Thursday, February 28, 2013

How to get fired in one easy lesson

Ok, it is the Mirror after all. But it is funny. A friend sent me this today:
A university lecturer was sacked when he watched porn after class but accidentally ­broadcast the X-rated film across campus. 
The visiting professor sat back for his online sex show but forgot to unplug his laptop from the projector – unaware he was being filmed after cameras recording his lecture were left on. [...]
Where IT inexperience and porn greed meet, you have a new academic position opening up soon.

Extra Class.

I hit a wall this week with my classes.

They come from the worksheet generation. Literally, most of what they've done in school is take standardized tests and fill in worksheets. They haven't been asked to think, or to try to think, or to imagine that thinking means anything. They just have done things, filled in things.

My class is about critical thinking. They have to read stuff and figure it out, truly, unlock it, look into it, imagine ways to respond to it. There's not nearly as much doing as there is thinking. In our class discussions they have to exhibit this critical thinking through stumbling discussions where we work out - out loud - our thoughts.

They can't or won't do this. They sit in stunned silence. They don't read.

I'm teaching 10th grade.

And I have 15 weeks to get them to the end of a college course and ready for the next college course.

Now, this is probably vain, but I pride myself on never letting my students see me sweat, or flustered, or frazzled. But I couldn't keep it in. I let loose with a "WHAT-THE-FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-HELL-ARE-WE-DOING!"

I realized we were half way through the semester and that we were nowhere near going to finish the semester where we needed to be.

"We're behind," I said. "And it's partly my fault, partly your fault, and partly your school district's fault. We need to work harder if we're going get anything out of this semester. You aren't reading. You aren't participating. You aren't coming to class ready to do the work. And it's hurting your chances of passing. Now, everyone passes here at regional mediocre university But dammit, we're going to pass for real."

I released them and went to the departmental assistant. I found an empty classroom on Saturday afternoon and booked a 3-5 pm spot. And I booked another for next Wednesday, 7 pm. I sent an email to all of my classes. I called it "extra class for people who want pass."

I haven't figured out exactly what I'll do with them at these meetings. But I know we need more time. I might make them read from the book aloud, and let them start and stop and fumble and find meaning. I might make them write out short paragraphs that summarize what they've read. I've been teaching all this time thinking that was something they could or would do on their own. But I'm convinced that they're not.

I suppose there's some other option, something I'm missing, but extra class is all I could come up with.

Woe be to all of us if it doesn't work.

We Get It. You're Busy.

Good morning, Mandy Mutterer.

What did you say? You're looking for your students? They're looking for you? What?

Ah, you're muttering again about how busy you are and how much the club you advise needs you and how that impinges on your life and how valuable you are to them and how you're constantly busy doing things for them. And did you mention you're busy?

We get it. You're busy. Hey, so are we! We're so busy that we don't have time to mutter about it. We're so busy that we don't care if we get attention for it.  We're so busy that we really don't care how busy you are.

Except.   Mandy, it seems as if you choose to be busy and then you want an award for it, or sympathy, or something.

So here: have a cookie. Now please shut up.  Because I'm busy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

wednesdey mltiple-gess therstee

A. moratorium
B. liminality
C. death rattle
D. other

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Don't Give a Shit

Dear Mr. Bison,

I wanted to write you about the grade on my paper draft. I don't think it was fair to grade my draft that way. I think you should have graded my effort and not the quality of the work.

Confused Carl

Hi Carl, DR. Bison here.

Thanks for the feedback on my teaching practices, I can tell you thought long and hard about things. Sadly, grading for effort isn't approved in the faculty manual we have here at Type 7 Poop College. My boss tells me we grade for quality, even on drafts. You can't just wipe your ass on a piece of paper and expect to get an A, even if I call it a draft. You still have to put in coherent sentences, check your spelling, and a few goddamn commas. To be honest, my standards are extremely low. They get lower every semester. Want to know why?

I don't give a shit.

It's the emails I get from students. Take yourself. You've emailed me about your lengthy illness. Your child care problems. Your deceased relatives. Why you need to miss a certain day (no, we never cover anything important in class! Skip all of them!) That's life, and it's hard, I get it. I have one too (I mean, when I'm not responding to these emails, anyway). But guess what?

I don't give a shit. I don't give a shit if you turn in your assignment or not, or if you're in class or not. You are paying for this experience and I'm getting paid a pittance to give you high quality instruction. But you have to meet me here. If you don't come, I still get paid the same per class.

Ah, but I digress. Thanks again for the feedback on my grading. But I'm sure you've caught on just how seriously I take your email:

l don't give a shit.

Hugs and kisses,

Dr. Bison

A Warning

This article, written by a recently-retired high school teacher, has been making the rounds.  It doesn't contain any surprises (we knew we were dealing with the effects of NCLB), but it's still an interesting inside look at the effects of the testing culture, from the perspective of what sounds like a good, thoughtful teacher.

You are a college professor. 
I have just retired as a high school teacher. 
I have some bad news for you. In case you do not already see what is happening, I want to warn you of what to expect from the students who will be arriving in your classroom, even if you teach in a highly selective institution.  No Child Left Behind went into effect for the 2002–03 academic year, which means that America’s public schools have been operating under the pressures and constrictions imposed by that law for a decade. Since the testing requirements were imposed beginning in third grade, the students arriving in your institution have been subject to the full extent of the law’s requirements. . . .

Monday, February 25, 2013

RTF Instructions!

My students' first written assignment, a short essay, was due this weekend. It was designed as a relatively simple piece of work, its purpose being to give me some idea of whether these freshman and non-majors can read a chapter, synthesize some information, and write a coherent answer in response to a fairly straightforward question.

The assignment required no external research. It was based only on reading that they had already done (or, at least, were supposed to have done) for class. Not only had we already covered the reading, but we had also discussed in some considerable detail the very issue that they were being asked to write about. I had essentially given them most of the answers they would need to write the paper.

