Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Heywood from Henderson With The Post Of the Week.

Hey there, fellow academic cats and kittens! Heywood from Henderson comin’ atcha from the bowels of the semester.

Apologies for not having submitted anything for quite a while. Things get twisted and tight up in here (in my head and at my institution) and I forget the balm of commiseration and co-miseration that’s available from interacting with my fellow sufferers.

In updates from the cornfields and the foothills:

1. Dr. Useless continues with the uselessness. Still braying about the halls with her outside voice. Still prancing about tee-heeing about her students (male) with her other students (female). Still wandering in and out of colleagues’ offices on a whim, parking herself on whatever surface (chair or otherwise) that’s available. Colleges on our hall/floor have taken to stacking books in the seats of whatever chairs they have in their offices to force her to stand during her narcissistic monologues. Which she does. However, there may be a light at the end of this misery tunnel – she’s announced that she’ll retire after next year.

The amount of quiet celebrating and surreptitious high-fives that this announcement caused very nearly cracked the foundation of the building.

2. Luckily, I’m still allowed to tell students that they are wrong when they are wrong! In fact, I’ve made a game of it. Literally. When students in traditional on-campus classes respond in class with an error, I thank them for playing and tell them that we have some lovely parting gifts for them, including a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat! Since the Dean in that originally linked fiasco was TWO Deans ago (and yet only 2 years ago), I figure I’ve got some leeway to be a smart-alecky hip hepcat with the young ‘uns until one of them feels bullied again.

3. I’ve completely stopped reading my student evaluations for the last two years. Since we all know they are farcical, tedious, and annoying, what did it matter?

Interestingly, not a lot, as it turned out. Or maybe a lot, depending on one’s viewpoint. Last semester, after two years of deleting the saccharine “your course evaluations are available!” email without clicking on the link, I decided to check in. Turns out, when I stopped caring what the little darlings thought of my attempts to be hip and happening, and just decided to go with my own hoppin’ flow in my lesson plans and classroom approaches, my stress levels decreased and my evals either remained the same, or increased. I’m going to publish these results in an appropriate journal, once I figure out how to say “told you so” in academic-ese.

Enough of the updates on old news. New complaints!

1. Last year, our beloved-in-their-minds administrators decided that it was important that students with remedial education needs feel as if they were making college progress faster. So, a complete overhaul of our remedial education department commenced, jukin’ and jivin’ with the prerequisites for classes and cut-off scores for enrollment. When the dice stopped slamming against the walls of our hallowed institution, students were now allowed to enroll in college level classes without the previous prereqs. The faculty ahem’ed, but the administration howled “no! no change! Co-enrollment model!” Attempts to explain the concepts of PRErequsites vs. COrequisites resulted in a drastic decrease in the supply of booze on the shelves of the local liquor stores.

Early research into the new model indicates students are failing the college-level classes at higher rates. For which the administrators are now questioning the faculty of those classes regarding the appropriateness of our standards. If this keeps up, there won’t be a stocked liquor store in the state.

2. Musical chairs continue in the staff. This Dean is now that Director and that Director is now the other Vice President, “until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew, Whether this one was that one…or that one was this one, Or which one was what one …or what one was who.” This means that when no one knows how to do something, it doesn’t get done. Good? Bad? Tune in next week!

3. Random student carping: Student M, ye of the short skirts and the vacant stare, the questions about things as esoteric as “What’s hamster biology?” (in a class on the development of hamsters) and “Why do we have a library on campus?” – you are going to fail, and I’m going to egregiously not care when your girlish giggle rises in dogwhistle pitches of frustration.

Hiram and others, I am hip to the frustrations when the page is slow, but I think the page is an organic, mellow jazz vibe at some times and a roaring be-bop tiger at others. I know my soul is soothed when I come here and read the posts of my fellow cats and kittens toiling away for the disciplines they love in the trenches they hate.

Peace out, until next time.


note from The Fab: Yes, this Tuesday post appeared on the
site Monday night. I labeled it Tuesday because
of my crippling insecurities and fears.
I will not get over these.
I have to live with them.
And so do you.
But, seriously, isn't it
a great post?
I love the idea of the full
update and the new angst.


  1. Excellent update and picking of new scabs.

    I am very sorry that this is not in fact Tuesday evening, as Tuesday will only bring more of the same shit I dealt with today.

  2. This post made me laugh and smile and say, "Fuck."

    Also, I am slightly amused by Fab's ability to distort time. What a pixie. Bless you.

  3. Great, great post. So many times we never get to catch up on past nuttiness, and Heywood has set the bar for all of us. Well done.

  4. Classic! Epic! And bonus points for the Dr. Seuss reference.

    May there be enough booze left in the state for the (very, very necessary) end-of-semester celebrations!

    Oh -- and congratulations on your colleague's retirement. Maybe a few deans would like to join her? (Nah; deans just move on to a "better" school. The only problem with that is then you get someone else's ambitious dean, and have to deal with hir desire to "make a mark" before moving on.)

  5. This is great, and the original Dr. Useless post is gold.

    It looks like the ostrich approach to remediation is here to stay. Time to buy stock in Liquor Barn.

  6. This kitten especially loves the cheerful snark of the Rice-a-Roni response. As for the Sneetches with stars upon thars, some of our best faculty association contract negotiators have gone over to the Dark Side and are now arguing for the adminiflakes. "Or which one was who" indeed.

  7. This is wonderful. Thank you. My department and one other (both involved in the need to remediate about 30% of our students) are developing classes like the ones you describe. I can't help but think they're going to be a train wreck, because we have students flunking the 15 week non-degree credit courses we have now, and it's not because they're bored.