Monday, November 16, 2015

Rubric, Schmubric!


I'm not entirely sure this is a parody. 


I just received a text from a woman who was my middle school counselor and who worked in the district office with my mom in our previous town. She wasn't  my personal counselor or anything like that. For that matter, I do not recall her ever once counseling me except maybe for the time she had cafeteria duty and she told me I was wasting food because I threw away what she said was a perfectly good apple. Perhaps that would be considered counseling. I just thought she was being a busybody.

The woman was soon thereafter promoted from being a middle school counselor to being a district English curriculum director. What I and probably everyone else remember most about her was that when she came to our high school to model or critique lessons for English teachers, her favorite word was rubric. The woman wanted to create a rubric for every stinking thing under the sun. Does one really need to consult a rubric to know if he or she has a sunburn? I don't know about the rest of you, but if I've been in the sun and my skin looks red and hurts, I probably have a sunburn. If it's not and it doesn't, I probably don't have a very significant sunburn no matter what the damned rubric has to say about the matter.

Some kids eventually started calling this woman "Rubric Head." That was after my friend Brendan said that if she were to have another baby (she already had five kids; I don't know if she had another child or not after that) it would almost certainly be named Rubric. With high school students' typical difficulties in keeping their mouths shut about anything, someone told her what Brendan had said. She looked hurt, but she didn't stop saying "rubric" roughly once for every nine other words that came out of her mouth. My friend Nate said that when she was getting frisky with her husband or her trainer at the gym or with whomever was her main squeeze, she probably called out "rubric" at the moment of climax --  either that or she scored her partner's performance after each act of coitus based on a rubric she had created.

My dad had to work with Rubric Head on a joint parent/teacher/administrator task force established for the purpose of  selecting exemplar writing samples for each possible score on district writing benchmark exams. My dad couldn't have been much less interested in the committee's task at hand if the committee's defined purpose had been created based solely on what my dad had said would be terminally boring to him personally. He was on the task force because no one else would sign up,  so my mom volunteered him. It was one of the times I feared my parents might divorce. In the end, my dad dealt with the issue by downing two rum and cokes before he showed up for each of the four meetings of the task force.

I heard from on of my teachers who was also on the committee that a particular  writing sample was distributed for scoring. The particular piece of high school student work had no paragraphs, no punctuation or capitalization, atrocious spelling, nonexistent sentence structure, and didn't come close to addressing the assigned topic. My dad and several others instantly gave the sample a "1," which was the lowest possible score. Rubric Head immediately rebuked them all for failing to consult the rubric before determining the score. My dad, whose inhibitions may or may not have been diminished by alcohol consumption, countered her objections with, "Rubric, shmubric! I don't need to consult a God-damned rubric to recognize a piece of shit when I see it!"

The district superintendent reportedly muttered, upon witnessing the interaction,  that Rubric Head probably couldn't force herself to flush a toilet after using it until she rubricked the toilet's contents to ascertain that what was inside was, indeed, urine or fecal matter [though he didn't say "urine" or "fecal matter"]. My mother was mortified to learn the next day of my dad's outburst the night before, but everyone else I knew who either witnessed it or heard about it sympathized with my dad.

Anyway, cutting to the chase, Rubric Head is in town and wants to have dinner with my brother and me tomorrow night. I would have loved to make excuses except that A) my mom is already a bit irritated with me and B) Rubric Head is taking us to a really great restaurant. Matthew wanted to send in his place a guy named Emil from out cohort who looks like him and who will do anything for food. The only problem with Matthew's plan is that Emil is from the Basque region of France and has a fairly strong accent. Matthew is going to have to come to the Rubric Head  dinner with me. I told him we can decompress afterward by rubricking the whole experience.

We're going.  We may be expected to rubric the waiters, the meal itself, the quality of the toilet paper in the restaurant's bathrooms, and God knows what else.  I may need Prozac before the night is over.









11 comments:

  1. Prozac would do you no good. It takes weeks to work.

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    1. You're right. i probably need a benzo.

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  2. I had not heard of the word rubric before. Is this one of those times when your parents are considering divorce? You have been talking about your mother disagreeing with you, but not your father. Also maybe your mother is taking out on you, what stress she is experiencing with your father.

    English teachers (you can ask Rubric Head about this at dinner) like to say that mad does not mean angry. It means insane. But doesn't angry mean insane also. Can't a guy get angry and kill his friend and spend his life in prison? That is insane. Anger is not a sane emotion. Your mother is angry with you so she is temporarily insane.

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    1. My mom is probably simultaneously angry, mad, and insane, temporarily or otherwise, but she and my father are not, to the best of my knowledge, contemplating divorce at this time. The one other time (besides the rubric time) that my parents seemed to me to be on the verge of divorce was the time the night before we were tented for termites when my mother was trying to make Chex party mix for my grandmother with all of the ingredients stored at different neighbors' houses.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. People do become obsessed with the strangest things. Rubrics ... hmmm.

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  5. I would definitely start medicating before dinner. Let Matthew be the responsible one.

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  6. "Put the cork back on the fork!" Oh, that was Ruprecht. Never mind...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUiXJ4ZIOEE

    la perla

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    1. Great movie! it would make more sense to be obsessed with Ruprecht than with rubrics.

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  7. I have a challenge for you, Alexis. I posted this on FB awhile back. Can you identify the instruments in it? I think that the first 2 are a bass and a cello. I think that the 4th and 5th are violins but you are the expert! Also I think you will enjoy it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBaHPND2QJg

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    1. It starts with a bass and a cello. A bassoon comes next. Then comes two violas, Then a couple of violins join. I can't remember the order after that, but they are joined by french horns, trombones, trumpets or cornets, clarinets, flutes, and I think an oboe, in addition to the singers.

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