Friday, May 30, 2008

How I came to C the light ...

School is over today for both my boys and my wife. She is more than ready to relinquish her teaching duties for a few months and they are eager to spend their days chasing lizards and swimming. I'm happy for them and I will get to spend more time with my family which is a good thing, but my writing time will suffer as it does every year when the days get longer and it is much easier to hang go fishing or hang out outside.

Yesterday, I went to my boys school awards assembly. That got me to thinking about my old school days. Particularly when one boy got an award and the teacher joked that he would be the perfect student of only she could read his writing.

No one ever confused me for the perfect student, I found my way into too much trouble for that to ever be the case, but I did make good grades throughout and I think most of my teachers liked me. Of course one or two did not, and the most adamant of those was my forth grade teacher, Mrs. McCarthy. Given the laws of nature I feel fairly confident she is no longer with us so I don't worry too much about her reading this and tracking me down to stand above me with that disapproving frown I saw so often my fourth grade year.

Even in Mrs. McCarthy ... (oh, how I wish that would have been Jenny McCarthy) Sorry got distracted. Anyway even though Mrs. McCarthy found fault with my tendency to talk in class or clown around with my buddies I still made all A's and B's, mostly A's I might add. Except in one subject -- Handwriting.

Now I'll be the first to admit, a recovering heroin addict in day three of the shakes, could write more legibly driving down a pothole-filled gravel road than me. Doctors look at my markings and ask, "What the hell does this say?" I haven't written a word in cursive in years since I can't even read it, but all that aside most of my teachers in the past would give me at least a B- so that I could attend the A/B honor roll functions. They basically threw me a bone since I kicked butt in my other subjects. But not Mrs. McCarthy. She gave me a big fat C every six weeks so as we were approaching the end f the year I had not attended a single pizza and coke party with the other burgeoning geniuses of my school.

I lobbied my position and cruel Mrs. McCarthy said, "I'll give you a B when you actually deserve a B."

Ouch.

That's when fate stepped in and helped me out. Or so I thought.

My mom was and is a hairdresser so I spent lots of times in the presence of gossipy old ladies, hairspray and perm solution fumes, and bobbie pins. A young boy can oly watch so mnay ladies get their hair curled before he looks for diversions. After a while even Red book and Better Home and Gardens start to look good. One day while flipping through the girly mags (no not those kind, actual mags that pandered the the thoughts and ideas of middle aged women -- maybe that's where my whole thing with women's fiction started?) I'm wandering again so back to the story.

I don't recall the magazine but I came across an article that said a recent study claimed that those with high I.Q.s often had losuy penmanship because their brain worked faster than their hand. I snuck over to my mom's station, nabbed her hair sheers when she wasn't looking and clipped the piece out. Not even Mrs. McCarthy could doubt science.

I presented the article to her the very next day. A B heck, I figured she woud be duty bound to give me an A after reading the info. I had the worst handwriting in the class that had to mean I was the smartest kid there, right? Of course, Mrs. McCarthy had the prettiest handwriting I'd ever seen. That could only mean she wasn't all that bright, right?

Actually, I think that's where I went wrong in my presentation. In hindsight, that last little bit of logic probably wasn't the best thing to close my argument with. That six weeks I got my first ever D.


So tell me what kind of student were you? What is the story behind your worst grade ever?

33 comments:

Monnik said...

Travis, this is why I *know* you are going to get published someday soon:

"a recovering heroin addict in day three of the shakes, could write more legibly driving down a pothole-filled gravel road than me."

Holy cow, that's a great sentence!

I was a great student. Mostly As a few Bs. And I have very lovely handwriting.. Hmmmm...

Melissa Marsh said...

LOL! A D...I can't believe she did that to you! Still, it's pretty funny.

I was a good student in high school - didn't do anything wrong, always got good grades, etc. Then, as my father says, "All hell broke loose" when I went to college. And it is there that I got my first C and my first and last D. The D was for a zoology class. What I was thinking to take ZOOLOGY instead of the really easy biology, I'll never know, but I did. The first test we had, I aced it. But after that, it was a downhill slide. I am convinced, to this day, that the ONLY reason I got a D and not an F in that class was because I gave the male teacher a very nice smile when I handed in my final. (Just a smile, nothing else!). It might have had a bit of quiver behind it, maybe even some wet eyes for dramatic effect. He must have taken pity on me because he at least passed me.

