Des étudiants

One of my great problems is that I was always told it was important, for survival, not to be teaching oriented, and then only ever got jobs where teaching was the most important thing. I am intellectually challenging generally, so I am often considered a “bad” teacher. It has been made more than clear to me that it is very dangerous to be considered a “bad” teacher, so I spend much time and energy making sure I am well enough protected. I understand very well that great teaching is not required, and that research is more important. What I am talking about is being considered good enough at teaching to get tenure, and to not be called up on post-tenure review.

So I ran into students Out and they were telling me how wonderful my classes were. It is my materials they save, my syllabi, the papers they wrote for me. Their perceptions of the situation and mine are so different, and mine are based on the complaints from the failing people and the fact that the administration believes them and not anyone else. This is part of why, in the absence of actual moral support, the only way I could have healed from the various blows I was dealt in the late 80s and early 90s would have been to get to a place in which these wounds would at least not be re-inflicted.

And that, in turn, is why I am so icy to people who say all I need is to understand that research matters — and to come up with a rational schedule for doing it. I refer such people to this post on the research schedule I had before I had ever heard any of their exhortations, “encouragement,” or advice.

But I digress. This post is not about that, it is about how I am not actually a bad teacher. I, who never said I wanted to teach (and was also warned so urgently that if I did, I would ruin my career as a professor). I, who in any case had hoped the Ph.D. would gain me entry to work for a large research organization and not to any kind of teaching job. I, even I, am not a “bad teacher.”

Moreover: I challenge every R1 person barking about the need to “cut corners” on teaching to survive, or manage where I have doing what you say you do. I also challenge you on your accusations that I spend too much time preparing materials. Let us do it together: you prepare yours and I will prepare mine, and I am betting that I can do better than you in less time.




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

3 responses to “Des étudiants

  1. Z

    And just in general. The things I was asked to believe about myself, the accusations from every quarter. No wonder … and no wonder I am so icily angry about it all, and no wonder that when I look at the actual landscape of this past I feel so sad.

    There has to be a way to put a positive enough spin on all of this to be able to keep going. And that is actually how this post started out, with an actual discovery of positive information.

  2. Z

    Oh yes, and here is something to remember: notice how this post is by a person who is traumatized and angry about it … and about having had attempts to get help for it rebuffed.

    This is why I do not like to say I am depressed. “Oh, that is a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetically caused, just take this pill.” It is that reaction I am trying to avoid getting.

  3. Z

    Keywords trauma and anger at trauma and at having this called depression and anxiety. Voilà.

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