500 Words At A Time: The Nature Of Manure

Define manure. Don’t worry this will all make sense. Are you sure of your definition?

I have a lot of positives to write about the professors who I have interacted with at Ferris State University and I will be writing about them. In fact, over five years, there have only been four what I would call negative encounters with professors. Of those four,

  • I think one professor is at the wrong University-excellent professor, wrong college, if that makes sense.
  • One professor was a personality conflict, I have heard from sources I trust that the professor is very good at the subject, unfortunately we did not get along.
  • Another professor was not ready to teach the subject and I happened to be ready, this is a whole other 500 Words At A Time.
  • The last professor was my first and funniest negative encounter of them all.

The class was a 300 level English course. I had just learned that the serial or Oxford comma was a thing. Seriously, it is a thing, unless you are a journalism major and then it is an optional thing. More than anything, I was geeked to be able to write something other than papers about this or that. Speaking of that, writing about topics not of interest to you WILL be the number one assignment you get, so get used to it.

“There will be weekly spelling tests.”

I started laughing. Sitting in the back of the class, where I usually sit, I laughed out loud. I honestly thought the professor was joking. This is a 300 level English composition course, spelling should be assumed. I am a horrible speller, but I understand and value good spelling. Thus, a spelling test seemed funny to me because at this level you should either know how to spell or where to find how to spell what you want.

“There will be weekly definition tests.”

More laughter from me. Again, I thought the professor was joking and for the same reasons as the spelling tests. I am all for expanding the lexicon, but definition tests where words are assigned and the only thing we have to do is memorize the definition is not as useful as assignments making use of those words. Hell, toss in the spelling words for added value.

“There will be weekly sentence analysis.”

Not rhetorical analysis, but please identify the noun, the verb, and the adjective. Nothing more complex than that either. Again, I laughed, yes for that class I was that student, but in my defense this is stuff I expect out of grade, middle, highschool and introductory level classes. Then I stopped laughing…

Not because the professor gave me any looks, but because the professor wrote on the blackboard, “The black cat vigorously jumped onto the brown kitchen table” and asked, what is the noun. Silence. Lots of silence. Okay, so maybe the professor was onto something.

Six weeks in and I am frustrated with this class. I have yet to pass a definition test. How hard can looking up definitions be you are say? Here is the definition that broke the camel’s back:

Remember your definition of manure?

I’m going to guess that you said shit, crap, fertilizer made from animal waste, or any of the common usage definitions of manure. WRONG!!!!

Then what does manure mean?

To craft. To make something.

Yes it does. If you are using the middle ages/English definition of the word. Yep, you may have guessed it, the professor was not using common usage definition, but older out of use definitions, but not telling the class, thus…well you see where this is going.

What you may not see, is the final bit. Sandy (remember her) saw my definition test and immediately, six weeks into the semester, pulled me from that class and put me into a class with a professor named Nate, who got me to see that I was in the right major, but that is another 500 Words.



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