On how I could make my life easier

I have just discovered by chance that someone in my main department is using a graded reader I used to use at the sophomore level as the textbook in a senior level survey course. I do see why — it has abridged and modernized versions of the classics. I was using it in the lower level reading course because the plots are fun and the students find out who the Cid, the Celestina, Don Quixote and Don Juan are. But it is utterly unmodern and antipedagogical, one feels, to use abridged and non authentic materials even in language courses. And of course, when I give the same course for which this reader is being used now I use an anthology designed for that level or else actual books in good editions, Clásicos Castalia for example.

This means I struggle and have uneven teaching evaluations, and spend time I should spend on other things bringing students up to speed. It also means I get undergraduates into graduate school or at least hear them enthuse like this: “I visited Los Angeles! I saw the bookstore at UCLA! Their senior level courses use the books our senior level courses do! It means I am able to learn the same things they learn at UCLA! That is, I may be on a par with UCLA students! I can hardly believe it, I am so proud of myself!”

But, the way to do things is to take it all much easier. I could put my lower level courses on multiple choice and autograde, and teach my senior level courses with antiquated second year readers. If I did not speak English, I could evade almost all service, and even speaking English I could do service in the way successful people do, namely, accept assignments but then not do then. This is to do an excellent job, because you will have effectively blocked progress, blocking of progress is what is actually desired.

Then, I would have very high ratings on both service and teaching, and I would put very little time into either. I would have a lot of time left for research and if I sent everything to places that were peer reviewed but not very competitive, I would be a star here because there would be so much. If I sent things to first tier journals I would be respectable elsewhere and I could get a job since I would have great teaching evaluations and warm recommendations from all for being unproblematic.

I am clearly too responsible, sincere to a fault as someone once pointed out (as a child I was not believed and so I go through contortions still to prove and prove again that I really do mean what I say, that I have no second agendas and am not trying to trick anyone). But the professors I had were not irresponsible like this and I still resemble them, and I could not stomach operating in the effective way I have just described; over that I prefer to continue to suffer, or so it would seem.

Axé.

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6 Comments

Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, What Is A Scholar?

6 responses to “On how I could make my life easier

  1. What would it take to actually take over the foreign-language teaching? Could you possibly stage a coup and make everyone do it your way, the right way? Speaking of taking power . . . if you’re going to take it over your own life, maybe you could entertain the notion of taking more. I know, given what else you have said about your situation, this is probably not possible, but thinking about the conditions in which it would be possible could be a useful exercise in naming the problems, which you keep saying you need to do.

    • Z

      It isn’t possible. Their greatest fear is that I would. They have feared this since before I arrived, and fear that I will take over and be given the power to do so is why I get so much sabotage. The realistic answer would be to get out of it, not further into it, because there are so very many people who want to take it over. Some are not qualified and this makes them very destructive contenders in the war over who can be in charge.

      Also: people here do not understand being in charge as a service, they see it as a way to order people around, have power, be the ruler. So, if I took over, I would be seen that way no matter what my real attitude or intentions were.

    • Z

      It isn’t possible. Their greatest fear is that I would. They have feared this since before I arrived, and fear that I will take over and be given the power to do so is why I get so much sabotage. The realistic answer would be to get out of it, not further into it, because there are so very many people who want to take it over. Some are not qualified and this makes them very destructive contenders in the war over who can be in charge.

      Also: people here do not understand being in charge as a service, they see it as a way to order people around, have power, be the ruler. So, if I took over, I would be seen that way no matter what my real attitude or intentions were.

      But, the idea off taking control over more things is good. I think I might take over academic senate, though, and what I want to do is have my own unit for Latin American and Iberian studies, would not mind administrating that (fat chance it happens, though). I have also thought of applying to be dean of general studies, get out of this unit that way, but there are problems with that and I am not sure.

    • Z

      It isn’t possible. Their greatest fear is that I would. They have feared this since before I arrived, and fear that I will take over and be given the power to do so is why I get so much sabotage. The realistic answer would be to get out of it, not further into it, because there are so very many people who want to take it over. Some are not qualified and this makes them very destructive contenders in the war over who can be in charge.

      Also: people here do not understand being in charge as a service, they see it as a way to order people around, have power, be the ruler. So, if I took over, I would be seen that way no matter what my real attitude or intentions were.

      But, the idea off taking control over more things is good. I think I might take over academic senate, though, and what I want to do is have my own unit for Latin American and Iberian studies, would not mind administrating that (fat chance it happens, though). I have also thought of applying to be dean of general studies, get out of this unit that way, but there are problems with that and I am not sure.

      “thinking about the conditions in which it would be possible could be a useful exercise in naming the problems, which you keep saying you need to do”

      This is really true.

  2. I see your point, and I thought you’d have an answer like this. I guess I am combative enough that in response to that sort of suspicion I would think, fine, you think I’m a power-monger, I’ll show you power like you never thought about power before. But I am from the West and trained in the North and have not been traumatized, so I am still uppity that way.

    • Z

      I am not sure that would work here. The level of violence is very high. Nobody believes it, it seems unbelievable to anyone not here, but it is real. Still, I tend more toward your attitude, really, and I may start showing it more.

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