I posted the assignment on the LMS a few weeks ago, and told the students to read the instructions and to come to class, or to my office hours, with any questions they had about the requirements. For the next few weeks, I made an announcement in almost every class reminding them of the paper, and asking if anyone had any questions. A few students asked basic questions, such as whether they could write a bit more than the required length, and then we moved on.

And then came the due date, and the emails.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Open until filled

I'm counting down the days until the positions I applied for close. It's a fun game of wait and see and check the job wiki. One interview is scheduled already (one-year contract position in a nearby town). I'm really excited. I'm going to knock it out of the ballpark. I hope. This time. Really.

Do you guys know about the job wikis? Frightening stuff, but it really helps you see where most major universities are in the job search process. Of course, you have to take everything with a grain of salt.

It feels like my academic life has been "open until filled." I've tried to figure out what I want to do with this half-started, half-stalled career. The contract positions weren't bad, they just didn't do much for the "career" aspect of the profession.

I think I'll reinvent myself in industry if this year's (half-assed) job search doesn't pan out. I think it's time to grow up and face the fact I didn't win the post-PhD lottery. I'm tired of the anti-intellectualism and outright hostility in my classrooms. I'm tired of the sacrifice.

If I do leave for industry, I will give back my correspondent status. There's no need to take up a spot if I have no relevant misery to share with the group.

Student Learning Outcomes: Students will Grow the Hell up.

I have a new-to-me student, who is a major in my area of History and Theory of the Material Culture of Hamsters; student is in both my lower and upper-division courses this term.

I noticed this student right away, since we don't have many majors, and each week I give a painfully easy vocabulary quiz. I hand out two versions, with the answers switched up, so if you copy from the person next to you (which he did) you get everything wrong and I secretly think you're a jackass. First week. Grr.  He only did that the one time. . . maybe (one fill-in-the-blank question a few weeks later was the same very wrong answer as the next one in the pile, but whatever.

So we had the upper div course exam the other day. Student comes up to turn it in and starts that preemptive mewling noise they sometimes do.

"I don't know if I'm maybe underprepared for this course. . . I don't seem to be getting it. . ."

A Sunday Thirsty From The Film Faculty Fraud.

I'm a film adjunct at a large urban community college, and I have been feeling for a while like the fraud police are going to come and get me. I get good student evals, I've never been evaluated by administration -- I do my thing, it appears that students are getting it, and I go home. But there is a part of me that always feels like I could be doing more, teaching better, being more involved.

Do you ever go in to a class feeling less prepared than you should be, and then have everything turn out just fine? Have you ever gone in and just winged it? Do you feel guilty about spending little or no time prepping?

Q: Have the fraud police ever come?

PS: Note to Cal, this does fit the severe limitations of the Sunday Thirsty since it is definitely spiritual in nature, reason to be, existence, etc. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013



Percentage of the last 100 posts on CM that have come from an RGM:  59
Percentage of the last 100 posts on CM that have come from a Bubba:  6
Number of times Frod has deleted comments and rewritten comments:  3,531
Number of times Frod has admitted that he has always been inspired by Julius Sumner Miller:  0
Number of CM commenters who secretly have a crush on the Real Gordon Presto:  54
Number of insect fragments allowed by the FDA in a standard jar of peanut butter:  153
Number of hamster hairs allowed by the FDA in a standard jar of peanut butter:  5
Amount the average U.S. worker spends annually on coffee:  $1,092
Amount the average CM reader spends annually on alcohol:  $7,092
Number of Xanax pills Stella swallowed yesterday:  3
Number of people buried in the vacant lot behind Northeastern Ghetto Tech:  8
Number of times Bubba dreamed he was dancing with a Wilford Brimley doppleganger last night:  1
Number of people who have been traumatized by CM, but keep coming back for more:  4
Number of times those four people have argued about getting an intern for the compound:  37
Number of MacGuffins employed by CM (besides the duck):  276
Percentage of the CM Correspondents who will post original greatness between Feb 25 and Mar 3:  78

"What Are We Supposed to Be Doing?" From Wylodmayer.

I have been prompted by discussion of a comment I made on an earlier post - particularly by Froderick's responses - to wonder what, exactly, are we supposed to be doing up there at the front of the classroom?

Between my own natural inclinations and the influence of some of my grad instructors, I formed the opinion that I bear no responsibility for shaping good habits, teaching effective study methods, or otherwise inculcating virtue in my charges. What do I know about these things, anyway? I wasn't trained in educational theory, and am quite sure that any attempt on my part to act as if I was would result in misadventure.

I'm an expert in Hamsterology, and I'm dealing with adults who want/need to learn about it, so I present the material and leave their fates in their hands. Anything beyond that is not my problem or proper concern. My students might suck at BEING adults, but, again, I have thus far regarded that as emphatically not my problem. I'm enthusiastic, and I WANT my students to learn, and I'm happy that the bulk of them seem to acquire at least moderate competency with the subject matter, but I had not - until recently, as mentioned - really thought about whether it would be permissible/required that I translate my inchoate wish for a classroom full of polite scholars into some kind of active attempt to reshape what louts populate my rolls into such sainted personages (probably because I felt it was a pipe-dream).

So here it is - what about the rest of you? I get the feeling, if Frod's any indication, that some and maybe most of you take a bit more of a pro-active stance toward the cultivation of scholarship and citizenship in your students. I've stated my position and sketched my reasons for holding it, but I'm keenly interested to hear what my fellow CMers think on this subject, and why. Maybe I'm missing something.

Well, Duh (but good to have it confirmed, I suppose)

Courtesy of Inside Higher Ed:

Some Groups May Not Benefit From Online Education
Some of the students most often targeted in the push to use online learning to increase college access are less likely than their peers to benefit from -- and may in fact be hurt by -- digital as opposed to face-to-face instruction, new data from a long-term study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College suggest. . . .Students of all types completed fewer courses and achieved lower grades online than they did in face-to-face classes, men, African-Americans, and academically underprepared students had the biggest gaps between the two mediums.
Full report from Columbia's Community College Research Center here.  

