Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thank You.

It was real sadness that - after consulting with Fab and a handful of other veterans from RYS and CM - I have closed the blog today.

I believe that the blog did a lot of good. The archives will remain up at this location.

The great majority of folks who have visited here have extended incredible kindness. I have been changed by the experience.

If I failed Fab and the rest of you, please accept my apologies. I did what I could for as long as I could, and despite options to keep the page open, we all felt that it had run its course.

Of course there will always be online options for college proffies to vent, and I hope that the enterprise started in 2005 at RYS will continue in some form.

I have made dozens of friends amidst the misery, and those of you who know me know how to find me.

Leslie K.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nothing New

Three pages.  Easiest thing we read all semester.  Short, simple amuse bouche for them to practice on before we get to the meat.
In Hell, all images
are left-alligned

Jason, how would you summarize the problem this essay addresses?  What question is it wrestling with?
I didn't read it.
Maryanne, how well would you say the author succeeds in answering this question?
I didn't read it.
Blethbracht the Desolator, why do you think he used that example there instead of a different one?  Do you think it's apt?
I didn't read it.
Lilliachrath-She-Demon-of-Anguish, why do you imagine there's this strange little digression before page three?  What's the point of that?
I didn't read it.
Shathan-Ur, He-Who-Flees-the-Light, do you think this author could be fairly characterized as a Platonist, or not?
I didn't read it.

And I looked out at their blank, cold faces, met their empty and pitiless gaze, and realized the truth.  I was in hell.  Hell is today's class, every day, forever.

bad haiku anthem for the first monday in february

it's yesterday's news,
but many different rodents
have predicted an

early spring--or an
elongated winter. that
defines everything

we know: every
option is correct, whether
we account for the

relative or the
bias or the bluster or
the sane or the sound

The Room

The man stepped into the room and scanned the bank in front of him.  No fire.  No spark.  No signs of life.  Just wet snow sitting thick and sullen and gray on the cracked and wobbling fiberglass seats.  The far door banged open and shut in the wind.  With each gust a few more flakes wafted into the room and floated aimlessly for a moment before settling into desultory drifts in the back corners.

*     *     *

The room was cold.  Above the man’s head an old duct with a rusting grate still blew, disgorging more dust and mold than warmth.  The scavengers had taken most of the heat.  They had taken most of everything.  He had encountered the scavenger bands at times.  Their trimmed beards and whitened teeth did little to
hide the steely gleam in their Lasik-corrected eyes.  They came armed with ledgers and budgets and they brandished strategic plans.  And always they demanded more.  Like rats at the carcass of a fallen muse while the ivory tower faded and became caked with ash.

*     *     *

Say Hi To Professor Peregrine Who Goes Old School on The RTFS Tip!

I’m sitting in my office and I just want to bang my head against a fucking wall because the snowflakes are trying to kill me. I swear they are.

I had half a lecture planned for this morning and the other half was to be student presentations. Five of them. Of those five, only ONE fucking student bothered to show up for class. I was IRATE and in my irateness, I chastised the entire class. At 8 am on a cold and dreary Monday morning. Which was probably unfair since the four who deserved chastising weren’t even there, but at least I put the fear of god in those that were.


As if that wasn’t bad enough, I have gotten, in only 4 weeks of classes requests from EIGHT students to make up labs that they have or will be forced to miss for various (dubious, at best) excuses. Labs that I state specifically on my syllabus CANNOT be made up for any reason. I go over this in class. Each of the eight requests began with “I know you don’t offer make-up labs, but…."

BUT NOTHING. There is no fucking BUT. You are there or you are not.

RTFS, Snowflakes. RTFS.

I try to be accommodating. I try to be reasonable. I understand that weather / sickness / sleeping in happen. We’re all human. BUT, if you choose to go on vacation during the school year, too fucking bad. I don’t get to go on vacation.

It seems that they more accommodating I become, the more they push my limits. And I am tired of being a sucker.

They are trying to kill me. It’s the only explanation.


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Monday, February 3, 2014

Mixed emotions

On the cheerful side, it's kinda cool that "I want to build space robots" can be a serious aspiration these days, rather than a comic-book-inspired fantasy. 

On the less cheerful side, it's not a good sign, is it, when a student who added at the last possible minute emails an instructor 6 days later to introduce hirself, and ccs the email to two people with the same last name as the student (and non-uni addresses)?  I, of course, replied to sender (only), but none of the possible interpretations of the family dynamics underlying that cc: that I can dream up bode well for the kid's ultimate success in the class. I will, however, strive to keep an open mind. 

Finally, I'm wondering if I'm being paranoid or appropriately cautious to feel a bit apprehensive about the fact that an unusually high proportion of the students in my online class (c. 1/3) are in the exact same major, and probably know each other in person (while I, of course, wouldn't recognize any of them if (s)he ran me over with a skateboard at high noon on the main campus walk). 


Maybelle is still around

Hello CM!

I've been here: reading, but not commenting. I wanted to write a post about my life, but it was job season, and an abysmal one at that.

The academic job market wasn't even sniffing at my applications. Sure, I could hold out until the visiting positions start posting in March, or I could start looking at adjuncting again, but after my experience with Misleading U, well, I won't do it again.

