Friday, March 05, 2010
7:18 PM | Posted by Wide Lawns | | Edit Post
I am an expert on marijuana. I know everything about it. I know how to grow it, where to grow it, things you can make out of it, how to cook with it, the countries it's legal in, the countries it's not legal in, how they have pot cafes in Holland. I know where it was first cultivated and smoked and its medicinal uses and how Rastafarians use it as part of their religion. I can tell you all about the marijuana clinics in California, medical marijuana, non-violent drug offenders in prison for marijuana. I know even more about the movement to legalize marijuana. I am a veritable weed genius.
Did I get this way because I smoke? NO. Am I some kind of marijuana aficionado? Most certainly not. How then, am I such an expert on all things cannabis? Because my students will not stop writing papers about it. The same papers about it, for that matter.
This is my third year teaching college composition and without fail, in every single class I have the same exact student who writes the same exact weed paper every single semester, over and over and over. It's like I'm grading papers in that movie "Groundhog Day."
Sometimes I'll have three or four carbon copies of that same student all in one class. They're all the same. Sure, maybe one will be taller or shorter, maybe a different race, though usually they're white males. I've had the student appear as the occasional female though too. Once in a while, the pot head student is African American or Hispanic, but less often. No matter what physical form the student takes, he or she is still the same.
This student lives to get high. He loves getting high so much that he can't come to class without being stoned out of his mind. Then, when he gets to class, he doodles marijuana leaves on his notebook cover. Usually though, he doesn't have a notebook or a pen, so he borrows a pen from a classmate and proceeds to sketch pot leaves on his jeans, his bare skin, the desk top or the soles of his shoes. Sometimes he will embellish the sketch with a bad rendering of Bob Marley's profile, maybe some flames, a bong or some joins. Particularly adept sketchers graduate from doodling the simple leaves to the more complex buds. Those who aren't such great artists will opt instead to just write synonyms for marijuana, both slang and otherwise on any blank space where cannibis sativa, hemp power, weed, bud etc. will fit.
As a teacher, I have to be careful what words I use, in whatever context. Joint (as in pain), roll, smoke, high, blunt, weed (as in plants in the yard), bake, bud etc. will all elicit reactions which can vary between secret "in the know" snickers and Beavis and Butthead like comments of "dude she said blunt" huh huh huh, to all out enthusiastic high fives.
Everything is about getting high. There's no other point to life for these students. Why they even come to class at all is beyond me. It really is, because they never, ever hand anything in and if we do group work in class, they look blankly around, stare at the ceiling and then tell me they have a sudden doctor's appointment and have to leave. This is after they've arrived to class anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes late already. Yet still they come.
I think they're waiting for my last assignment, the argument paper involving research. See, my other papers are more along the lines of personal essays on varying topics, but the argument paper, I generally let them choose. The stoner student lives for this assignment. This is where they can write the pot paper. Or rather, steal the pot paper off the Internet and proudly turn it in as their own. I catch a lot of my pot heads plagiarizing. Some of them are smarter than others and, because of their ardor for THC, they'll actually sit down and for the first time write me an impassioned, detailed and thoroughly knowledgeable essay on why marijuana must be made legal immediately. The papers are never that good and they all use the same top 3 Google search results as sources, so they're all, as I said earlier, exactly the same. But still. And the saddest part of all is that every single one of the students who writes (or steals) this paper, thinks they are so original and that they are the only person clever enough and brave enough to take on the man and the establishment of stuffy old English professors and write about something as subversive as smoking pot. Like no one else ever thought of this before them and it's as if they enrolled in college just so they could write this paper. I can just imagine them sitting in high school day dreaming about the day they graduate so they can go on to college and write a paper all about pot. Because, dude man, you can DO that in college and they can't suspend you or anything. It's like freedom of speech or something. (That myth is right up there with the one about how in college you don't have to go to class. You just have to take the tests.)
Last semester I had a stoner who liked literature. He liked reading, but he only read Hunter S. Thompson, because dude, he like DID DRUGS and wrote about it and I guess there's nothing cooler than that. I explained to him that writers doing drugs and writing about it didn't end in the 60s and that he should check out some more contemporary stuff. Or how about some cool post-modern writers who are just as trippy as Thompson, without having to resort to hallucinogenics to find their imaginations? I tried to turn him to some cooler stuff than that same old, hackneyed Beat shit the stoner students love because someone told them it had drugs in it. I mean, some of that stuff is great, but it's not great just because it has drugs, you know?
Anyway, this student attempted to write all of his papers about smoking weed. His personal essay was about how he had no motivation and no job and his greatest joy was smoking weed. The Process paper was about how to roll a joint and the Compare/ Contrast involved the pros and cons of two different varieties of bud. I kept making him redo the papers with more appropriate topics, but he just loved to write about getting high and didn't care. I had the students then write a paper about plagiarism and guess what he wrote in his paper? I kid you not, he wrote about how he has a lucrative business selling essays to other students so he can get drug money. Can you get any dumber than that - than admitting in writing to a teacher that you write and sell papers so you can buy a quarter? Good Lord, I tell you.
I have a student now who is a laughingstock. He fits all of the above profile. I had to take him aside and talk to him about consistently coming to class stoned to oblivion. I explained to him that my class is so short that surely he can wait until AFTER class to get high, that way he's more fully present and engaged in learning. I also said that if you can't wait an hour to get stoned, then maybe you want to take a good look at yourself and realize that you could have a really serious drug addiction.
"But Miss," he said, "You don't understand. I'm not getting high before class."
We went round and round for a moment on this one.
"I'm not saying I'm not getting high. I AM getting high, just not before class."
I asked him to explain because this made no sense.
"I get high when I wake up in the morning. It's just really good weed Miss."
Yeah, I gotta love my job. At least he gets points for honesty, right?
And this semester I've banned the pot essay on the grounds that it's just unoriginal and cliche and too easy to steal. Let's see what happens and what they come up with to write about with their favorite option gone. What's left in their worlds without weed?
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