactly what they’re talking about. It always struck me as such a strange assumption to make, because if I was already an expert in the field, why would I be taking the class? Some professors treat their classes a little too much like discussions and not enough like lessons, which I’m afraid might be the case here. It’s probably fine for all the other students in the room, all of whom seem to be second-to-fourth-year English majors… but for the 28 year old former psychology student, it’s all a bit confounding.

The worst of it is that I’m now feeling very insecure about my grammar. Fun fact: I never learned grammar in any formal way. Call it a failure of the Ontario public school system in the 1980s, but the most extensive education I ever received in grammar was the “grammar minute” we did in grades 7 and 8 before starting the “real” class. Our teacher would post grammatically incorrect statements on the blackboard, and students would volunteer to correct the errors. If you got it right, you could come up and take a “goody” (candy or gum). Unfortunately, she never explained the various components of language and sentence structure, she merely left us to our own devices to figure out what was wrong. I consider myself a strong writer, but any skill or talent that I have is the direct result of learning to read young, and consuming a lot of books as a child. Reading a lot gives you an inherent sense of what sounds right and what sounds wrong when you’re writing. It does not however, generally teach you the mechanics of good grammar. This is probably the reason why I’ve never been able to make much progress in the study of foreign languages. I can memorize the alphabet and basic vocabulary words, but once you start talking participles and clauses, I’m out.

So… yeah. I’m not going into details here, but it was a vaguely embarrassing first class that certainly shook my confidence and made me question what the hell I was doing there. I’ll stick it out, quite frankly because I have no choice. Hopefully tomorrow’s class will be better.

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One Response to “Back to School”

  1. Adam M May 14, 2010 at 3:02 am #

    I took English in University before dropping out and believe me NO ONE there has any education in grammar, even second and third-year English students.

    You’re all set.

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