Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I wish I had quit instead of giving in to the pressure of my colleagues, my students, and my administrators.

For reasons everyone here understands, I've been encouraged into edutainment, and my classes have gotten easier and my grades and evaluations higher.

If I were younger, and still spined with ambition, I wouldn't have let it happen. But the academic world seems off its rails and I'm close enough to retirement to taste it.

And each semester's worth of fudging and "fixing" and changing my classes made the next step easier and more palatable.

My mentors would not have done these things. They would be turning over in their graves (or assisted living beds) if they knew I was.

But I've been beaten by it. I'm embarrassed at the professor I've become, although I've never been more popular or lauded. (I won an award! I nearly choked on it.)

I write this admission because I hope most of you are fighting the fight I gave up on. I won't sign my name. I'm a failure and not worthy of being remembered.


  1. Replies
    1. Now see, I thought for sure you were going to be linking to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc8crnqKEns

      My age is showing.....

  2. It sounds like you've had a hard semester (year, decade, career). It also sounds like you might be depressed (in which case a consultation with a competent mental health professional would be in order; note that not all the negative observations that come with depression are inaccurate; the academic world is, as far as I can tell, off its rails, and, given that you're in one of the cars, that probably means you're not exactly centered on the track either, but it doesn't follow that you, personally, are a failure).

    It also sounds like you could really use a year, or at least a semester or summer, off. Any chance of your getting that? Or of your taking early retirement?

    Whether or not any of the above are possible, and preferably once you've had a chance to breathe and reflect a bit, perhaps with some support, I'm wondering if there's anything you can do with whatever prestige, authority, power, or at least protection that award brings, and your knowledge that things really aren't working well at all. It seems to me that you're in a position to speak truth to power, or at least make the occasional well-timed comment on the emperor's current outfit. Heck, maybe you could write something for the Crampicle. It looks like they'll take pretty much anything these days (but people do still read, and comment).

    But most of all, take care of yourself. It sounds like you've been doing your best under difficulty conditions (as, no doubt, your mentors also did, while also making mistakes of their own); all you can do is regroup and do the same (whether inside or outside the academy).

    It's also very likely that a good many students are learning something from you, whatever the delivery method, grading scale, etc. Though it isn't always obvious, human beings actually like learning, and tend to do at least a bit of it given the opportunity.

  3. Try to just stay afloat. When everybody else is drowning, treading water is progress.

  4. I have, unfortunately, lowered my standards and expectations of students over the years. Some might say I'm doing a good job of accommodating our actual student body (working students, first-generation college students, etc.) and I'm a more effective teacher with my more realistic standards, but that's probably just BS.

  5. Some of this is self preservation. I figure I grade about a full grade higher than I'd actually like to. But I grade harder than most of my colleagues. Don't beat yourself up. Just aim for students leaving your class knowing more than they came in knowing.

  6. Every day, I bet you help someone. Every day, I bet you do.

    Teaching is an amazing profession, for all its horrible qualities, because we are in a situation where every day (or most days) we can help people, or at least one person.

    Confession: I actually started work in the tutoring center because I wanted---needed that. To feel like I was actually helping someone most days. In the classroom, because of all the bullshit, I don't always feel that way.

    I can't know for sure, but I'd bet that because there is a strong disconnect between what you thought you'd be doing, and actually ARE doing, you cannot see the value in the little things each day.

    My hope for you is that you can find that value. Teaching is still a wonderful profession (in my mind) because we are presented with all these people who need our help, and are looking directly at us, at little old me, to give that help. You give more than you realize, I am sure.

    1. I really appreciate all the comments, especially Bella's and Cassandra's, two writers here who I have long admired.


    2. Please keep coming here. Even if we can offer no words that would comfort you, we can sit shiva with you in silence, that you might know that your grief is shared.