Tuesday, March 3, 2015

As Elsa, or Ilsa, or Anna, or Idina, or Whoever Sings that Song, Let us "Let It Go."

This note comes from a comment down below concerning the authenicity of some comments and emails generated sent to this page in support of Dr. Stommel. We've been down similar roads of course with KinK and H_P, so I don't need to bore you. But I thought it was important enough to lay out what I know so we can let this go to rest. Stommel has let me know he's not coming back, but I wanted the community members to have this info


For anyone keeping up on this, the IPs for 3 different Blogger logins and two emails addresses that contacted me with supporting remarks about the subject of this 2 day nightmare are both in Madison, more of them from a Safari browser on an OS X machine, and slightly fewer from a Firefox browser on an OS X machine.

I don't believe I'm giving anything away because Stommel is not pseudonymous and his institutional affiliation is not a secret.

Both of these logins use the same ISP (Internet Service Provider), Chater Communications. Comments and email generated from Independent Scholar, Dedicated Professional, John from Phoenix, and Colorado Prof all link to these two logins.

And finally, and I hate to do this, but it's on his fucking vita. Stommel is a grad of U of .. wait for it ... you won't believe it ... oh, yes you will, of course you will ... Colorado.

Tip your waitresses and your bartenders. I'll be here the rest of the week.

Go Buffs.

PS: Listen, I now feel badly about this, at least a bit. I actually admire this guy's ambition. I read some of his stuff today, and yes, he's wrongheaded in all kinds of ways, but I believe he's trying to do what he thinks is right, and he seems to be an advocate for the kinds of students he teaches. So I give him credit for that at least.

The Patient (Usually) Prof Puts It To Bed.

When I read the posts and comments [on this blog,] I see a group of faculty who genuinely want to educate our students and we get pissed because some of them care a whole lot less than we do. And we vent. And CM (and its RGM) give us a forum to do so. Stommel completely misses the fact that our mission is to educate students and that CM gives us a nice outlet for the outliers.

On the reverse: one of my former students is a first generation collegian. Coming to a school like XXXXX XXXXXXX, where some of the students are incredibly wealthy, must have been a hell of a culture shock. Many of our finance majors are alpha males. Well, they'd like to think so at least.

This kid just gets it done. No pretentiousness, no ego, just an incredibly smart kid who works his tail off and is in the top 5 in a class of over 500. He's a little insecure and that came across in internship interviews. 2 of us on faculty pushed hard for him and he got a very good internship. He wrote us both heartfelt notes about how much he appreciated our help.

We can't call that misery, but we can call it a win. And stories like that are why I love to teach.

Reg W.: What I Did for National Adjunct Walkout Day.

I have never in my career worked part-time. And my department does not make much use of adjunct or contingent faculty.

But after having read an article in my college paper, I've discovered that English and Math, especially the first year courses, are taught by part-timers so widely here that nearly 60% of our freshmen finish those important requirements without ever having been taught by a full timer, tenure-track, or tenured professor.

With that information and some national articles, like the one I note below, I went to my classes yesterday to teach them what I knew about the widespread usage of part-timers in colleges across America.

And my students beat me to the punch. Obviously - but somehow lost on me - they knew about it, and had much to say about the adjuncts they had met, primarily again in English and Math.

"My guy was good, but he worked 30 hours a week at a coffee shop, so he never got our work graded in time."

"I had a nice lady in Math but she sometimes had to leave class 15 minutes early because she taught a class in [another town nearby]."

"The adjuncts I've had have all been terrible."

It was if a light appeared in my brain that I'd dully not noticed all of these years. I admitted to my students that I didn't know enough about it, but that what I'd read - as a parent of a future college student (I hope...) - scared the hell out of me.


"I love every aspect of teaching," [Leleua Loupe says.] "The interaction with students, the research in my own field. I feel I'm contributing to creating a better world." It's that love of her profession that keeps her going, despite the obstacles she faces. Hers is a familiar story - that of the freeway flyer. Today she teaches on just two campuses -- five classes a semester at Cal State Fullerton, and one class at Mount San Antonio College. But there have been years where it was three campuses, and even more classes.
In the hierarchy of academia, lecturer positions are sometimes described as stepping stones to eventual tenure, and lecturers themselves denigrated as less experienced or knowledgeable faculty. This clearly doesn't fit Loupe's professional profile. Growing up between Seattle and Honolulu, she started in community college in Hawaii, did archeological field work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and then got bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees at the University of California in Riverside, in public history resource management. Since receiving her PhD in 2005 she's written books and many journal and encyclopedia articles, recorded oral histories, and presented papers "all over," she says. That, however, didn't get her tenure. That's no surprise, given that institutions of higher education now employ far more non-tenured faculty than tenured.


