Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kimmie Sez "Oh Why?"

Why do I sometimes feel as if I'm teaching middle school?

Why don't my students believe me when I tell them how much time a project will take?

Why am I not tougher on them?

Why do administrators care so much about the flakes and parents and so little about me?

Why don't I just flunk the little bastards who don't match my 1998 standards and damn the costs?

Why am I afraid?

Why do they come to college if they don't want to learn?

Why did I used to feel so proud to be a proffie, and why do I now feel I have to apologize for being one?

8 comments:

  1. Nicely put, Kimmie!

    The standards! My God, the standards. I, too, see how I've changed. It makes me crazy sometimes. I know I'm letting them by with a bit less and it makes me crazy.

    But at the same time I'd feel odd being the only one in my department holding the line. And I like the folks in my department. But we've all softened. I want to have more courage.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's something of a variation on Upton Sinclair's "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

    We are softer now than when we started for many different reasons. Not least of which is knowing that we are getting students who have been hammered by NCLB and come to us less prepared for college work than any other generation in history (hyperbole, maybe, but maybe not--even the GIs who came on the GI bill knew how to work and follow directions).

    Those of us who teach at open access institutions have even more issues that have us asking "Why do I keep doing this?" But those are for another post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In my dreams I can hold them to 1978 standards. Even as a C student my first few years as an undergrad (except in my major) I did the reading and got my papers in on time.

    OTOH, my attendance sucked and my notes are embarrassing to look at now. At least I didn't make up excuses. (My grandparents all remained alive and well and I didn't own a car to break down.) I just was young & immature and I paid the price with my grades. As I matured my grades went up. That's what bothers me about the whole standards issue. If we can't let students fail, we hinder their ability to become adults.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anyone remember when they said in high school, "half of you won't make it through freshman year?" Worked for me! I went in scared.

    Do they still say that sort of thing now? I doubt it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My freshmen always tell me that their high school teachers scared the shit out of them about college. "You won't get away with THAT in college," they report they are told.

    Then they get to my institution and they say, "College is fun. It's easy!"

    Now, who's fault can that be? Maybe I'm to blame, too. Worrisome.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Why do I sometimes feel as if I'm teaching middle school?
    Because that's where their minds stopped growing.

    Why don't my students believe me when I tell them how much time a project will take?
    Because they've rarely been held to a standard or consequences.

    Why am I not tougher on them?
    Are you trying to be liked, and thus get good evaluations? I realize that if you don't have tenure you're almost forced to.

    Why do administrators care so much about the flakes and parents and so little about me?
    Because they're running McUniversity and want to keep the customers happy.

    Why don't I just flunk the little bastards who don't match my 1998 standards and damn the costs?
    Tenure not yet achieved.

    Why am I afraid?
    See above. Although, if you got a job in the private sector (not anything that is subject to customer reviews) you might be happier. You could produce good work and be rewarded for it.

    Why do they come to college if they don't want to learn?
    They just want the diploma.

    Why did I used to feel so proud to be a proffie, and why do I now feel I have to apologize for being one?
    Don't ever apologize for it, Kimmie! You are doing a tough job to the best of your ability.

    Perhaps it's time to give serious consideration to founding the Froderick-Strelnikov Polytechnic Institute. Sort of a Marine Corps university. If you survive to get your diploma, no one will question your credibility.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary: This answers Kimmie's questions quite well.

      Kimmie: Your questions are now getting harder.

      One reason why I am still deeply ashamed by what creampuff I can be with regard to grades is that I spent many years before tenure being mentored by creampuffs who were overly concerned with students' self-esteem and customer satisfaction, and whose new mantras are "student learning" and "student success." It inculcated many bad habits that I am doing my best to pass, in the manner of kidney stones. It's painful.

      I hear that Caltech and M.I.T. are still pretty tough. Whenever I say this, I am often rebuffed, "Middlin' State ain't Caltech or M.I.T." The next time someone tells me this, I am going to retort that you'd cream in your jeans (or jump at the chance, if it's the university president) if you or your kid could get into either.

      Delete
  7. As Gary says, being in tenure track makes us all go easy on the students to be loved, well evaluated and, eventually, promoted. Now, I do not know if anyone else had the same experience but, after getting tenure it seems impossible to raise the standards to where they should be.
    Have I been assimilated by the Borg?

    ReplyDelete