Sunday, December 25, 2005
A Mini Manifesto From Maine.
A tenured professor in the arts at a public college in Maine sends this along:
Okay, if we're going to be all feel-goody for next year, here are some rules I want the students to play by:
If I ask you to read a book, or go to a gallery, or watch a video, I really mean it. It's not just some random thought I've had. My assignments are designed to raise your level of knowledge. If I assign it, it's a real thing. It's not just being all ‘teacherly.’
When someone else is talking in class, addressing class - even if it's me - that means you are to shut your pie hole and listen in. When I ask you a question, I'm asking a serious question, one that has to do with your ability to pass the class. It's not optional. It's not as if I said, ‘Uh, Marcella, if you don't want to I'll understand, but would you care to tell me what you know about cubism?’ I mean, ‘Tell me what you know about cubism from my handouts, the textbook, the film I showed, and the gallery we walked through for 2 hours last week.
Your life in this class hangs in the balance.’ I think my field, my class, and my life work is important. When you make fun of it, or tell me that you just took this class for fun because it's so much easier than your major, it makes me think you're an idiot. And that's not really what you want out of this relationship.”
Our classes end at 50 or 30 minutes past the hour, depending on the class and the day. I can keep you in your desks until that time if I choose. When it's 9:45, and you're hungry, or Mitch is waiting at the Commons, I really don't want to hear you start shuffling around and slamming stuff into your bookbag. If I cheated you out of 30 seconds on a test, you'd likely call the Dean's office.
I won't know your final grade for the semester until nearly the end of the semester. Your grade up until that point - you should imagine - is an F. You have to WORK to earn a grade. You have NOTHING at the beginning, and you have you do work in here to EARN points and EARN a grade. If you ask me in week three what your grade is, it's going to be an F. It'll be an F until about the 13th week. There's no way in the world I'm going to GUESS a grade for you so that you can relax and concentrate on Economics or something.