This is not a surprise, of course, to those of us who have taught online.  It's also worth noting that these were probably relatively small, labor-intensive online classes, not MOOCs, which, as far as I can tell, would work even less well for these populations.

Friday, February 22, 2013


The dean met with the student whom I've allegedly been abusing. She brought a couple of college staff members who run a campus program in which s/he is involved. The dean spent a few minutes in general, get to know you kind of questions, then asked about hir complaint. S/he said s/he didn't have anything to add. The dean noted that s/he was being threatening in hir comments, as in legal action, implying legal action, and s/he needs to understand the severity of that.

The student came unhinged. Had to leave the meeting to get a grip. While the student was out, the staff members admitted that they were pretty sure s/he has a mental issue of some kind, and this behavior has been typical. The student wants to finish the class. I will not allow hir back, so will send work to these other staff people and let them administer it.

Jeez, what a fucking waste of time. Contingent Cassandra, I think you're spot on with the bordeine personality disorder. I'll seek out some information on it. I'm sorry you're having to deal with it. Thanks for that insight.

Until next time, thank you my brethren and sisters in Misery. Damn, I'm glad it's Friday. Bubba, pour me a double please.

Today's VidShizzle. From the Daily Eastern News at Eastern Illinois U.

The Daily Eastern News's real tag is: "Tell the truth and don't be afraid."

A Job Misery Potpourri.

A one year contract comes to an end, and all talk of renewal, and what a wonderful job I do has vanished like free beer around undergraduates. I have less than 3 months left to find something, anything. I was not expecting this.

I've applied for a temporary teaching certificate for 6th to 12th graders in my undergraduate subject. I've sent out applications to sketchy for-profits, counties smaller than where I grew up. No bites. My family lives here, and my parents are getting older. I don't want to leave.

I find myself wondering if is time to go back to being a secretary.


I was an internal candidate and clearly they decided not to interview me. They have not told me I am out of the running, but they avoid me and one of my colleagues did interview. Makes me wonder if people I know won't hire me, how do I get people that don't know me to hire me?


We interviewed a candidate recently. He’s a big guy wearing a dress shirt that seemed a bit too small. While giving a presentation about his research his middle shirt button popped off. Funny huh? Turns out he wasn’t wearing a t-shirt underneath. His shirt stretched apart to reveal a forest of dark belly hair. The audience stared. The candidate gulped. I announced that if this went any further, I’d want some bow-chicka-bow-wow music to set the mood. Everybody laughed and the candidate continued his presentation. We still stared at him for the rest of the hour and didn’t hear a damn word he said. He’s at the top of my list.


On a Skype interview yesterday, the candidate twice made the joke, "I like Skype because I don't have to wear pants." He made it once early. Nobody laughed. He made it again at the end.


A candidate wrote a lengthy thank you note, which is fine, but that contradicted three pretty important claims he made during the interview about his actual experience in a sub discipline we need covered. That's not fine.


A VAP job I applied for and campus interviewed for 2 years ago had listed the job again 1 year ago. The first time they hired a grad student from the same institution. Then the second time the job was listed I got a phone interview. They hired the grad student this time tenure track. This year I applied again (yes, I'm stupid), and got another phone interview, with the same committee and same questions. They hired another grad according to the wiki. I haven't got my rejection yet, but I've already got my letter ready for their position next year, too!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Most. Humiliating. Experience. Ever.

Yesterday we had an all-faculty meeting, as is the tradition once a month at our private SLAC. These generally end up being hour-long sessions where various Admins get up to make announcements and simultaneously show off their assistants' PowerPoint skills. Most faculty show up and look somewhat attentive. Given that I had an extra load of grading (which is also what has kept me away from this blog), I brought my laptop to the meeting, and, along with about twelve others (out of a group of 150), worked silently throughout the meeting.

Halfway through the meeting, one of the Administrators addressed a friend of mine whose iPad was open in front of her, and asked her to do a basic online search on something pertinent to the discussion. Said person complied, but then, after providing the info, hurriedly collected all belongings and left the meeting.

An hour later, I received a text from this friend requesting that I meet her for coffee to discuss "the. most. humiliating. experience. ever." I did not equate the experience with humiliation, but apparently, said colleague felt she had been humiliated in front of the whole faculty by being singled out in such a manner.

I tried to assure her that no one would have assumed she was being humiliated in front of everyone and that even the Admin requesting the info was not doing so to single her out. She is insistent that it was the most humiliating experience of her life and that she can never return to another faculty meeting.

So am I just missing something huge here? I feel like a bad friend for not supporting her and bolstering her by saying, "You're right; it was embarrassing." But to me, there was nothing embarrassing about it and I feel that if I claimed there were, it would simply encourage her hysterics. I wouldn't have felt humiliated if the Admin had asked me to look something up on my laptop (which was more visible than her iPad).

I've had embarrassing moments in teaching: usually involving tripping and falling, or sneezing and passing gas in front of students, but I just didn't see that her experience was humiliating.

What do the rest of you think? And if you feel like sharing humiliating experiences to help her situate her experience on the "spectrum of humiliation," that might help, too. 

We've Gotten Six Emails Like This In the Past Three Days.

On Thu, Feb 20, 2013 at 6:24 AM, Xxxx Xxxxxxx <> wrote:

Hello! I'm searching for advertising opportunity on Collegemisery. Do
you accepting sponsored posts or something?


Dear Xxxx,

We usually get $9,000 for a one time sponsored post.

But we guarantee it will be at the top of the page for 2 days. And some of our community members will turn it into a lousy song.

Thank you,
Herman Breedlove

The Big Thirsty.