Dear Dr. Stommel. Fuck You.

Dr. Stommel,

Fuck you. No, seriously. FUCK YOU.

Why don't you get down off of your high horse and join us down here in the trenches. Maybe then your views wouldn't be so skewed by your rose-colored Division of Continuing Studies glasses. I guess when your students are 2- or 3-day-at-a-time lifelong learners, you can afford to be innovative, you can afford to be experimental with your courses, you can go without giving grades.

Try teaching Freshman Composition to 30 mouthbreathers day in and day out, those that need to be dragged kicking and screaming toward having a critical thought on anything. Try teaching 4 of those sections each term. Or even better. Come down here to Peoria and teach my 3 sections of Prealgebra at CC of the State of Denial. Let's see how your gumdrop unicorn ass deals with the overwhelming apathy of students that have decided early in life that they "can't do" math, when they really mean that they don't want to think about something other than their social media presence for more than two seconds at a time. Come down here and tell me that I'm an awful professor and an awful person because I have to vent about the student(s) that can't be bothered to bring a pencil to class for an exam (sorry bucko, my exams are pencil and paper, not on the computer), students that can't be bothered to put their phones down for two seconds to read their syllabus then complain when they don't follow the rules and have points deducted for it, saying that they didn't know the rules. Then go to the site that shall not be named and commit what is effectively slander because I didn't understand their speshullness.

Then, come down here and listed to the obvious pride in my voice when I tell you that in 10 years of teaching these Prealgebra sections, some 1500+ students, I have been able to inspire 4 students enough for them to become math majors. That may not seem like a lot to you, but when you consider that 50+% of the students that begin at the Prealgebra level or lower don't earn an Associate's degree, let alone a Bachelor's, this is something that I will continue to be proud of for the rest of my career. By the way, all four have earned their degrees in math and are gainfully employed. I wish that I could inspire more in that way, and I try to every day. However, it's difficult when the first thought of most at that level is when they can get their next social media fix.

You see Pretentious Ass Clown (can I call you Pretentious Ass Clown), venting is what keeps me from going batshit crazy wondering if I made the right choices in life. It's what keeps me from drinking more than I already do to forget the agony of apathy in my classrooms.

I've spent way too much time on this. I guess I'll conclude with . . .

FUCK YOU. Fuck you and the unicorn you rode in on. Fuck you with the unicorn you rode in on.


P.S.: Fuck you.


This post appeared earlier as a comment, but after some suggestions from readers, the RGM has given it some space on the page.

Stommel Told Us to Get Serious, so Let's Get Serious

Hey you miserable bastards,

Half of you won't click on a linked article (I won't even try to replicate Ben's gag). The other half are innumerate idiots. So here's a linked article that's guaranteed to piss everyone off. My confidence interval on that is off the fucking charts.

Many of us are in fields where citation frequency is used as a measure for pay increases and promotion. This generates a fair amount of disagreement as to whether or not that's a fair metric. Here's an interesting analysis of citation frequency by gender in the notoriously sexist discipline of philosophy. How do you think your discipline would hold up under a similar analysis?

Please to enjoy le flayvah as they say in France:

From The Pitt News. Fewer tests, more feedback: Reexamining college grading.

Tests come with stress and are notoriously inaccurate at gauging a student’s knowledge of a subject. Researchers have linked sustained mental stress to multiple health issues, like sleep problems, depression and eating disorders. According to the National College Health Assessment, one-third of college students in the past 12 months had difficulty functioning because of depression, while half said they felt overwhelming anxiety.

Professors, especially in non-humanities departments, which often rely on highly consequential exams more than multiple papers for grading, should understand these realities and attempt to provide a less mentally taxing grading system for their students. They should put less priority on exams and more priority on homework and weekly quizzes.