In Which Mackenzie Plays The Blues

I was glad to have run into Amaranth… well, I wasn’t happy about actually running into her, but I was glad to have been able to pass the mystery represented by the book off to someone else for a while, especially someone who was a lot more passionate about the whole thing than I was.

Imagining the practical progress she might make on cracking the problem didn’t actually help much, because then I was trying to imagine what she might find, which was the same thing as trying to figure it out myself. It was as much the emotional lift that came from having shared the metaphorical burden as it was anything else. I’d passed it off. She could worry about it for a while.

I knew she hadn’t been thinking that when she came looking for me, but it seemed like this was a natural and beneficial side-effect of having a partner: you had a partner.

Amaranth liked to remind me that I was never on my own, that I never had to face anything alone. There was a lot of truth to that, and it went beyond having friends and lovers who would stoically stand beside me even when they had no reason to other than a desire to support me. If Bohd had presented me with something that wouldn’t have appealed to Amaranth’s love of learning and books, then it might have been something that fit with Ian’s interests and strengths, or Steff’s.

Or Two’s, or any of Two’s friends… the chain really did go on and on.

I was alone when I stepped into Coach Callahan’s class, but having friends I could count on had brought me to that point and given me the ability to deal with it. It was just one hour of standing on my own two feet. I had to get through it, and while I did have to do more than just get by while I did so, I still only had to do it for an hour.

An hour of fighting past my natural inclination towards passivity, an hour of exceeding a skeptical teacher’s expectations, an hour of excelling… but just an hour.

Even with the conversation with Amaranth, I still made it to the designated salon a little bit before class officially started. Coach Callahan waved me over towards her after I finished making a mockery of my staff with the red cabinet. The mocked staff came out looking a lot less solid than usual, but I assumed the coach had adjusted the box’s settings for a reason.

“Yesterday you sucked,” she said. “But let’s not talk about yesterday. Let’s not even talk about today. Let’s talk about Monday, and every day after Monday. You think the point of being here is that you made a deal with me, or getting an A to impress your sweaty-naked-times-friend. I couldn’t give a shit about about either of those reasons if I ate my weight in fiber beforehand. Yeah, even the deal. It got you here and I like that, but it doesn’t impress me that you kept your word. So let’s talk about the rest of the semester.”

That didn’t seem to be something that required a response from me, or invited one, so I just nodded.

“You had a strong start and one stumble,” Coach Callahan said. “A start is good, but it isn’t more than a start. If you thought you could come in, impress me at the outset, and then coast on that, you were mistaken. It takes more than a good start to win a battle… but it usually takes more than one mistake to get you killed. At least, if no one steps up to seize on it quickly enough… and to be fair, you’re in about the top twenty-five percent of the class in mercilessness right now, which means you’d have a decent chance of being able to recover from a stumble. I’m not going to call this a deal, because you don’t make deals on the battlefield… you accept realities.

“So here’s the reality you need to work with: you give it everything today, and then you do the same thing next week… every single day next week… and I’ll give you an extra credit assignment to help you make up for yesterday. You screw up after next week, it might not be fatal. You screw up sometime next week, and we’ll talk. You screw up today, and you might as well bend over and kiss your ‘A’ goodbye. Understand?”

“Yes, Coach,” I said.

“Oh, you’ve just been talking to her, I can tell,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Now, I want you to take a moment to appreciate the fact that I’m telling you this at the start of class instead of just silently judging you by criteria you can never know or guess. I could do that in perfect fairness, because I shouldn’t have to tell you to try all the damned time. I could do it even if it wasn’t fair. And you’d probably fall on your face because you wouldn’t have any idea that you hadn’t irrevocably fucked yourself with your performance yesterday, so why bother trying now? Do you understand why I’m telling you this?”

“You want me to know how nice you’re being,” I said.

“I’m doing you a favor,” she said. “Don’t mistake that for being nice.”

She turned and stalked off towards other students she had pre-melee messages for. A lot of them were just short barked instructions about things like where to keep their chins or eyes during combat, but I was somewhat pleased to note that I wasn’t the only one she came in close for more personal instructions.

It made me feel better about myself both to know that I wasn’t the only one who’d stumbled, as she put it, and that I wasn’t the only one she was doing favors for. It was more than just a fairness-derived desire to not get special treatment. The clearest implication I could see in her distinction between being nice and doing favors was that favors had to be repaid. If she was making a rare exception for me that would be a bigger favor, requiring a bigger repayment.

