Saturday, October 5, 2013

RYS Flashback. Six Years Ago Today. "The Fuddy Duddy."

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Fuddy-Duddy Post + a Quick Response!

I will admit to being and old fuddy-duddy in the academic wars. I taught my first college-level course in 1962.

I have read with some interest the endless caterwauling on this site about students and their entitlement. What students are entitled to is my best, my best as a professor, my best as a writer, and my best as a mentor. They aren't entitled to the kind of treatment they apparently get from their parents, friends, maids, and handservants, however.

In the 25 years I've been at my current post, I've watched the administration turn over and over in attempts to keep students happy. Not once in those years can I imagine a similar maneuver to please those of us who teach.

Long tenured and soon to retire, I don't give a tinker's dam what students think they need or want. I'm going to trust a lifetime in this discipline to guide me.

Those of who you are all tied up in knots about student evaluations and your own likability, might find comfort in another field. Why it matters so much to so many of you (via the reports I read on this blog) is perplexing. The colleagues of mine who also are of a certain age certainly don't worry about it, not one whit.

I do my job well. I still have a love for the field. I instruct and guide and those in the room who care and who work, learn. If it's old fashioned, then so be it.


...and a response

I'm a third year professor at a large state school in the South, and I want to say that Prof. Fuddy-Duddy is my new hero.

I have struggled with my profession ever since grad school, and his post today has had a freeing effect on me. I'm going to trust myself, my knowledge, my 20 years of college, and my experience in the classroom. I've jumped through the necessary hoops for a PhD in my field from a good school, and - although I've been cowed into not admitting this in the past - I know what I'm doing!

Prof. Fuddy-Duddy's simple and elegant explanation is the fuel that's going to keep me going in a job that I've questioned since the beginning. His note about being tied up by "likability" concerns cut me deep. I've been so worried about my students approving of me, liking me, that I've catered to their concerns, the concerns and needs of 18 year olds who simply don't have the background I have in the study of History.

I have their needs in mind. I want them to succeed. I want them to learn and be better students and citizens, and I've been prepared for this job. I am going to do it the way I think it needs to be done starting today. No fear, that's how I feel. Prof. Fuddy-Duddy has taught me today, just like I'm sure he's taught thousands of students in his long career.

If you could, please send a shout-out to him for me.


  1. Well chosen, Terry. Before my time at RYS, but brilliant. Fuddy Duddy should be a hero to a lot of us. Many of my colleagues over the years seem to have lost courage, even tenured ones. We are told so often to treat the darlings so carefully that it's worn some of us down.

  2. "Those of who you are all tied up in knots about student evaluations and your own likability, might find comfort in another field. Why it matters so much to so many of you (via the reports I read on this blog) is perplexing." For those of us not yet tenured, it matters because hostile students can spread criticism and dissent that acts like some kind of cancer, eating out our reputations and making it less likely that we will get tenure. It also matters because it can be depressing to face constantly students that are hostile or disinterested or self-absorbed. I don't care about being "liked", but I care about my job and my work environment.

    1. Yup. I give far fewer shits if they like me now that I have tenure.

      Although it nice not to be glared at for an hour every MWF.

  3. Truly, I don't give a damn whether students in intro "service" classes like me or not. And yes, I'm tenured (have been for the past 18 years).

    But you know what? Apparently I send the message that I'm indifferent to their opinions a little too clearly, and as a result my evaluations suck. It's one thing to boast about that here, but in class (apparently) you have to be a good actor, and pretend you care, even when they don't. And I'm a terrible actor. So my admins (from the dept chair to the provost) have me on this constant harassment chain, year after year having to write memoranda about how wrong they are. That's no way to have a career. This profession, at least for me, has lost whatever claim to joy it may have once had, and I can't wait to retire, or maybe emigrate to a place where students still know their place.


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