22 April, 2009

Taking On the System

I haven't written for a while, and it's because I've been gearing up for a fight with CSM.

When The Boy and I arrived at my place in London, I found two letters from CSM at my door. I'd been dreading them; I'd been hoping they wouldn't come. One letter said, "you failed last term and have to do ANOTHER retrieval project." The other said, "you failed your last retrieval project and therefor your position at this school is up for review."

In short, over ten of my classmates and I are in danger of being kicked out or held back. Ten out of 36 students is a ridiculously high number of positions to review, wouldn't you say? Although one or two people really do need an ass-kicking to get themselves in gear, it is my opinion that the rest of us have been unfairly threatened.

I currently have an appeal in to the school board to say that I should not have failed the last term and would like to be reviewed again. I also have a meeting with the dean of fashion tomorrow afternoon, during which I will not only request that my unfair retrieval project be revoked, but that from now on my classmates and I need concrete feedback and more attention from our tutors.

If over ten people are failing miserably, then CLEARLY something isn't right. If one or two people were failing, then it's probably their own fault. If a third of the class is failing, something else is going on.

It has been my complaint from the beginning that the tutors don't give me guidance or help of any kind. I know that they are not supposed to "teach us" per say, but that does not excuse the fact that I have been unable to get a straightforward answer from any tutor about why I have been failing projects. Time and time again I have sought out real guidance, help, tutorial time, extra advice, and every time I have been told, "just keep going" or "work harder". I was willing to deal with the frustration of this situation until it became a threat to my position at this university.

Yesterday I met with my tutor. The evil tutor. I decided that before I go speak with the dean I should give me tutor one last chance to explain himself and his grading. He told me that I should "look forward, not look back" and that my work was.... wait for it..... "too glam". Glam? GLAM? He told me that I favored one-shouldered slim fitting designs and never experimented with shape and silhouette. This, incidentally, is utter bullshit. And I told him I disagreed. He shrugged, dismissing me. He had his chance to explain himself, and now I'm going to speak to his boss.


So. Tomorrow I meet with the Dean. I am going to bring in some work, and the school's handbook which clearly states that I should be getting feedback in written form after each project I fail explaining WHY I failed. The handbook states that I may seek out extra help from my tutors if I am confused. It also states that I should be warned if my work isn't good enough to pass. I am going to sit across from him and tell him that I am concerned with the way things are going. I am going to be professional, diplomatic, sweet, but very firm. I want my project graded again because I did NOT deserve to fail. I want my retrieval project removed. And on behalf of myself and the other students that are caught in this huge machine, I am going to demand that we get more thorough feedback, concise success criteria, and more tutorial time.

If this talk doesn't go well, I will go higher. I will piss them off and bug them and plead with them until I am sure that they will make efforts to fix this problem. I shouldn't have to fight for an education. I will gladly take an active role in my education, but tutors shouldn't yell at us for asking questions, or cut us off when we ask for more help.

I am fed up with this place and now they are threatening to pull the rug out from under me right when I am starting to get a grip on life at Central St Martins. Well, I won't let them. And if for some reason I fail, I have so many other options and plans that CSM will someday look back and wish they could have added my name to their "notable alumni" list.

Wish me luck.

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