“Everyone, circle up!” she said when class began, and we all lined up in the now-familiar circle around her. Once again, she picked two students from opposite sides of the circle at random to come into the middle.

“There is a saying that the best defense is a good offense,” she said. “This is only situationally true. The best defense is the one that works. If you take out your opponent before they can harm you, then you have exercised the best defense. But you will fight opponents who are stronger than you, faster than you, more vicious than you, or in a better position than you. You can train to be stronger and faster. You can damn well train to be more vicious. You can look for the best position to strike from.

“But there are limits to all of this. Offense is not enough. It’s not never enough, but you have to be ready for the times when it’s not. This class alone is good for that, because every person you fight here has the same goal as you do: to put the person in front of them down as fast and as hard as they can. One of you is going to be faster. One of you is going to be stronger. One of you is going to want it more.

“Out in the wilds, a situation like that is the perfect chance to practice the art of hitting someone before they know what’s coming. In here, that doesn’t work, and anyway I don’t want to train you all to only be able to win when you’re facing someone in a fair fight or you’re the one throwing an ambush. So today, we’re going to be doing what I call ‘endurance drills’. The skills and instincts you’ll need to succeed today are the same as you need every other day, just with a slightly different emphasis. When you pair up with someone, touch weapons and then take a few steps back.”

She gestured to her two random volunteers, who did so. One of them became bright red and the other bright blue, though they were still translucent and flickering.

“After a five seconds they’ll go solid, and that means it’s time to fight,” Callahan said, and they did indeed grow more substantial-looking as she spoke. “If your weapon’s red, you are on offense. If your weapon is blue, you are on defense. Your weapon will be solid to your opponent’s weapon as normal, but incapable of inflicting any pain or injury. Hit him with your sword in the head, as hard as you can.”

The girl whose blade had gone blue lifted it and swung it with all her might at the boy’s head. It was hard to say if there was any impact at all or he just flinched, but she might as well have bopped him on the head with a cardboard tube.

“You’ll automatically switch sides after five minutes, or whenever blue gets incapacitated. Go ahead and kill her, red,” she said.

When the guy stuck his sword through the girl’s torso, the swords flashed, switched colors. They also went translucent again, and began to slowly fade back in.

“After a total of ten minutes, your weapons will ghost out and the bout is over. Find different partners, touch weapons, and start again. Your score for today depends entirely on how much time you spend with a blue weapon. This means staying alive when your weapon is blue and killing your opponent quickly when your weapon is red… and not delaying when you’re between partners. This is an hour long class. I expect everyone to have five full-length ten minute bouts by the time they leave, even if you’re still in the middle of one when the bell rings. Everybody pair off and fight.”

This time, she didn’t need to give any further encouragement than that. Through whatever method the complex enchantment behind the mockbox used to determine such things, I was chosen to take defense first when I squared off against my first opponent, a girl with a three-part staff… a sort of flail made out of three short staves stuck together with flexible joints.

It wasn’t the sort of weapon I had a lot of confidence squaring off against, much less defending from. My mixed melee class the year before had given me some experience fighting against (and with) all kinds of weapons including the more complicated flails, but compared to something common and straightforward like a sword or axe I was a rank newbie. I was pretty sure I’d gone up against the girl at least once at some point earlier in the week, but the goal then had been to end the fight quickly and move on, not dance around.

I might have been okay if she had been less experienced in the use of her weapon, but I knew before our weapons phased in that this wouldn’t be the case. You didn’t pick up something that complicated just because it looked cool. Her staff’s flexibility gave her an advantage in gettting around my blocks, and I took a bunch of bruising hits in what I estimated was the first minute or so of our bout.

I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it the full five minutes even before she managed to trip me up and knock me on my ass. As jarring as that was, that was far from the end for me… I wasn’t disabled, I’d held onto my weapon, and was able to bat away her strike at my head.

This was the weakness of her weapon choice. Anything that can be used to conk somebody over the head can be used to kill or disable, but her weapon gave her fewer options for a kill shot than something pointy. She could wind up and snap her weapon with more force than a rigid staff, but it took more time and space to do that.

I hoped that Callahan was paying attention when I got back to my feet. Maybe she’d think I learned something from her speech to me about one mistake not being fatal. If nothing else, it made a good metaphor for having “stumbled” in Thursday.

