Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back Again...

Hah! Shit, font again...there we go. I know, I know---AGAIN? But who cares, it's my damn blog. It's been an interesting day, if a bit quiet. Lots more computer time than usual. Dunc' is home, as aforementioned, on Spring Break. We're both limited in activities since the weather went bi-polar on us.
     Oh. ha-ha. Unintended, but that was kind of funny, you have to admit. (it got freakishly cold, changeable...?) 
        I subscribed to someone else's---dammit! Why does that happen? I keep hitting the tab button. I think that's it. Subscribed to someone else's blog today; a person who seems interesting. We'll see how that goes.
     Well, this is supposed to have a purpose, so I'll work on that. Maybe more sophistication will develop with time. It's not like anyone is reading this, anyway, ha-ha.
     On the occasions I've taught, I haven't been very good at it. I'm Solitary, period. The ramifications of this fact should have been obvious from day one, but they weren't. What can I say? I love the idea of teaching; sharing what you've learned over the years, all your dumb-ass mistakes (especially your dumb-ass mistakes), the light in someone's eyes when they finally get it, and all the rest of that feel-good rhetoric. It's true. Teaching is great----when it's rewarding. The rest of the time it's a freakin' hassle: Deciding whether to adjust your own snobby attitude and dumb down the curriculum, or stick to impractical ideals rooted in Ego and choose to deny that wide-eyed Disney-esque student knowledge they could put to good use if it was altered to suit their...uuh, intellectual ability. And who am I to decide such a thing anyway? I have a high-school edumacation; I'm no genius or go-getter.
     So, after this recent epiphany about just being happy, I finally think "You know? Fuck it: I have some things to share. Some may find them of value." The only realistic way for me to do this is just blurt it out without being interrupted. 

     You Solitaries who choose to give in to pressure and teach? I advise:

1) Stop the give-aways before they start.

     I know--it's just an ink pen and a notebook, or a journal you aren't using. It won't hurt to let her copy a few pages out of your books; you have a copy machine after all and she's so broke? You grew a ton of that herb last year and she could use it. You really aren't USING those empty jars and s/he doesn't HAVE any.....
     ....blah, blah, blah. I know. I did the same thing, over and over again, then couldn't figure out why my students morphed into needy people who couldn't seem to figure anything out on their own, much less make an effort to help themselves. I'm not saying don't ever do it. I'm suggesting instead you offer a barter. I have this to give in exchange for__________. Let them make an offer. If your student isn't that Earthy or confident, a suggestion may be in order, and make sure you have a small box of things or gift-bag-full to send. In other words, one notebook or other item they need is going to be obvious and they'll feel like a charity case. The flip side of that is an otherwise nice person who is also perfectly willing to take from you. Forever. If they're still either shy or obtuse, mention casually that you have a box of stuff you can get rid of in exchange for whatever job or trade of your choosing, and do they know anyone who might be interested? Even the shyest, meekest person can't miss that. 

2) Don't change what comes naturally to you. 

     In other words, don't bother. The reason this person wants you to teach her/him is because of how you came across to them in the first place. They are willing to learn from you as-is or not. If not, then so be it. Don't dumb it down, don't change the order of what feels right to you, don't lessen requirements you believe are necessary; and DON'T let or expect the student lead, even if you are not a rigid individual and are not conferring "degrees". I did this too, thinking mistakenly that they would appreciate the freedom. They don't. People who approach someone for teaching either want the guidance, or they're after what they think is a quick-fix for their life. Either way, you find out quickly who is whom.

3) Lay it on the line from the get-go: "This is what I expect, period."

     Be specific, and try not to think about who you might be offending. Me, I've had to tell people (more than once) that personal hygiene is expected, and to what level. Don't think for a moment that you won't have to tell someone this at some point. I advise including that cleanliness in their environment is also expected, because sooner or later you will be in this person's home, but expect to help get it clean once. Don't be ridiculous in your demands; you aren't a dictator, after all. Just make your standards clear.


     You will not get them back, or in the same condition, and will garner resentment for asking for the items back. If you are a "nice person" who doesn't want to offend anyone, IE, You do not like confrontation--then Practice This Statement:  "Oh, I'm sorry....I keep my books here for study, but you are welcome to come read them here." When you get the hard-sell from someone who won't be nice back, then you say more firmly: "I'm sorry, that's just not something I do." And let the silence be awkward. You offered use of the books YOU bought, YOU paid for, and that is generous enough. Also, be firm about how the books are to be handled. Make a joke out of it if necessary. "I know I'm about to be a jerk, but no cheese puffs while you read, don't break the spines, fold pages, underline, highlight........" and so on. You'd be surprised what people will do if not told.  Personally, I am about to do a book round-up. One person has borrowed a few. I can trust her, but after all these years I'm still just uncomfortable with them being gone. Plus, some of your books may wind up going out of print and being unavailable. Do you want to spend a fortune replacing them? Or worse--not being able to? Don't do it. An offer to read is plenty generous enough.

This post will be continued when I move to another computer!

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