If I Didn't Have This Gig, 
What I'd Like to Do Is 


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Message for a Special Snowflake

You've sat in the very front all term, in my favorite class. I love this group of students, and love teaching this class. It is a bright spot in my week, having prepared, engaged students who also seem to like the class. We have fun, and we cover a lot of material. You've been attentive. You've participated. You have always seemed jovial, and I've enjoyed our repartee.

A couple of weeks ago, right before class, you announced that "everyone" was confused about what to study for an upcoming quiz. Really? "Everyone"? Well, most people, you conceded. I pointed out that your personal experience was all you could speak to with confidence, and "everyone" hadn't come to speak with me. You chuckled and conceded I might have a point, and you said that YOU were concerned about the quiz. We both had a lighthearted, friendly tone during this exchange. At the beginning of class, I reviewed briefly, then asked if there were any questions. One asked about how many questions there would be, but no one--including you--asked any questions about content.

Last week I handed out the description for a writing assignment. A student asked if I wanted citations. Of course, I replied. You asked "what if people don't know how to do that?" I replied that this is a college-level class and I expect college-level writing. You asked if a certain writing class was required. I said no. You said that it wasn't fair that I was expecting college-level writing, and that I couldn't do that. Now mind you, you said this in your usual tone of voice--you know, the laughy happy one in which you've always made jokes. Oh yes I can, I replied, also in a joking tone. Everyone chuckled, and we went on with class.

No Duh. Hyper-parenting connected to depression in college students, study suggests. From the Boston U Daily Free Press.

Missy's in class.
I'm in the hallway.
I brought peanut
butter crackers
for when she's hungry.
Over-controlling parents may cause depression and other negative psychological effects in college students, according to a recent study. Boston University faculty said this trend of “hovering parents” and its repercussions could be tied to the cost of college.

“On a societal level, it could be partly the rising costs of college education,” said Julian Go, a BU sociology professor. “Parents are rightfully thinking of education as an investment. It pushes parents to be more concerned, or intrusive, in their investment.”

Researchers studied about 300 college students between the ages of 18 and 23 at a public liberal arts college and found those with overactive parents reported significantly greater depression and a lesser sense of fulfillment, according to a study released in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Child and Family studies.

“Our data suggest that an inappropriate level of parental behavioral control is associated with negative child outcomes,” the study stated. “Specifically, we found that helicopter parenting behaviors were related to higher levels of depression and decreased satisfaction with life.”


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nobby From North Dakota On The Tech Tip.

I hadsta break
out the landline!
My dream of encasing my classroom in a Faraday cage may soon be realized:

"Now Guy Eymin Petot Tourtollet, 46, scientific director of the French pulp and paper research institute Centre Technique du Papier, has invented a snowflake-patterned [ha!] wallpaper that blocks Wi-Fi signals, while still allowing FM radio and emergency frequencies to pass through."

Click this and/or this.

And for all of those commenters ready to chime in with, "well if your classes were more interesting, then your students wouldn't be on Facebook" please note that the product is being pitched to movie theaters.

If the focused efforts of the entertainment industry can't keep people off their cell phones, I'm not too optimistic about my chances.

CM Flashback. 338 (and a half) Days Ago Today.

More from Loveland Leona. She's Like SO Hard.

Let's say, for simplicity's sake, that my class is the History of Science. Most students do not want to take History of Science because they would rather just blow things up in the lab. They haven't yet realized that a Scientist must be well-rounded and know more than just how to blow things up in a lab. (My apologies to real scientists for the metaphor, but any more specific info would give me away) I just returned the students' first paper, where they were required to write a research paper about a specific scientist. I gave them some secondary sources but wanted them to look at the scientist themselves. (Primary sources and all)

I got an email from Flakely P. Flakington within 30 minutes of returning the paper. Apparently, I never "told them they had to talk about science in their paper." I grade too hard. I grade harder than last semester's professor. My expectations weren't clear. Flakely worked way to [sic] hard on this paper for it to effect [sic] her grade so much. Why didn't I require a draft? Last semester's professor required a draft so they could make sure they "understood what she wanted."

Let me get this straight. I required a thesis paragraph, two secondary source summaries, and a footnote formatting exercise, about half of which this student completed satisfactorily. I offered written feedback. I offered every week for students to come meet with me. I stated several times how important it was for them to look at the scientist and not just read the secondary sources about the scientist. But because this student didn't get the grade she wanted, it's my fault for not making my expectations clear. I should just give her an A and tell her to get the fuck out of my face, since she obviously doesn't give a shit about learning anything. If only I had tenure.

I'm sick to damn death of these brats telling me I'm so much meaner and harder than last semester's professor. I'm tired of them not being able to think critically. I'm tired of them being rude to me and refusing to take responsibility for their learning. Most of all, I'm so tired of them making me doubt myself, making me wonder if I am being too much of a hard-ass by asking them to talk about science in a science history paper.

Pam from Portland With the Job Misery.

I have applied to 60 positions. No one wants me. Rejection letter after rejection email after silence after failure after failure. It's hard to want to finish writing my dissertation. I don't even see the point of it. I've wasted enough time on something I thought I loved, but apparently no one wants me for anything. I've spent my 20s in school. All of my 20s. While my friends struggled to find jobs in the economy, they also managed to go on fabulous trips and start their lives. I feel like I'm in perpetual puppyhood. I have time, but no money.

I started having serious health problems while in graduate school. When I offhandedly asked about having children, then nurse cocked her head and said, "Well, if it really is [chronic condition], then you should have had kids when you were in your early 20s if you wanted a chance at getting pregnant." So, I gave my youth and fertility to graduate school. It was okay; I wasn't completely sold on having children. I could handle not being a mother. I wanted a career more any way. My choice to attend graduate school made that a reality.