I didn’t make it to the five minute mark in my first bout, though I was pretty sure I came close. She took me out the same way I had managed my first disabling strike of the year: with a shot to the knee. My staff had caught hers as she tried to take my legs out again, only the end of it came whipping around and hit my knee from the side. I felt an explosion of pain… or a rather convincing illusion thereof… and fell to the ground. The simulation judged that I was incapable of fighting on, and since this time I did lose my hold on my weapon as I reflexively grabbed my injured knee I wouldn’t be inclined to argue. The pain vanished, and my fallen staff turned red and pale.

To my credit, I took her down much more quickly than she’d been able to take me out. It wasn’t that she was worse at defense. I was just really good at offense. She was used to intercepting weapons and redirecting them with her spinning staff. I was able to blow right through the impromptu shield she presented and retake my position on the blue side almost right away. I held onto it for another few minutes. She did manage to get it back, but I got it back again almost right away. Maybe thirty seconds later, our bout ended.

“You’re really strong,” she said.

“You’re really good,” I told her, and that was all we had time to say before we both turned to grab another opponent.

I might have taken a moment to look for someone with a weapon I knew I could beat, but Coach Callahan despised people who tried to beat an exercise by beating the exercise… by taking advantage of parameters that only existed because this was a simulation of actual combat happening in a controlled environment. If she saw me stopping to try to figure out who to fight next, she’d definitely count that against me while deciding my grade. We’d all started fighting at about the same time, and so several other fights were ending within seconds of ours.

The good news was that I didn’t have to go out of my way to end up fighting someone with a much more common and simple weapon. My second opponent was a big bruiser wielding a two-handed bludgeon what was either a spiked metal club or a mace. Even a semester of mixed melee hadn’t been enough to teach me the difference for sure. I knew that a mace, properly speaking, had a fixed head… if you put it on a chain, it was a flail. This was less round than I thought of maces as being, but fancier than I expected a club to be. The spikes made me want to call it a morning star… but again, I thought of that as round.

Whatever it was, it allowed the wielder to put a lot of force behind it but it didn’t have the reach of my staff and it didn’t give him a lot of options for parrying. Inspired by my last opponent, I took him out at the start of the bout by sweeping his legs… and then hammering his whatever into his own face with my staff. That got me on blue, where I avoided more than I parried. Appearances aside, I was probably stronger than the guy… but that didn’t mean he couldn’t slam my staff with enough force to jar it out of my hands.

“Endurance drill” was a good name for it. The time spent on defense wasn’t as physically demanding as spending most of an hour trying to swing a weapon through the space where a person was standing, but it was taxing in its own way.

On offense, the goal was clear and the requirements for reaching it were lax. Outside of times when the coach set us to strike at a particular target, there were any number of ways to end a fight. Coach Callahan favored the immediately and obviously fatal as being the most reliable, but she hadn’t dinged me when I took a girl out by mock-shattering her knee on the first day.

On defense, the goal was just as clear-cut but your opponent controlled not just the pace but the path to the goal. You couldn’t just dodge, or just parry, or just anything for the whole five minutes… you had to react to what was happening.

It was also less clear how to defend impressively. Callahan had told us what rubric she’d be judging us by, but it was hard to figure out where the line between “adequate” and “impressive” was and what would stand out. Never being knocked out at all might have been great, but I’d blown that in my first bout. I had managed to spend the majority of it on the blue side, though.

I made it through my second bout without taking a substantial hit, much less being knocked out of the fight. The third one, against a girl with a pair of short swords, was a lot more even than either of the previous two. I had the feeling that I’d stayed blue longer than she did. My last two bouts really felt like slogs. One of them, it was so because my opponent offered no real threat and so I just had to be careful not to make a mistake and the other because he was just enough of a threat to keep me on my toes. In both of them I was barely in the red at all.

I had started a sixth bout… just started it, in fact… when my staff turned completely insubstantial, falling out of my hands and through the floor. Luckily the same was true of my opponent. I did end up crashing into him a little bit, out of surprise.

“Okay, that was a bit more interesting than what I’d expected,” Callahan said. “But my little doohickey says that you’ve all had five full bouts now, and I’ve got places to be tonight so we’ll wrap up a little early. Some of you stopped when you got to five and some of you kept going anyway. Don’t think I didn’t notice who did which.”

There was no doohickey in evidence, which made me curious about how much control she had over the mockbox and the illusionary copies it produced. She’d already showed a lot more versatility with it than I’d realized it was capable of.

