Even When it Didn't Work it Worked
One of the more distinctive posts came from RD who responded to a thread on how much work ethic and "natural genius" contribute to academic success with the parable of the furry bunny, PookyBuns. Given the idiosyncracy of the post, we reproduce it in its entirety below.
As instructors, we were particularly drawn to this post for its interesting and subtle meta-commentary which in some ways critiques class requirements as meaningless or trivial. But it performs this critique while referencing class readings and performing those very requirements. Its stark transitions call attention to its own ironic enactment of being a good PookyBuns. As we will discuss later, this student's dedication to the forum project clearly evidences that he does care about these issues.
Dumb People Can Work Hard Too
Sit down, grab some hot chocolate, and enjoy this adorable story about a furry bunny named PookyBuns.
It was a cold winter's night, winds gusting and snowflakes twirling through the moonlit sky, and PookyBuns was hard at work. His study was cluttered with books, notes, computers, flashcards, and of course, carrots. Hour after hour, he reviewed his homework, hoping desperately to succeed at his high school, Romaine Rabbit High. You see, PookyBuns did rather poorly in school, and other little bunnies made fun of him saying things like, "PookyBuns, you're a dummy; you'll never be smart," but he was determined to prove them wrong once and for all!
Night after night, his little bunny paws would flip through each textbook chapter, as his eyes scanned the words diligently. He even met every Tuesday and Thursday with his tutor, Billy Bunny, so he could try and better understand the material. His work ethic was impeccable! He was certain he would show those others bunnies who was boss...
The day of the annual Romaine Rabbit High Testout Exam, PookyBuns was ready for action. He even dressed up nicely for the occasion. (His mommy told him it might help improve his score) So there he was, in the exam hall, pencil in hand, and bubble sheet in tact. GO!
Four hours later, PookyBuns was exhausted, and quite uncertain whether or not he had accomplished his goal. Biting his whiskers, he marched...well hopped...all the way home to check his score online.
"Dear PookyBuns, we're sorry to inform you that you received a 27% on your Testout Exam. Despite your flawless work ethic, you are a complete imbecile and will be known as 'Little Bunny Bologna Brains' from now on. We apologize that you lack potential and any natural talent whatsoever.
Love, Romaine Rabbit High"
Moral of this story: Natural ability outweighs work ethic. (Which is why I don't have ripped abs...I used to workout nonstop trying to tone my body, but gave up because I was enlightened that I was meant to be a fat cow. The people with natural body builds can have ripped abs...not fair, I know, but true.)
Now that that's out of my system, let's talk about the reading...I'll start with the most important part of the whole thing, vocabulary:
1. Solipsism - sol·ip·sism n
-the belief that the only thing somebody can be sure
of is that he or she exists, and that true knowledge
of anything else is impossible
2. Pusillanimity - pusillanimity
-ignoble lack of courage
3. Vociferously - vo·cif·er·ous adj
-shouting in a noisy and determined way
-characterized by noisy and determined shouting
4. servile - ser·vile adj
-too willing to agree with somebody or to do
-demeaning thing somebody wants
relating to dirty degrading work that is considered
-fit only for servants or enslaved laborers
relating to enslaved labor or the condition of
Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
See, don't we all feel smarter? Ok, now on to some substance...Henry and Edmundson seem to think we're all getting dumber/lazier/more useless. My favorite quote is Henry's, "In the real world, though, mostly they go to college to make money." My response? "Duh." And Edmundson's stunning line, "They won't talk about how the exigencies of capitalism lead to a reserve army of the unemployed and nearly inevitable misery." Again, "Duh." Maybe it's because I'm ignorant too, but I think these guys are overanalyzing the situation. So what if mankind is in its downfall and we're all going to suffer a slow painful death? I don't care, and I have a feeling that a lot of people my age don't care. If anything, this reading is making me care less, and I don't care.
I don't care,
Unfortunately, only one person responded to the thread—and that was an instructor. What surprised all three of us, however, was that in our next class sections nearly every student had read the post. Although it might not have a quantifiable reputation (in terms of responses), it had clearly attracted significant attention. And, as instructors, we were able to translate the uniqueness of this response into a learning opportunity. Even when posts didn't generate the kind of discussion we imagined, it still generated something positive and unexpected.