Saturday, June 06, 2009

June 6

The first thing I realized last night when I sat down to do the first lesson in my new Ed Psych book, was that textbook makers have gotten cheap since 1986. The font size is ridiculously small to begin with, and then when they make those little indented quote boxes, the font size drops to something subatomic.

I reluctantly pulled out my reading glasses. I realized I was probably going to have to wear these in my math classes, too--only there I’d be surrounded by 18 and 19 year olds. I made a mental note to color my hair again in the morning.

The second thing I realized as I tried to read 26 pages of size 10 font print, all written in a tone I usually associate with students who are trying to take up extra space in a term paper by using big words, was that there is no way I can do all my studying at home. Max’s cell phone kept going off as all of his friends who have cell phones gleefully texted the newest kid on the Verizon network (his birthday present from Grandma Gaye and both parents). Emily kept shoving the book out of the way with her nose in hopes of getting more scratches behind the ears. Ben and Milo were up and down the stairs wondering when they could have some ice cream, and Chris--well, it was Friday night. He thought maybe his wife might actually want to pay attention to him. She did, but she has four quizzes to take by Wednesday to catch up AND a grammar lesson due on Monday.

In the end, I did it. I read the first chapter, took the first quiz, and to my horror, scored 8 out of 10 on the quiz.

So this morning I got up, dyed my hair reddish-brown (it’s pretty heavily gray normally), frowned at the very gray parts which took the red more than the brown and hoped those would wash out quickly. Like, maybe tomorrow morning before I go visit my new niece. My brother won’t miss the opportunity to make fun of me if it doesn’t.

Then I dropped the kids off at my mom-in-law’s (Chris has a work meeting somewhere in Unionville) and hurried over to the law office. The IT guy has to install a new server anyway and someone needed to be here while he was doing that, so it’s worked out well. I’ve already got half the grammar assignment done.

Now I just need him to stay long enough for me to finish the grammar project and do another chapter of EdPsych. That would leave me only two more chapters to do at home. I need/want to get 10/10 on the three remaining quizzes. I’m just too competitive to let that 8/10 stand. The setup of the online courses takes complete advantage of this part of my nature. The very second you finish a quiz, it records your total grade for the class on a chart (since I’m 4 weeks behind in the course, I have a mighty 24% for a grade right now). Then, it records your quiz score (which it will average as I take more quizzes) on a graph that breaks down the total into quizzes, written assignments, and group projects (all of which, I suspect, weigh more heavily than these quizzes).

And in the background of the quiz there is a faint shaded area that tells you the average score of ALL the rest of the students in the class. My quiz score is 5 points lower than the average.

“Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (as Dexter of Dexter’s Laboratory would cry).

Oh. my. hizzle. Do they have my number. I have no choice but to do well in this class. (I wish Calculus was going to be like this, but if I’m reading the syllabus right, the entire score for the class is two midterms and a final. How’s that for sudden death?)

I will say this though. Yesterday afternoon I was musing over the fact that my normal emotions before the start of a new semester--as a student, back in the 1900’s--was a high level of excitement. I hated Ohio. I hated the rain and the constant cloud cover. I hated being stuck in Delaware, Ohio with no car--and in hindsight--I hated being stuck with my own undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder which meant I was even more angst-ridden and depressed than all the rest of the hormone-riddled students at Ohio Wesleyan. (Well, maybe not Scot. But he’s competitive that way. )

But I loved the start of every new semester. I loved new notebooks, highlighters, and pens. I loved taking notes in the margins of my books. Once I got good at it, I loved turning in papers early for early feedback which would lead to an inevitable A on the paper as the professor got exactly what it was they were looking for (and I didn’t have to work as hard to read their mind to figure out what that was. When you turn the paper in a week early, they just write what they think is missing in the margins. You spend 30 minutes revising the paper to add that and ta-da! an “A”.) I didn't sit in the front row, but I didn't sit in the back, either. Okay, sometimes I sat in the front row.

I’m being carried away by nostalgia. The point is that normally, the start of the semester anticipation is a good thing for me. This time it’s been forcing me to take high-doses of Zantac and Ativan. (srsly)

So I needed to do that first lesson last night in large part because I wanted the anticipation over with. I wanted to just start DOING the work. I wanted to be able to tell myself that I had begun, and lived to tell about it.

It’s kind of cheating because the Ed Psych is NOT where the ass-kicking will take place, but shut up. Don’t kill my buzz.

Okay, so I did. And I got that mediocre quiz score. And saw the class average. And saw that I was below the mark. And all of a sudden I felt great! The damn chart had thrown down the gauntlet and I couldn’t NOT pick it up.

I may still flunk out (of Matrices, most likely) in my first semester, but it won’t be for lack of trying. I think that was my biggest fear. That I would be so scared of going back into the arena that I would freeze and not do my best. So I’m not worried about that any more. The part of me that lives to break the curve is still there. I don’t know if she CAN break the curve any more. But I am vastly reassured that she is still willing to try. and try and try and try. Go me.

UPDATE: Quiz #2. 9/10. Dang!! And the question is so wrong!!! The right answer is right there in the section on contiguous conditioning and that wasn't one of the possible responses! Grrr. (But at least I'm not below class average any more. must keep studying. Must get bar line above grey shadow bar!!!)

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