“We’ll be doing these little drills regularly… not every week, but whenver I think you’re getting too complacent about the attack-attack-attack thing, or you need shaking up,” she said. “Some of you missed the point that you could stay blue for much longer than five minutes by taking your opponent out quickly when you were offense… I saw some of you holding back, acting like you were on a break when it wasn’t your turn to defend. Or maybe you thought you were being nice, giving your opponent a chance to rack up some time.

“That was a mistake. A lot of teachers say they want to see everyone they teach succeed. Well, I can’t say that because whenever two people get in a fight for real, only one of them can succeed. If I could get away with failing the bottom half of the class, I would… and I’d have harsh penalties for failure. I can’t do that, but I can give the bottom half an incentive to be in the top half, and for the top half to stay there. You’ll find out more about that on Monday. For now… get the hell out of here.”

I didn’t think Callahan had completely thought through her reasoning there. Given that she wasn’t allowed to line up the entire class and force us into deathmatches with each other at the end of the year, there wasn’t any reason she couldn’t root for all of us to succeed, by her definition of success. Even if someone in the class was a better fighter than me, if I never lost a “real” fight then she’d done her job.

But even though I disagreed with her reasoning, that was essentially a quibble about a side point… if she wanted everyone in the class to be the best fighter they could be, encouraging competition wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It would almost certainly be more cutthroat than I thought was healthy or warranted, but as she’d said, she could do things like that regardless of what I thought was fair.

And I needed to be in the top half, no matter what that entailed. She’d already done me the favor of telling me where I stood… in the top quarter, by at least one important measurement… but it might not be so easy to stay there once she turned up the heat on everyone.

It was true that I just had to get through an hour of the class at a time, but as helpful as it was to focus on that, it didn’t change the fact that I also had to make it through the whole semester.


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42 Responses to “Chapter 38: In The Red”

  1. Hey, folks! You’ll notice your view of the website is no longer obstructed by big nagging reminders. This is because you hit the thousand dollar mark overnight, so I’ll be dusting off the Tales of MU formspring account for your enjoyment and edification tomorrow.

    Thank you for reading!

    Current score: 0
  2. Luke Licens says:

    Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s just Chrome, but the font and letter spacing have become… broken. Firefox is fine, but I figured I’d point it out.

    Current score: 0
    • Jane says:

      MSIE is also fine. The echo of the story on the LJ talesofmu feed, however, is not 🙁 Don’t know if it’s the same error causing both?

      “You couldn’t just dodge, or just parry, or ***** just for the whole five minutes” is where the problem is on LJ: the ***** is an attempt at the word “anything”, with a broken EM tag around it.

      Current score: 0
    • Tierhon says:

      Hmmm, Chrome looks fine for me.

      Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      There seems to be a font issue in chrome, which makes some letters disappear, and spacing look funny.

      If you install stylish (chrome extension) and create a rule for this domain like this:

      body {
      color: black;
      font-family: times;
      }

      it seems to fix the problem.

      It seems that both the font the site is attempting to use, as well as the color have something wrong with them. However black times is almost identical but seems to have no issue.

      Current score: 0
  3. Kevin Brown says:

    It sounded like her first fight was against a three section staff, having actually sparred against one I would say it’s easier to be elsewhere when the blows come in than to try to parry them. They don’t really teach footwork with a staff do they.

    Current score: 0
    • Jane says:

      I get the impression that Mackenzie’s footwork at the moment consists of not falling over her own feet 🙂

      Current score: 1
    • JJ says:

      I got a bit of a kick on that section. One of my wife’s old friends used one.

      Current score: 0
  4. ASeriesOfWords says:

    For anyone interested, this is the weapon wielded by Mackenzie’s first opponent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sansetsukon

    They probably don’t call it that in-universe, though. 🙂

    Current score: 0
    • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

      I was wondering what it was! That is really cool.

      Current score: 0
    • Krey says:

      As an Iaido student, and having been big into SCA in high school, I never liked “exotic” weapons like this. It always seemed to me they’re much less efficient and the only real advantage is the novelty can throw off an otherwise experienced opponent since they’ve never practiced against something like this.

      Current score: 0
      • Hasufin says:

        It all depends on what you consider “exotic”. University students in general, and apparently very much in MU, come from diverse backgrounds. This is a world in which one can be attacked by any number of dangerous creatures at virtually any time; if someone chooses a 3-section staff as the weapon on which their life relies, I’d generally assume that is the weapon with which they’re most comfortable.

        Current score: 0
  5. anon y mouse says:

    “You couldn’t just dodge, or just parry, or just for the whole five minutes…” – just what? just any one thing?