Patti said...

i was a solid C student mostly because i as too busy with living to study.

and HA! i have been using that same article about penmanship my entire life! seriously...

jjdebenedictis said...

Great story! Definitely should have left out that last bit of logic, though.

My worst grade came in university: 50%. Thermodynamics. Nasty, nasty subject with partial derivatives a-splodin all over the place.

But I tell you, never have I been so thrilled to get such a lousy grade; I was practically capering down the hallways, clicking my four-colour keener pens like maraccas, when I found out I had passed the course.

In my defence, the class average was 54%. The instructor was not a man who believed in grading on a curve.

Sizzle said...

I had very high marks in penmanship. I loved cursive writing. I was such a geek. Ha.

Charles Gramlich said...

Well, looks like you lived my childhood. I remember going sometimes to the "beauty" shop with my mom and reading the magazines, or going outside and playing with acorns.

In school I got "A's" and "B's," except in penmanship, where I often got "D's" and usually got "C's." I got two D's in penmanship and got punished by my father who made me write for hours after each time. I think that only made it worse. It really wasn't that I wasn't trying, only that I simply have horrible handwriting. I still do today. In fact, I seldom actualy write out more than the first couple of letters of my last name and then just make a squiggle. When I try to write longhand when I'm away from my computer, I can only read it if I go very quickly to a computer. If I wait more than a few hours it becomes like trying to decipher heiroglyphics.

Stephen Parrish said...

My daughter is left handed and struggles to write clearly. Unfortunately she's still at a stage where penmanship is graded, and the poor grades she receives demoralize her.

I tell her not only are her penmanship grades of no consequence, neither are her other grades, at least in the long run. Because a grade is one person's evaluation of your work. And if you go through life trying to appease those individuals in a position to evaluate you, you will have good grades and little else.

Elaine Will Sparber said...

I started out with great handwriting and slowly deteriorated to chicken scratch over the years. Does that mean I've become smarter in my old age?

I've actually been trying to improve my cursive the past few months. I've been printing everything the past 10 years or so just so I'd be able to read what I wrote. There are few things more frustrating than making a note to yourself to remember something really vitally earth-shatteringly important and then not being able to decipher it!

I love the heroin addict driving over the potholes image.

blogless troll said...

Like Charles, my parents made me "practice" at home when I got Cs in penmanship, but it didn't stick. I can write down one or two words in semi-readable script. Anything more than that and it's just wasting ink.

March to the Sea said...

average student at best. looking back I wish I was more "serious". I got by, graduated on time..but could have tried a little more for sure.

bookbabie said...

Cute story! I was a good student with decent handwriting, actually my printing was better than my script. The only subject I didn't do well in was chemistry. I was okay with the labs but tanked on the written tests. The frustrating thing was I often thought I "got it" and did well, only to get the tests back usually with a big red "D" on them. I married a science guy and we now own a water treatment chemical company, needless to say he's the brains behind the business, I just cash the checks:)

spyscribbler said...

Oh, wow, *cringe*! Funny story, but man ...

Makes me wonder why they grade penmanship, of all things. I always wondered why they teach cursive. I mean, what for? I print. The only thing I write in cursive is my signature. My printing is really neat, but I like things clear.

I don't really print anymore, either. I just type everything.

Marla said...

Enjoy hanging out with the kids! It does not last forever and they will not want to be seen with you.;)

I was an excellent student and got good grades but had a wild side. I just never got caught.

My worst grade was an F in Geometry. The teacher hated me and I hated him. He called me names and made my life hell. I took it during summer school and got an easy A. Ugh!

Clair Dickson said...

I've got fairly legible handwriting, actually. Not pretty or loopy. It's an efficient hybrid of connected letters (not cursive but not quite printing.)

I was always a good student. Nearly straight A's except first semester of Junior year. I'd missed too many days so they dropped all my A's to B's. So I quit high school... and went to college instead. Now *I'm* a teacher... and I hate reading most of the kid's handwriting!

Brooke said...

