Sunday, August 15, 2010

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower

Did anyone here read this? Did any of you write it?

I wonder what ya'll think of the second comment.


  1. Oh god. I guess I'm a plagiarist!

    I certainly didn't write that piece, although I could have. Now that you mention it, I do believe I read it when it came out -- the title definitely would have appealed to me since I had been using that phrase for awhile. But I had forgotten about it until I clicked over.

    When I chose a moniker for posting here, I just used a phrase I have been saying for quite some time, that I work in the ivory tower, but I never made it past the basement.

    When I was an adjunct, I used to say that I pushed the food cart in the ivory tower.

    I have to say, though, I've become quite fond of my little piece of the ivory tower. I just wish there were some windows and that it didn't flood so often.

    I thought I was so clever and original. Damn!

  2. 1 - Old news. The articles was written 2 years ago. I didn't write it, but I probably could have.

    2 - It's a CLASSIC! It should be required reading at every "safety school" across the country. And administrators who push retention and remediation should be made fully aware that the students they are stealing money from may not be prepared for college-level work, even after 2 years of high-intervention, mandatory remediation.

    3 - Comment #2 is the typical pro-student pablum that appears whenever someone criticizes the lack of ability among college students. I really do think lots of people refuse to accept that a high school graduate should have a certain set of skills before attending college. And many of the current crop of college students lack those skills.

    4 - Loving comments #3 and #4. The penultimate paragraph in #4 rang lots of bells for me. Although, in my case, some of my most problematic students were the ones who resented being taught the basics of their major. I still am a bit stunned by that.

  3. I once corrected an English major's paper in a math class (Please forgive me for bringing this up again.). She had the audacity to tell me that I had no right to do that. Um... the mistakes were glaringly obvious, or at least should have been to the young woman, especially as an English major. But, she felt that I should only be allowed to correct the Math parts of her essay. It still pisses me off every time I think about it.

    Students seem to think that they should get an A just for showing up. After all, isn't that what high school was like? (I'm generalizing here... not all students think like this, but in my time teaching, I've found that most do.) It makes me angry.

    Well, I'd better go do something to bring my blood pressure down.

    Mathsquatch out.

  4. During my last year as an instructor at a tech school, I taught a service course to another department.

    Much of the course material required solving algebraic equations and some of the kiddies gave me a tongue-lashing for penalizing them if they made any errors in, say, factoring a polynomial. Their logic was that since they had already been tested on that in another course, why should they be tested again? My answer was that in my course, they applied that knowledge and I was grading them on their ability to apply those equations, which also meant being able to solve them properly. They were dumb-founded, but I shouldn't have been surprised. Theirs was a department in which all who enrolled were almost guaranteed to graduate.

    But I also encountered similar resistance at university. I was a TA for a course in the department where I did my Ph. D. and I deducted marks if the students didn't show how they arrived at their solutions. (I did not consider being told that plugging numbers into their calculators and pushing the right function keys to be an adequate answer.) I later discussed this with the prof and he told me that it wasn't "a math course".

    I'd like to see what happens if any of those snowflakes make a mistake and wind up in a professional disciplinary hearing. Somehow, I don't think those excuses will be sufficient to absolve them.


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