So, when I began applying to the market this year and hearing crickets, well, it made me feel so crushed. I wish I could describe exactly what it is like to go look on the Job Wiki and see that other people are being asked to the Big Conference Dance and Campus Visits, and to know that no one wants to give you the time of day.

All the extra crap I did in graduate school in the hopes that it would make me stand out from the rest of the pack didn't mean or do shit for me.

Here I am, with a chronic condition, no funding after Spring session, and absolutely zero job prospects. I'm applying to everything. The local theater wouldn't hire to me be a manager because they didn't think I would be "committed to the company long-term."

"Cry Me a River (of Flakes)" • Angry Archie & Compound Cal.


Faculty wants University to Account for Foodservice Losses. From the Toronto Star.

Ryerson University faculty are outraged with the school’s decision to pony up more than $5.6 million to cover the losses of a food services company it employs — and they’re determined to hold the administration accountable.
Anver Saloojee, president of the Ryerson Faculty Association, said members were upset to read in the Star Wednesday that Ryerson has incurred losses for Aramark Canada Ltd., which runs the cafeterias and catering operation.
“Faculty are not happy with what has been revealed,” the professor of politics and public administration said Thursday. “We have every right to hold the administration to account for a $5.6 million shortfall that they had to pay Aramark for the last five years.”
The association represents more than 800 members including faculty, professional librarians and professional counselors. The executive will meet Feb. 26, where it will discuss next steps.
As the Star reported Thursday, students are also unsatisfied.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Reading Between the Lines

So the first significant step toward producing the difficult (but carefully scaffolded) Big Paper (which is noticeably different from the "research papers" many of my students have written umpteen times before, and would be happy to produce/recycle one more time) is due in class tomorrow. Some substantive questions are landing in my inbox, which is fine (there's nothing like a deadline to concentrate the mind, and we can usually make some progress in a round or two of messages), but I'm also receiving a lot of emails asking me to "clarify" what's due tomorrow, even though it's spelled out in great detail (with bullets!) in several places the course materials (which are online, on a site that uses the same password as email, so they haven't lost them).  Call me cynical, but in the absence of any sign of weather that might close school, I think the underlying message of many of these emails is: "please tell me I don't really have to think about all the stuff we've been discussing for the last month, and apply it to coming up with an idea of my own, sometime between now and tomorrow morning."

I think I should aim for an early bedtime tonight. Something tells me that tomorrow is going to be a tiring day (and that I really don't want to see the emails that come in at 2 a.m. tomorrow morning.  I'm guessing that's when the messages from people who suddenly discover they can't make it to class tomorrow will start showing up).

Philip H. Brown. Photo Enthusiast. 2011 Story By Request.

A pervert professor who allegedly set up a hidden camera to take photos of his female students in the bathroom has been forced to resign.

Philip H. Brown, an economics professor at Colby College, was chaperoning the students on a trip to China when the allegations emerged.

When confronted, Brown said the allegations were true and admitted to having done it before on a previous trip to China.

During the trip, students - who were writing blog posts on Brown's laptop - accidentally deleted an entry and it was while they were searching his 'trash can' that they found disturbing images of a fellow student 'naked from the waist down', according to an affidavit.

Brown, who has taught at Colby since 2003, is now being investigated by the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit but handed in his resignation at the end of last month.

Police seized his college-owned computer and other electronic devices during a search of his campus apartment on January 27, according to an affidavit filed in Kennebec County District Court in Augusta.

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

And we even walk upright!

It's taken me a while to get to posting this, but it was such a bizarre interaction that I have to share. I teach at a CC where it isn't unusual for students to just disappear a few weeks into the semester. Sometimes they magically reappear in the last week or so, foolishly believing that showing up the last week will somehow negate the months of absences and they will pass the class. At the end of last semester a student appeared in my class who looked vaguely familiar. He seemed like your average frat-boy-ish kid, chatted with his classmates, both male and female, and participated in class. At the end of class, he asked to speak to me. It turns out he had been in the class the first few weeks and then stopped coming except for the occasional cameo. He wanted to apologize for his lack of attendance and find out if he could possibly pass the class.

"I'm sorry I haven't been in class very much this semester," he said. "I'm really not a bad student or a slacker. I just have this problem when I have women teachers." (while my CM name may suggest otherwise, I am young(ish) and very conventionally feminine). "When my teachers are women I stare at them a lot during class and it just gets really awkward, so I just don't come to class very often."

Me: "....."

I mean, really, what do you say to that? I know, it's amazing, we actually walk and talk like real people! I have a hard time believing it myself!

"It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with female teachers. I stare at them."

I told him that this was something he would have to deal with because the world is full of women and that he had missed too much work to pass. I then suggested that he make sure his professor was a man next time-- we have plenty of them!

From the Williams Record. Sent in by Carly from Clarksburg.

Full disclosure. The student who wrote the article below is one of mine.

But my real concern with this issue is the amount of time it takes to comply with whatever sort of academic dishonesty code your college has. As my administration has encouraged us to be more proactive in tracking down cheaters, I'm spending more time on that and less time on actually teaching the students who'd never dream of cheating.

I resent it. I resent the cheaters, and I resent having to follow them along like some poorly prepared Sherlock Holmes.

There is a part of me, that I don't talk about at school, that says, "Let them cheat." I really don't give a crap, because they are cheating themselves only. A single student's grade means nothing to any other student's grade. Our students pay a tremendous amount to go here, and the pressure they face is quite high. I'm convinced that there's not a great deal I can do, yet I keep getting asked (in increasingly frantic emails from administrators) to do more!

I wanna reply, "F*%k it! Find the cheaters yourselves."


Honor in name only

By the end of the year, assuming that the current trend continues, a full 3 percent of the Williams College student body will have been found guilty of academic dishonesty by the Honor and Discipline Committee. If 3 percent sounds like a relatively small portion of our community, think again. Our best guess is that for every case that comes before the Honor and Discipline Committee, there are at least four infractions that go unnoticed.