I too was a victim of poor penmanship! As a first grader, which I still think is grossly unfair, I received a D in penmanship...I mean lord, I was six years old, how well are you supposed to print?

My teacher's name was Ms. Fine and she would later be institutionalized for locking a kid in the closed but that's another story...I remember her telling me that I made my B's too big (too big for what? I can't help but wonder...) and that since my first and last names both started with a B I would have to learn to do it right.

I don't know...I am married, a mother and I have a degree in psychology...and I still make a big B. Least I didn't get thrown into the nuthouse for child abuse.

Maybe her B's were a little too small.

Lisa said...

Worst grade? Dateline: 1975 and it's my freshman year in high school. Our history teacher gets into a terrible car accident and breaks both legs. We get a substitute teacher, fresh out of school named Mr. LaFreniere, who immediately became Mr. La Furry Ears. Sadly, he was woefully ill-equipped to deal with our rowdy class. The class mainly goofed around, didn't do his assignments or study for his quizzes, although we failed to realize he was going to be a LONG term substitute and grade us. What was worse, I had a huge crush on the bad boy of the class, Michael Zino. He sat right next to me and I was entranced by his clever wisecracks, devilish good-looks and 70's white boy 'fro. Alas, it was all fun and games until the "warning cards" were sent home. I ended up bringing my failing grade to a D by the time report cards came out and I was grounded until the NEXT report card came out. :)

Linda McLaughlin said...

Great story, Travis. Mrs. McCarthy sounds like a real stickler. My handwriting teacher, Mrs. Williams, was, too. I always got C's in handwriting, but I think everyone else did, too, lol. My worst grades were in P.E. where they never gave you less than a C, no matter how coordinated you were. Oh, in college I got a C in Philosophy. (I was too literal minded for that particular subject.)

Congratulations to your son on his award.

Linda

Sherry/Cherie said...

You a class clown type?!? I'm shocked!! lol!!

But I love your theory on the handwriting and genius - sorry the teacher didn't agree!!

I was your average to above average student. Quiet and withdrawn/shy until about grade 9 or 10 and then I started using philosophy and thinking and debating. Late bloomer!

My worst mark ever was on a math test were I got a zero -- I could not do problems to save my life -- even with tutoring, I manaaged to pass that part of the subject but it just turned me off....I can't stand any of those brain teaser things that are problems - if a train is going east and 60 mps...as soon as I hear that -- down go the shutter and I shut the bolt home...blah. I mean, who cares and in the scheme of the whole world, does it really have any significance?!? ;)

WordVixen said...

Bwahahahah! Of course, I can't fault you for actually saying things like that since I'm known for doing the exact same thing. Lordy, telling a man who just shaved off his mustache that no one looks good in a mustache, so keep it off only to realize that the freaking president of the company who had a mustache was standing behind me, and one of the sweetest guys ever was standing off to the side.... and he also had a mustache. Yikes!

Though, the president is clean shaven now. Hmmm.

Handwriting and grammar were always my two worst subjects as well. Though, even when I did well and paid close attention to the letters, I still got lousy grades in the handwriting department. That's probably why I stopped caring soon after- it didn't matter if I tried or not.

Lana Gramlich said...

As a child prodigy, I was an excellent student early on. School officials wanted me to start in 2nd grade, but my parents didn't want my brother to get a complex. They also said I could start taking a foreign language 2 years early, which my parents vetoed for the same reason. After dad died my life turned completely upside down & not only did my grades suffer, I almost didn't graduate from high school. Ironically, my brother's turned out to be the "success" if you use the usual, societal guidelines. Nice to see my brilliance didn't give him a complex, after all. *snort*
The story behind my worst grades are basically that I couldn't handle the constant abuse at school (or at home,) so I snuck out every day & not only got "F"s, but I was forced to drop out for a semester, lest they kick me out of school altogether for non-attendance. Public school was hell. I'd never go to a reunion, but if I did, I'd bring an AK-47 & hollow point bullets. Erm...end rant.

Barrie said...