    ***

    “after I finished making a mockery of my staff” – love this!

    Current score: 0
  6. oulfis says:

    Mmm. I love Callahan’s class. Especially when Mack is actually paying attention!

    Current score: 0
  7. Sapphite says:

    Very interesting fight concept!

    Current score: 0
  8. Maahes0 says:

    I was hoping mack Would have disabled the three section staff girl by knocking her red weapon back in her own face, not on purpose of course.

    Current score: 0
  9. Iason says:

    I like how Mack is actually making progress with her fighting. In her first round of mixed melee “avoiding more than parrying” would never have been an option.
    Thanks for another good chapter.

    Current score: 0
  10. Sable says:

    Just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying reading when Mack has combat class. I find myself looking forward to it each time (her) evenings come around.

    🙂

    Sable

    Current score: 0
  11. Don says:

    I think the thing I hate most about ToM is that I’d have sacrificed a goat or twelve to have had professors as awesome as Mac does; the jealousy is almost overwhelming. Callahan may be a sociopath but it’s hard to imagine a more perfect experience for Mac than her class. Bohd’s support, Hart’s humor and enthusiasm… we should all have college experiences so great. Might even be worth the mortal peril.

    Current score: 0
    • P says:

      Yeah, all of the professes are well written and they all have interesting conflicts going on outside of the main plot,but I love how Callahan became such a badass character. Probably my favorite in the whole series, since she has the whole “Tinker, Tailor , Soldier, Spy” (Godslayer) thing going on.

      Current score: 0
      • Kevin Brown says:

        That line is way to familiar for the title of a spy novel I have never read.

        Current score: 0
  12. N'ville says:

    Rather glad about all that, I was hoping we would get a decent account of Callahans lesson.
    small mistake report=

    I couldn’t give a shit about about either of those reasons.

    Two about’s

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      Typo Report

      “After a five seconds they’ll go solid,

      Should probably either drop the “a” or change it to “a five second interval”.

      not every week, but whenver I think you’re getting too complacent

      Missing an “e” in “whenever”.

      Current score: 0
  13. Raemon says:

    Curious: where do you get your knowledge about how to fight? Do you have actual experience in fencing or something, or reading the sort of books Callahan makes Mack read sometimes, or is this mostly assumptions?

    It SOUNDS plausible, but I have nothing to actually compare it to.

    Current score: 0
    • Kevin Brown says:

      She is a gamer and gamers have this bizarre interest in medieval combat, it’s why I know how to wield a rapier and why I can build a trebuchet(bugger off Firefox that is too a word) without looking at instructions.

      Current score: 0
  14. Zathras IX says:

    An A may impress
    Your sweaty-naked-times-friend
    If it’s for effort

    Current score: 1
  15. Sphoenix says:

    Possible typo: “… a two-handed bludgeon what was either a spiked metal club …” ‘what’==’that’?

    Although. It works as written (and I rather like the way it reads, and if we’re being honest I talk like that at times) but it threw me for a second ’cause I can’t quite tell if you’re playing with Mack’s internal dialogue/dialect, or if it’s actually a typo.

    Current score: 0
  16. Greenwood Goat says:

    Staff at the ready,
    Opponent’s staff split three ways,
    Mack goes to the poles.

    The coach ain’t biased,
    But those stuck in a red state,
    Are in her bad place.

    Showing their colours,
    Those forced to remain as hawks,
    Might as well have dove.

    Current score: 0
  17. Bilbo says:

    “I think the thing I hate most about ToM is that I’d have sacrificed a goat or twelve to have had professors as awesome as Mac does”

    Ah. Now that I think about it you’re right. I have pestered all my professors and stumped them fairly quickly. Mack doesn’t have that problem.

    Current score: 0
  18. readaholic says:

    In which Mackenzie plays the blues, and plays them surprisingly well.

    Om nom nom!

    Current score: 1
  19. Hasufin says:

    I very much wish we had mockboxes like what Callahan is using for fencing. It’s one thing to tell students “You’re on attack; you’re on defense. Attacker gets one thrust, defender gets on parry and riposte.” It would be a something else for that to be enforced with the weapons themselves.

    It does somewhat surprise me that Mack isn’t in a weapon-specific class, and we’ve no indication that they exist. Mack clearly doesn’t know the proper footwork, defense, or attacks for her weapon, and she has just been thrown in, sink or swim, against a broad range of other weapons. She’d benefit a great deal from a class that focused just on use of her staff; leave the mixed melee for more experienced students.

