Monday, September 23, 2013

Today on "Professor Facepalm."

Professor Facepalm brings you tiny, bite-sized misery!

Yes, I said "fuck." Or, more accurately, "So what the fuck was all this shit about a cave and shadows and whatnot really about."

Yes, this is how I teach.

No, I cannot actually "get in trouble" for this.

No, I don't particularly appreciate you expressing your concerns that I would "get in trouble" for this to my boss.

No, I don't believe it was done out of "concern," you passive-aggressive twits.

No, I have not forgotten that you're still sulking from being told on the second day of class that if you keep talking during the lecture I'm putting your asses out of the room.

Yes, my boss knows about that little incident.

Yes, he also thinks you're both idiots.

Yes, we did make fun of you both. Mercilessly.

No, this isn't high school.

(Takers on how many more times I'll have to say that to these two this semester?)


  1. Ah, my song--you are singing it, loud and proud! Just be careful--one of my tenured colleagues has been reprimanded from on high for using humor and "inappropriate" language in hir class, because when a student complained, the student used the word "hostile" in the complaint. My colleague is an excellent teacher with consistently high evaluations from both students and hir peer colleagues. My colleague has hired a lawyer, and is fighting it, on academic freedom grounds, among others. But still...the customer is always right...

    I modulated my commentary for about 10 minutes...

  2. I generally bust out "fuck" about three or four times per semester. I don't mind when anyone swears in class, but I like it to be infrequent enough that it either packs a punch or makes some students laugh.

    As an example, every semester when we're trying to calculate the wind resistance of a hamster based on the type of fur it has, we eventually get to the example of a bald hamster, which makes the formula significantly more complicated. The students get nervous, and I always take a step back and say, "Well, fuck." It gets them to laugh (that the professor also realizes how complicated the situation is), but then I point out that even though the formula looks harder, it's actually easier to solve in the end. So even when we have a moment where we just want to shout out, "Fuck!" it might not be as hard as we thought and we must still think clearly and proceed carefully.

  3. Well, if it's just to wake 'em up, okay. But honestly if a prof is peppering every class with dozens of f-bombs, that's, er...I guess the word I'd use is "unprofessional".

    1. That's fair, I guess, and totally your call to make. That said, I will stand on the strength of my teaching evals, students' subsequent performance, research, professional development work, and institutional service. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say those things matter just a bit more in the calculation.

  4. I envy all of you free fuckers. Where I teach, if I said "damn", I'm sure I'd be called to the Dean's office the next day. Maybe the same day.

    But Wylodmayer, I'm curious about something. Clearly your boss has your back. But also hir boss has hir back (never used the pseudopronoun before, don't like it), and that person's boss has hir back, and so on up the finite directed chain of bosses. Otherwise, the "weak link" in the chain would already be known to the students, who would go directly there to report their butthurt using choice words like "hostile". So all your bosses are free fuckers, lucky you!

    1. Well, not all my bosses, and I'm not trying to test their freedom, either! It's less a matter of my boss's boss being similarly liberal minded and more a matter of my boss's boss not knowing or caring, which I'll admit is similar. Plus, as I said, I'm not trying to test the limits of the tolerance. Part of is just how I talk, and part of it is calculated for effect; it's no coincidence that the profanity (never directed even remotely at the kids, either, of course) ramps up a bit as I am discussing "my eyes glaze over" stuff. Is it manipulative, even cheap? Sure. Does it keep the students just a BIT more involved with what I'm saying? Absolutely, at least in some cases. I'll take it. I hate myself for it, but I'll do it if it means my class is just that tiny bit less likely to zone out on me when I'm going over stuff I intend to test them over.

      Mind you, I'm a pretty entertaining guy anyway, but sometimes... well, you need what help you can get. Especially when 99% of your students are non-majors and underprepared by their secondary schools to boot.

  5. I don't remember any of my proffies using much profanity back in the day, but it's possible that it just didn't bother me. However, I dropped a class because of the gross, winking, rah-rah way the proffie talked about sex (it was a Human Sexuality class.)

  6. I teach several lessons on the effects of . . . um . . . hamster language? In those lessons, I speak about the origin and development of various bits of profanity. It's pretty much impossible not to say "fuck" in such classes. I have had some complaints, but never all the way to my chair.

  7. I'm at a Christian SLAC. I've never heard so much profanity in my life. These kids have learned some serious profanity. And now that they're in college where no one chastises them for it, wow: I've learned some new vocab. But if I even so much as say "Damn," I get their heads swiveling and someone running to my chair about how I dropped a "damn" in class.

    I'm glad your chair has your back. That just sounds silly...

    1. That's interesting. One of my best friends teaches at a Christian SLAC where the students have to sign a contract to not have premarital sex. This college has the highest rates of abortion and STDs in the region.

      Sigh. Of course they fuck. But if my friend *said* "fuck" she could get fired.

    2. ^This comment and replies needs to be POW, or COW, or DUCK, or whatever is most awesome.


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