To put the issue in perspective, the number of cases this past semester alone surpassed the yearly total of cases for every year listed on the Honor and Discipline website; in other words, the rate of infractions has quadrupled. While not every potential case results in a hearing, a full 11 percent of the Williams College faculty have expressed Honor related concerns this past semester.

It is the role of the professor to guide and to teach. Our academic community is cheapened and made less effective when our professors must provide both instruction and detective services.

The Rest.

CM Flashback. 2 Years Ago Today.


Am I a bad person?

Am I a bad person? I really love reading about some knucklehead who gets tenure at a wonderful SLAC and then five months later is forced to resign because he's a fucking knucklehead. Does this mean I'm a bad person? Is this what they call a "guilty pleasure"? Is it horrible of me to relish such moments?

Well then so be it! I didn't laugh about anything this morning. Not once. Not even a single little giggle or chortle. Then I read this story about the recently-tenured "best professor" who is a fucktard... and I finally laughed my ass off. I thank him. I thank you, fellow CMers.

Please don't condemn me. I get satisfaction when those who give us a bad name are brought down.

Forgive me.

RYS Flashback. Six Years Ago on RateYourStudents.

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

What To Do If You Are Afraid Of Your College Roommate. From WUSA in DC.

For many students heading off to college for the first time, it is a worry wondering who their roommate will be.

George Mason freshman Lauren Runion says she was concerned about that, given the recent shootings making news around the country.

But, for the first three weeks of school this year, Runion didn't have a roommate. Then fellow freshman Rachel Rudsky called to ask if she could move in. She was hoping to get out of a bad situation with her current roommates.

So, Rudsky met with her Resident Advisor who helped make the change. Now, the two new roommates are good friends.

Getting help is exactly what a student should do if they're bothered by another student. And even if a student lives off campus, he or she should still seek the help of their college's counseling services.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jerry Brown is wrong on research. From the Daily Californian.

Apparently, Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t understand the critical role of research at the University of California. In an article published last week in The Washington Post, Brown said professors should spend more time in the classroom and less time doing research, claiming that “the faculty’s primary role is teaching.” He then took aim at particular kinds of research, specifically devaluing the necessity of “producing new knowledge.”

Brown’s comment reflects a seriously misguided understanding of California’s higher education system. Most significantly, his remark is couched in a false dichotomy: that research and teaching are somehow mutually exclusive. Under Brown’s view, it would seem, time professors spend conducting research is time they could instead be spending in the classroom.

Also disturbing is Brown’s value judgment about the worth of certain kinds of research. In singling out “academic novelty” as an inferior or less worthwhile endeavor, Brown unfairly pitted different academic fields against each other.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Comments Are Being Moderated Temporarily... least until our current XXX VIDEO spammer goes away.

I'm pretty sure if you want some porn, you can find it on your own..

Today's Vidshizzle: Let's Play Quidditch!

You will have to click on the link below the picture in order to watch the video (sorry, it wasn't on youtube so I had no other choice).  If you can stomach through 30 seconds of advertisements, it's actually a pretty funny video.
                                        Quidditch Western Regionals « Good Day Sacramento

A Pointless Saturday Exercise.

The RYS/CM graphics
are exceptionally lousy.
It's one of the most essential
elements of our dying

Sometimes we find old graphics
and can't recall why or when
they were used.
(We know we could Gogol
that shit, but who has the time?)

What kind of post would go with this
graphic, in an ideal and fuzzy world?

(And what would the comments be?)

Friday, February 15, 2013

No, You Cannot Add My Class.

Dear Stupid Entitled Snowflake:

When you wrote an email to me on the last day of add/drop, asking to add my course because the hybrid section you're in isn't working out for you, I was in the ER being diagnosed with a 6.5mm kidney stone--after being up all night vomiting and feeling like Gd had personally decided to kill me--so I didn't get back to you. They gave me Percocet for the pain, and I kind of phased out once I got home.

When you wrote again on Sunday to repeat your (misspelled) request, I was fairly lucid, and I replied that it was too late to add my class because there is no way to get you caught up, since I had to have surgery (this past Tuesday) to remove the stone, and would be out of school this entire week. A week during which my classes were doing their work online. I was nice about it. I suggested that if you were really struggling with the hybrid format, you should drop the course and take it face-to-face in the fall, and I wished you good luck.

So why the fuck did I get an email from my friend the associate dean on Thursday asking if I could add your sorry ass to my course? I am looped to the gills on Percocet, but it strikes me as dumber than shit to try to go over my head to get what you want, and risk having to deal with me, pissed off and entirely unable to help you "get caught up on stuff" because I have been out of class myself for almost two weeks and have a ton of my own work to "get caught up on." Seriously. Who the fuck do you think you are?

Thankfully, the associate dean really is my friend, and it really is to my discretion whether to add or not add you to my roster, which is already over the CCCC recommended cap of 20 for a composition course (just like my other 2 sections!). Plus I have tenure. So bite my shiny, burnt metal ass, Snowflake. And you better hope that if you sign up for one of my fall sections that I'll have forgotten your little attempt at an end-run around my entirely reasonable refusal to accommodate you.

Professor Burnt Chrome

PS. At least you did not email me on the day of my surgery (as two of my very special flakes did) to ask me to “go over” your paper. So there is that.

Friday Thirsty: Scaring Them Off

Four weeks into the semester, I finally feel like things have stabilized a bit (and the big papers haven't hit yet, though they're looming on the horizon).  The first 2-3 weeks were pretty chaotic, and, in all likelihood, it's partly my fault: as one student who added on the last possible day said when I remarked that there had been a lot of adding and dropping: "you scared them off."  That's probably true; because I've taught the class before (and because two of my sections are online), I had all the major assignments ready and posted ready before the semester began, detailed instructions for everything on the course calendars, etc., etc.  The course involves a shitload of work, and that's perfectly obvious from the course materials (in fact, I deliberately try to discourage any online students who think the course will be easy with a "welcome" letter that contains as much warning as welcome). I had more than a few students in my traditional sections attend only one class meeting before they dropped, and some online students came and went before I even noticed they had registered (apparently they took one look at the LMS site and fled screaming into the night).