    Current score: 1
    • Kevin Brown says:

      Well if you read from the beginning you would see how she ended up where she is. Incidentally, she started out in basic knife (a very entry level knives only course) and dropped it within a week.

      Current score: 0
    • jagroq says:

      I get the impression that, with fighting skills so critical in this world, most everyone’s high school PE basically amounts to weapons training. Most of the other students obviously know how to use there chosen weapons. Even considering Mack switched weapons I’m not sure how Mack managed to avoid learning basic self defense so completely. I suspect that Grandma wanted to actively discourage Mack fighting anything and pulled her out of any combat class.

      Current score: 0
  20. Forum Solipsist says:

    There are weapon specific classes, such as basic knife which was Mack’s first weapon class choice. What she’s learning here is not as much about how to use any specific weapon, it’s about how to fight. The mental state not the physical. Of course the more she does it the better she gets at the physical too by finding what works for her.
    If she wants to Learn finess then she can always do a little homework. I’m sure Steff would be happy to help her…

    Current score: 0
    • Zukira Phaera says:

      and she would probably shock Jilly and impress her if she asked her to suggest someone to do a show and tell rather than her just reading the book that was assigned many moons ago.

      Current score: 0
  21. orlanth says:

    Mack needs to start training a little on the side with pure staff work but our author is doing an awesome job. I do remember people in her life pushing her that way before. Maybe she will apply that now.

    Current score: 0
  22. Helen Rees says:

    typo alert:

    I wasn’t the only one she came in close for more personal instructions.

    seems to have one word too few – ‘close to’?

    Also:

    You didn’t pick up something that complicated just because it looked cool.

    – you’ve never met me, have you…?

    back to typo alert:

    but whenver I think you’re getting

    seems to be missing an ‘e’.

    Current score: 0
  23. Adele says:

    First thing that strikes me – and Mack, actually – is how the coach is using the mockboxes. It struck a chord because I’m a teacher myself, and an area of strength I have over my peers is knowing how to use a piece of software like Excel or Geometer’s SketchPad to demonstrate a mathematical idea. It falls short of me having any programming skills at all, but I do have the skills to work within software and construct a file for my own specific purposes, beyond what many of my friends would’ve guessed possible (though I, again, know people who can go much much further). I don’t know how much magical skill Callahan has, though I think it’s clear that that area of inquiry is relatively unimportant to her, but I think if Mack is training to become the equivalent of an engineer or software programmer, Callahan is at least a highly skilled end user, and canny about her use of resources not being flashy for the sake of it (as in the case of Mack’s first class in the Emily), but to enhance learning. The story has many foci, all of which I love, but the focus on teaching and learning – and interactions between teachers and learners – has actually prompted me to reflect on and improve my own practice, so thank you AE 🙂

    Second, did anyone else pick up on Mack referring to Callahan in her own head, totally idly, as “the coach”? There’s no doubt Mack’s respect for Callahan is growing, and her understanding of her is too. I’d be really curious as to whether Mack’ll consider any further WP training after this semester.

    Third, Mack’s current approach to WP reminds me of Aaron Hart talking to Miss LaBelle:
    “I also grade on grading,” he said. “If I could pass or fail students based entirely on their desire to learn, I’d do it.”

    “That’s easy,” she said. “Everyone would want to learn.”

    “Everybody would want to pass,” he said. “But only those who wanted to learn, would”

    Mack wants to pass. She wants to impress CC, get a good grade, an A is possible, and so impress Amaranth. And she sort of wants to learn – but as a means to those ends, not for itself or for her future. It’s interesting.

    OTOH, unlike Keri, she’s smart in how she goes about it, giving her teacher credit and not trying to “game” her way to an A, because she knows that won’t work. Callahan’s in a position where she can grade, and pass and fail students, based on their willingness and eagerness to learn. I wonder whether it’s a factor for her, or if it’s all about attainment, or progress, or what.
    Whatever, she’s a stud, <3

    Current score: 1
  24. That Dave Guy says:

    I would murder* a stranger** for a change to be in Callahan’s class.

    *(hug)
    **(puppy)

    Current score: 0
  25. someone.else says:

    yeah… actually her class sounds like fun to me
    and that despite me being somewhat of a nerdy bookworm
    the only thing that’d make it more interesting is if it was outside again 😀

    Current score: 0
  26. Anthony says:

    Wow, Callahan sure takes the whole “drills are bloodless battles” thing seriously!

    Current score: 1