Thursday, November 18, 2010

Remember, they're watching (and recording) you!

While many have expressed appreciation for the cathartic released provided by various xtraNormal video portrayals, it might be a good time to be reminded that your students don't just have access to the same website, they are also often recording us in our fullest glory -- and then editing it down ...

For the record, I do include a "no audio/image recording without express written consent" clause (thank you major league sports) in my syllabi. But, seriously, what's an academic -- especially an adjunct -- to do? Lawsuit? Would that be before or after assignments silently stopped coming?


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  2. I watched the longer version on Vimeo; it's a total disaster for the douchebags who made it - too much crosstalk at the beginning, and the idiot cameraman chats with a girl off camera (their semi-snarky commentary goes nowhere; people, if you want to learn snarkiness watch old Mystery Science Theater episodes!) Really it's just a science prof trying to get his deadhead class to think about global warming. No "indoctrination."

    This Breitbart/James O'Keefe BS is beginning to wear thin, rightwingers...

  3. Speaking with a degree of sadness as an ex-conservative who was forced to reevaluate his politics after the rise of "movement conservatism", it really makes no difference at all to these people whether the longer video sustains their allegations or not because they know for a fact that none of their mindless followers are going to bother to watch it.

    Just look at David Horowitz. He's still peddling the same shopworn anecdotes about "classroom indoctrination" even after he proved utterly unable to verify a single one in his testimony before the Pennsylvania Legislature. The far-right lets him get away with it because it's taken for granted that teaching anything they don't understand or agree with is "indoctrination". So making your students analyze a work through a Marxist critique is not putting a new critical tool in their toolkit, but is "indoctrination", teaching evolution is "indoctrination", teaching the labor theory of value is "indoctrination" because Marx used it (never mind that Smith and Ricardo used it first), etc.

    And it's almost impossible to predict what they'll take as an assault on their views. I got my hands on a book published by Regnery called 10 Books that Screwed Up the World (And 5 Others that Didn't Help), and it includes The Prince by Machiavelli, The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin, Utilitarianism by J.S. Mill, Discourse on the Origins and Foundations of Inequality by Rousseau, Leviathan by Hobbes, and Discourse on Method by Descartes. The best part of the joke is that the author, Benjamin Wiker, works at an alleged "great books university" called St. Thomas College. Before I read this, I wouldn't have ever expected that Leviathan and Descartes' Discourse on Method would wind up on a right-wing hit list, but I think Wiker hates pretty much any intellectual development since the Reformation.

  4. I still go to classes--exercise, cooking, yoga, meditation, painting, poetry, local history, etc. I love being a student and I love learning. It is so hard for me to make the transition from those environments--no credit, everyone is interested, everyone wants to be there, wants the class to succeed--to the classrooms where I teach. The adversarial posture of a few students, the resistance to education, the focus on Me and My Grade, and now the "gotcha!" of video recording. I can see a lot of talented people bowing out or never signing up to teach.

  5. @ Nullifidian
    Ah, St. Thomas College...they used to advertise in "National Review." It doesn't hurt that William F. Buckley was Catholic and the school is too. Mr. Wiker is a Catholic ethicist who now works at the "Intelligent Design" outfit the Discovery Institute, so we can see how he butters his toast, and who pays for his toaster.

    Movement conservatism is an odd thing in America, because unlike in Britain, we never had an aristocracy backing a certain politcal party or ideology. The ideas that drove the Founders were radical in their time and it really took more than a century for true reactionism to set into the American mind. Notice however, that when modern conservatives talk about the golden era they want to go back to, the Eisenhower 1950s are looked on as a model. The unfortuneately now-defunct magazine "The Baffler" had a lot to say about the ideas of "movement conservatism"; mainly how they will absorb useful elements from the Left (organizational strategies, certain modes of protest) and never admit where they got the ideas from, the general feeling that betrayal lurks around every corner, their paradoxial need for working-class people yet their blinding hatred for unions, their unwillingness to admit that large chunks of the movement are bankrolled by certain corporations - it's a stew of contradictory things. I will say that the "movement" backs anti-Darwinism* because it brings in the religious voters, but they would never slam the Theory of Relativity because they love the weapons that were a by-product of Einstein's genius.


    * BTW, Mr. Wiker's next book is on how Darwinianism destroys Judeo-Christian-Islamic principles because materialism (somehow) destroys natural law. Should be a brain-bender on the level of Immanuel Velikovsky's "Worlds in Collision."

  6. I had one student whip out a cameraphone once when our class was in a giggling fit over a reading we did from the college newspaper. I made him erase it before leaving class.

  7. I've had a few students *ask* to (audio)tape paper conferences. That's fine with me. Taping my class wouldn't make much sense, since I rarely (and only briefly) lecture/present; the main focus is students *doing* things, and then discussing the results. But I'm sure if they recorded long enough, and edited with mal intent, someone could come up with a recording I'd rather not have on the internet.

  8. I admit there's a Facebook photo out there of me filming a student with my cameraphone while he films me with his. That it has not brought about my termination at the college, I am grateful.

  9. Is it inappropriate for me to say how much I've enjoyed Strelnikov's comments over the past couple of days? I don't mean anything by saying that. I just had one impression of him, and he's totally blown that. Great insight.


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