In some ways, this is a good thing.  I've probably got more students who are aware that the course will be hard, and willing to do the work involved, than I would otherwise.  (I've probably also got a few who simply got caught with a seat in the class when the music stopped playing -- i.e. add/drop ended -- and know that many of them will also drop or simply stop coming, forfeiting part of all of their tuition depending on when they take stock of the situation and whether/how they act on their conclusions).

On the other hand, even with a shortened add/drop period, dealing with all the coming and going is a real pain in the neck.  Realistically, they have to take this class, many of them will find it harder then they expect/think it "should" be, and it's not as if the majority of my colleagues are pushovers.

So, I'm wondering,

Q.  To what extent do you "scare students off" during the add/drop period, deliberately or by accident? Have you consciously tried to manipulate this phenomenon, and, if so, how and in what direction? Do factors such as trying to meet enrollment and/or retention targets, or trying to keep students from wasting tuition money, play a role in your decisions?  Do your tactics vary by level or kind of course (e.g. introductory/required vs. upper-level/elective)?

Extra-credit question (I don't believe in extra credit, but I'll make an exception in this case, since I've been wondering all week): what's the picture we've got in the background these days? Is that Ogden, UT?  The place where the rogue L.A. cop holed up?  The location of Frod's observatory?  All of the above?  None of the above?

Job Misery? Give it to the Universe.

Academic job season is in one of its hottest periods, campus visits, bad meals, roachy motels, leering silverbacks, and at least one drunken mistake at the end of the night. (Or maybe that's just our dream world!)

Send in any job misery current and ongoing, and we'll put together a little weekend post of the highlights.

Send yer misery to the RGM.

Former Lynchburg College Professor Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Filming a Student

Former Lynchburg College professor Auri Jones pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful filming of another Thursday.

This incident happened at Lynchburg College, where Jones was an adjunct professor.

Officials say investigators found a video on Jones' computer of a female Lynchburg College student. They say the video was taken without the woman's knowledge.

He'll serve 10 days in jail, all on the weekends. He was sentenced to 30 days, with 20 days suspended.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Condom Delivery on Campus. Today's Valentine's Day VidShizzle.

Order now!

What the Fuck is Up, Montana?

The "Johnny Bungalows" Episode of Vlogshizzlin'.

This Week's Big Thirsty From Horrible Meanie Prof.

Archeology/paleontology proffies have to deal with Barney-like dinosaurs.

Computer Science proffies have to deal with student who think that they will get a degree playing (and maybe designing) computer games.

Fine arts proffies have to deal with students who think that they will learn how to draw anime in their drawing classes.

Q: What important fundamentals of your discipline are undermined (and consequently difficult to teach) as a result of their (mis)representation in popular culture.

Fred, this one's for you.

Fred (aka Teacher Misery),
This documentary was filmed somewhere down South, but it probably could have been shot anywhere in the U.S.
It might explain a few things about why we have The Misery.
Humbly yours,

Watch The Revisionaries on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oh Goodie. Another School I Can't Teach At. U of Arkansas.

So what if I didn't
staple my report?

A proposal advanced by a House panel Tuesday would leave the decision of whether to allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns up to college and university boards after the lawmaker behind the idea changed his bill to allow schools to opt out.
The House Education Committee approved by a voice vote the proposal that would allow the governing boards for public colleges and universities to ban concealed handguns on specific campuses, areas of campus or buildings, a provision already included for private campuses.
Rep. Charlie Collins' original proposal would have required public colleges and universities to allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns.

From NBC News. Shocking.

Even though Tyrannosaurus rex is arguably the most recognizable dinosaur, college students asked to draw the prehistoric beast tend to get it all wrong, researchers say.

The average student's idea of T. rex more closely matches Barney the purple dinosaur, standing upright instead of pitched all the way forward like the real thing, a new survey showed.

"Our conclusion was that maybe students are imprinted with this image from their very earliest years," Cornell paleontologist Robert Ross said in a statement. "Even after they've seen 'Jurassic Park,' it doesn't change."


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stapler Angsty From Alfred in Anaheim.

After nearly 20 years of banging my head against the wall of declining student accountability, I about lost my shit today in class.

I teach Business Communications. It's a field, I have to admit, in flux. Many students for the past few years cannot get their minds around the need for traditionally formatted letters and projects. They want everything online, including homework, presentations, etc. The idea of printing something, formatting it, making it nice, etc. is just too much trouble.

Nonetheless, I require some projects turned in on paper with formatting, margins, and, oh God, please forgive me, a staple. I make it sort of funny. "If you give me a 10 page presentation without a staple, I'll put that on the dash of my car, I'll drive really fast home, and whatever pages are inside I'll grade. Everyone sort of chuckles. Maybe they're on the Tweeter. I don't fucking know.

Anyway, I took in 40 projects last week, multi-page, and 10 of them were just loose stacks of paper. One student had done that ridiculous origami paper-folding trick that is worthless.

Today I gave those 10 back. "Listen," I said, "following formats and instructions are part of the requirements for this class. I'm knocking 5% off of these and returning them to you until you turn them in as requested."

Most took them back without incident but one student stuck around.

"What did you think of it?"

"Of what?"

"My presentation. I worked really hard on it."

"Oh, I haven't read it yet. Once you turn it in as I requested, I'll give it a good read."

"Because of the staple?"

"Actually, not really, because you didn't fulfill the requirement."

"I don't have a stapler."

"Yes, I figured. They're handy. They're in most of the offices on campus, too, and I've seen students beg a staple or two in order to keep the machinery of the college going."