I was a good student. I also had/still have lousy handwriting. But I don't think it's a sign of genius. Just poor fine motor skills. Seriously, I was the kid in first grade who couldn't hang onto a pencil the right way.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I was a slacker, but my grades were good. Mainly because even though I never turned in my homework, I aced the tests. *shrug* I can't remember the worst grade I got in secondary or elementary. I think it must've been Algebra. I stank at Algebra. In college, the worst grade I got was in an elective class I never should've taken and spent most of the time sleeping through. The prof's voice was soooo soothing and his words were soooo boring.

Josephine Damian said...

The older I get the worse my handwriting gets. When I sold my last house, I tried to transfer the money to a different bank - I signed a paper - they said, that's not you - signature don't match.

I said I had ID. They did not care since signature did not match. They showed me original signature card. I said, Wow! Who signed that? It was that different. Finally I found a manager who recognized me as me, and they let me have my dough.

Anyway, I did well in subjects I liked, but sucky in subjects I hated - math especially. In HS I failed chemistry (basically math disguised as science) and had to take it over again. In the summer! Pure hell!

In grad school I barely survived statitical analysis - thanks God that class is behind me.

Erica Orloff said...

Gosh, Travis . . . I laughed out loud!!!! Great one!

I skipped a couple of grades (including my senior year of high school), and had the ol' straight-A average. Got an academic scholarship to university. My handwriting was and is total crap. Apparently, I am a recovering heroin addict in day 3 driving down a pot-hole filled gravel road.

LOL!
E

angel, jr. said...

I was an A/B student. I don't really remember getting a really bad grade, except for when I was lazy and didn't study. But my overall grades usually kept my average from dipping.

angel, jr. said...

I just realized that I'm boring.

Lana Gramlich said...

FYI, you've won one of my birding books! E-mail your address to ljackman@email.com & I'll get your prize out to you ASAP. Congratulations!

pattinase (abbott) said...

A 48 in Algebra II. It wasn't till thirty years later that I found out how algebra worked, and from a teacher who didn't say, "girls are never good at math."

pattinase (abbott) said...

Travis-Expect to have My Town Detroit tomorrow.

Bina said...

Wow! What a biotch! I could never understand how you can be graded on hand writing. Everyone's is different! It's a matter of opinion, isn't it?

I was an average studant. If I liked a subject I got an A, otherwise it was usually a C. My mother NEVER EVER cared about our school or our grades. I never did homework, and she never asked if I had any and she never asked to see my report cards. In college, I had a 3.86 GPA, because I cared!!!! LOL

Mom In Scrubs said...

I slid through high school with A's and rarely studied. So I thought I could do the same in college. Uh, Wrong!

I got an F in a 5 credit Physics class because I figured I didn't need to actually GO to the class, since I had gotten an A in high school Physics.

BTW my handwriting is average. I kind of like it - it's ME!

Merry Monteleone said...

I'm playing catchup with blog posts instead of, you know, sleeping or such frivolities... this cracked me up.

My daughter's handwriting is about the worst I've ever seen, and mine was actually pretty bad as a kid, but hers takes the cake... she's in fourth grade now... well, until thursday when summer starts... and she couldn't care less about it - I don't even think she tries anymore, she just kind of says, "Mom, it's just handwriting... it's not like I had the wrong answer" - her intelligence isn't at all in question... She also wouldn't mind missing a pizza party if it meant she didn't have to sit still for too long trying to make the perfect loop in her letters... yet she's still on the honor roll...

Richard said...

I was a student who loved to learn and continue to love to learn. I was also mostly bored out of my skull and indulged myself by not paying attention in class and focussing on daydreams.

Academically I was an above average student, but never honours. I was too inconsistent across subject matters. I would excel in some subjects and trundle along in others. The general consensus among teachers was that I did not apply myself to my full potential - though I was never a troublesome, nor struggling student.

I didn't discover what homework was until college (prior to that I always did my work at the last minute in class, at recess or between classes). This was not unique to me, my high school sucked and pretty much everyone was shocked to discover "homework" when they went to college.

My worst grade was 30% on a midterm in the Winter (2nd) semester of my first year at college in a course on circuit theory. It was pretty demoralizing, I considered dropping out of electronics, however, I stuck it through, started to (shock) study and learned (though not very well) that (sometimes) you need to do more than occasionally show up for class to learn something.