Tonight we have the written test on waxing. It’s an accidental pop quiz because Miss Stacy forgot to tell us we were having it. Nobody does well. The spa has been busy, busy, busy with clients and it’s been over a week since we cracked open Milady’s (or, as is usually the case, read from the Milady’s-provided PowerPoint lecture instead). Remember that whole speech from Miss Susan about how we can’t work on clients because we’ll miss important book learning? When we get our grades,* we finally get why that’s important.
This is our fourteenth written exam (out of about twenty) that we’ve taken since starting Beauty U. For the first thirteen, we followed Miss Jenny’s pattern: Read the PowerPoint lecture together as a group. Answer our workbooks independently, then review the answers as a group. Take notes while Miss Jenny quizzed us from the actual test. Study from those notes at home. Answer the chapter review questions for extra study time and extra credit. Do well on the test.
The other teachers think Miss Jenny spent way too much time on theory and not enough time being hands on with us.
Miss Jenny thought that we all worked full-time jobs (hence our participation in a night school program) and most of us take care of kids too, and thus, didn’t have much in the way of free time to spend on homework. And I’ve got to go with Miss Jenny on this one. And even if she was being too easy, it seems a little questionable to change the game so drastically at the halfway point.
“I never had any test review when I was in school,” says Miss Stacy, when we complain that this test was harder than the rest because she didn’t do the study prep, or tell us which day we’d have the test so we could plan to study at home. “You shouldn’t have been counting on us doing that. If we have clients, we don’t have time.”
Except that we aren’t supposed to have clients, because we aren’t supposed to work on real people. Until we’re done with all our tests. Oops.
Miss Stacy and Miss Marci (one of the Miss Jenny replacements) go over the test with us so we can all figure out where we went wrong, and it becomes clear that the main source of confusion is, well, them.
Example #1: Beauty U provides baby powder for us to apply to skin before we wax. Milady’s says that baby powder can be irritating (all that fragrance) and cornstarch is a better option. So when the multiple choice test lists both baby powder and cornstarch as potential answers… Chaos ensues.
Example #2: Milady’s insists that roll-on wax is the most sanitary option. Miss Marci insists it’s the least sanitary option. So when the test describes it as both sanitary and unsanitary… You get the idea.
Sorry, I know that’s all a bit inside baseball. And in the grand scheme of things, maybe it doesn’t matter whether roll-on wax is sanitary or if you use baby powder or not. Miss Stacy and Miss Marci are both excellent hands-on teachers, great at demonstrating how to perform services and endlessly patient when we ask really obvious questions, over and over again. And it’s not their fault that we keep getting so busy with clients that we don’t have time to do book stuff — they don’t book the appointments.
But I think it does matter when a business that bills itself as “a school first” prioritizes paying clients over test review. And schools that encourage working moms to apply by saying the night schedule will be so easy to fit in around their busy lives should make a real effort to design a curriculum that actually does that.
“When I was in school, I had to learn what was the real world way and what was the book way and it was up to me to keep it all straight,” says Miss Marci.
We’re getting pretty cranky about this whole “when I was in school” business, past evidence of things sucking not being the most rational argument for why things should continue to suck in the present day. But what makes me sadder is that, as we present our case, the teachers know we’re right.
“This is just how Beauty U does things,” says Miss Stacy.
“What if you asked them to do things differently?” Meg asks. “Like book fewer clients, so we can have time to do our test review? Or give us points for questions that we answer right for the real world if you think the book is wrong?”
There’s an awkward silence. “I guess we can try that,” says Miss Marci, looking at Miss Stacy for confirmation. Even though Miss Stacy is technically the junior teacher, Miss Marci, being newer, lets her call most of the shots.
Miss Stacy just shakes her head.
*Okay, full disclosure, because I know somebody will ask: I got a 90. Or technically, an 88, plus 2 points of extra credit for hastily scribbling answers to the chapter review questions as we were all cramming as best we could ten minutes before the test. I know. A 90 is a great grade. But stay focused, because this isn’t about me.