"You should make a stapler a requirement on the syllabus. That's sort of a trick."

"Yeah, I guess I'll add that next term."

"Oh okay," he said, suddenly smiling. "So you'll take my presentation now?"

An Early Thirsty From the Grumpy_Sergeant.

I tutor college students, and I run into an odd response when I inform, well, many foreign students that they are plagiarizing. It's a different response than the usual crud. The response, way too often, is that they are taught in their home country to simply explain their professor's theories and ideas. Of course, there is little to no attribution or worse it really seems as though they are trying to take credit for ideas or statements that aren't their own.

I call BS on a lot of these responses because the questions asked by most professors I've ever known never ask to rehash someone else's theory without at least making an assessment. (My major is humanities.) A summary is one thing but not giving proper attribution is very different. But I am told I just am not from there so I wouldn't understand. Supposedly I don't understand the academic culture "over there."

Q: What are your experiences with this?

“I’m Down For Drinks, Laughs, Sex”: The Sexual Harassment Claims That Brought Down Toledo’s Running Coach. From

It was a matter of rules and consequences, he said. On Jan. 24, Kevin Hadsell, the director of the University of Toledo's men's and women's cross country and women's track program, announced his resignation, a move that was as mysterious as it was abrupt. Hadsell had been at Toledo since 1998, and in the intervening years he had built the Rockets into a regional power, becoming an institution unto himself along the way.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, he was gone. "I want to apologize to the University, the Toledo community and the student-athletes, past and present, for letting them down," he said in a statement. "I have always told my student-athletes that there are rules, and that they must follow the rules or face the consequences. I hold myself to the same standards; it would be hypocritical not to. Therefore, I have submitted my resignation today as the director of women's track & field and men's and women's cross country." The school made a point of saying Hadsell hadn't violated any NCAA rules.

What Hadsell and the university did not say is that the coach was forced to resign after a female runner had accused him of sexual harassment. The runner, whom we'll call Andrea to protect her identity, had also revealed to the school that Hadsell had been in a long-term physical relationship with her teammate and friend.

Deadspin has obtained text messages sent to Andrea over the past five months from Hadsell's phone. They range in tone from the flirty to the frankly sexual, growing obsessive and paranoid as he learns of the university's investigation; until the very end, it seems, he was unaware that it was Andrea who had turned him in.

"I'm too fucking selfish," Hadsell joked to Andrea on Oct. 22, denying a relationship with the other runner, whom we will refer to as Caitlin. "I'm down for drinks, laughs, sex. Other than that I value my free time." Earlier, he had told Andrea: "Not gonna lie. I would hook up with [Caitlin] (I havmt) but if she wasn't psycho I would." He added, "If I fuck her I'm fucked." And: "It may be a good ride. Just sayin."


Vog3lfr3i Says: Relative Grading is Stupid. From InsideHigherEd.

Zack Budryk

Since he started teaching at Johns Hopkins University in 2005, Professor Peter Frölich has maintained a grading curve in which each class’s highest grade on the final counts as an A, with all other scores adjusted accordingly. So if a midterm is worth 40 points, and the highest actual score is 36 points, "that person gets 100 percent and everybody else gets a percentage relative to it,” said Frölich.

This approach, Frölich said, is the "most predictable and consistent way" of comparing students' work to their peers', and it worked well.

At least it did until the end of the fall term at Hopkins, that is.

As the semester ended in December, students in Frölich’s "Intermediate Programming", "Computer Science Fundamentals," and "Introduction to Programming for Scientists and Engineers" classes decided to test the limits of the policy, and collectively planned to boycott the final. Because they all did, a zero was the highest score in each of the three classes, which, by the rules of Frölich’s curve, meant every student received an A.

“The students refused to come into the room and take the exam, so we sat there for a while: me on the inside, they on the outside,” Frölich said. “After about 20-30 minutes I would give up.... Then we all left.” The students waited outside the rooms to make sure that others honored the boycott, and were poised to go in if someone had. No one did, though.


Monday, February 11, 2013

“Whoa, hold it,” I shouted, “Hamster cells?”

"Yes," he chuckled. "You see, hamster cells are very robust."

I know why some students were not in your class today.

I would contribute more to College Misery but I have to confess. My students, even the bad students, are not that bad. At least, not as bad as the morons you people describe.  My school's VP of admissions told me just last week how high our standards are (or was that, "how high our standards committee gets"?) so I know there must be some mistake.

I’m letting you know that a few of your idiots got on a bus and made their way down to my neck of the woods. They appear in my office but I’m sure they are just lost. Let me know what address to staple to their foreheads so I can reunite them with their loving professors. I know they miss you so.

Confident Carl: Yes, I’m sure you did great in high school chemistry. You have to take freshman chemistry, just like everybody else. No, I don’t need to see all the notes you took in high school. No, I don’t need to see your high school transcript. No, I will not call your old chemistry teacher.  You still have to take this class. Suck it up, get an A and stop bothering me.

Well, Carl got an 82% on the first exam. Lots of silly mistakes but he knew everything, he assures me. Don’t suck it up Carl, just suck it.

Obvious Ollie: “Where does Dr. Smith hold his office hours?”

This question can't be that dumb, can it?  “Um. In his office.”
I assumed the student would follow up with, “That's what I thought but she’s not there.” or “Of course, but where is her office?”  Any suspicion of intelligence was unfounded.

OO: “OK! Just wondering.  Thanks!”
Sugar, there's a bus seat with your name on it.  On a bus.  At the bus station.

Reading Ryan: “I had trouble remembering the stuff you talk about in lecture. Is there a book that has that information in it?”

I know that Ryan must attend some other school.  (God, please don't let me work at a school that admits this kind of stupid.)  I’ll still make him by a textbook for my class at our bookstore before I drop him off at the Greyhound station.