With my COBRA coverage running out and a certain website being a complete disaster, I took stock in my life.

I have many tales to tell about the whole process (ordeal?). The good news is I celebrated the New Year with a new job. With benefits.

I miss teaching. I really do. But, I also had a health issue that needed to be addressed. I'm able to see a physician regularly (and afford the co-pays). Trying to feel well again has become my top priority.

I miss researching. I miss having students. I miss who I thought I would have become.

I do not miss begging at the academic table for a place to sit.

On General Ed. Frenna Sends In Some Links on "Filler Classes."

from the Iowa State Daily:

I already know what
I want to study!
We come to college in search of one thing: knowledge in our chosen program of study. Getting a college degree is supposed to help us easily find an entry-level job after graduation. Eagerly, we follow our designated four-year plans to a tee, in the hope of achieving the most out of our education.

There is a flaw in this system. In reality, students are being cheated out of valuable course hours by taking classes that will never be of much use in their future careers. These precious hours are wasted on what are known as general education requirements.

From the start of our first semester, general education classes fill the credit count towards our graduation. These courses are supposed to turn young, fresh college students into well-rounded adults. Each college at Iowa State requires a certain number of credit hours in the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and mathematics.

Each of those categories carries valuable knowledge to offer the students attending Iowa State, but students are required to take a ridiculous amount of these filler classes before graduation.

The rest of the misery.


from the Ames Tribune.

On Wednesday, I read a great satirical article in the ISU Daily. It was titled “General education requirements waste students’ time” and was written by Jamie Wandschneider.

The setup for this hilarious piece was that “students are being cheated out of valuable course hours by taking classes that will never be of much use in their future careers. These precious hours are wasted on what are known as general education requirements.”

Wandschneider proceeded to talk about the waste of time imposed on students when they have to take courses in the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and mathematics. These were referred to as “filler” classes.

What a hoot!

More misery.

Service Restored.

Our Blogger / Google rep writes:
"I wouldn't term it a hack, since the person(s) who accessed the site did it through a legitmate user account. I've turned off administrative and user controls to 3 accounts that seemed to be involved. At your discretion you can delete or reassign those accounts."
I called Cal this morning and he has set things back to normal. I apologize for the brief interruption of service. I believe any posts that were intended for today did make it online, and are showing up in Chrome this morning. Firefox users tell me they are still getting a blank front page, but with our background and header back in place.

I asked our rep about any possible security or privacy concerns:
"It does not appear that any login information was used or even accessed beyond the three accounts I've flagged. I note that two of these are new accounts (Dec, 2013 & Jan. 2014). Nothing else seems to have been corrupted."
Just let us know if anything seems amiss on your end.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Portland Pauline Poses a Sunday Thirsty on Honor Codes.

I am relatively new to teaching, but not a complete novice, but have run into a situation I find completely bizarre and I'm mostly trying to see if it really is as crazy as I think. I am teaching for the first time at a school with an explicit honor code. Each student must hand write the honor code on each assignment, and all exams are self policing. No proctor at all. Whatever I think of this policy, I am certainly in no position to fight the system.

Now this seems to be a receipt for disaster, the one saving grace being that it is paired with a policy that limits the number of A grades available to a given class. So students can be expected to turn in cheaters, because someone cheating their way to an A diminishes the chance that Keener Karen can get an A. The students usually don't understand the grade policy very well, but in this case their perception that it is completely inflexible supposedly helps honor code enforcement.

At some point in my education I did attend (a different) institution that had a "hand write the honor code" requirement on major assignments. I am aware that there is supposedly research that says it prevents some small acts of dishonesty, but that an honor code does nothing to stop a student intent on cheating?

Q: Assuming that we all know that the students lie and cheat, no matter what, does any one have an experience with these codes? Does any student take them seriously? Is there any serious evidence behind this stuff or is it all wishful thinking?

Tunnels At Concordia Uni. Why Doesn't Everyone Think of This? From

While many Midwestern college students pile on layers to brave the frigid walk to classes in subzero weather, those attending one Wisconsin university on the windy shores of Lake Michigan can leave their coats in their dorms and take a much cozier trek.

Concordia University Wisconsin has nearly 4 miles of connecting tunnels and hallways that keep students out of the harsh winter elements. The elaborate underground system connects residence halls and academic buildings.

“Actually, it’s pretty funny to see students walking around campus in flip flops and shorts,” during the winter, said university spokesman Craig McCarthy.

Some of the tunnels date back to when the School Sisters of Notre Dame owned the 200-acre lakefront property before Concordia bought it in 1982, according to McCarthy. The Lutheran university, north of Milwaukee in the suburb of Mequon, has added to the maze of tunnels when constructing new buildings, including the School of Pharmacy, which opened in 2011.

More misery.

Who Ya Got? Super Bowl Sunday's Free For All.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Beware of professors with agendas. From the Stephen F. Austin University Pine Log.


Academic freedom is the belief that there should be protection for educators to teach facts and ideas without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment. The theme of academic freedom and its related subjects helps to open minds of students. It’s not just objective facts that matter. Other people’s opinions on the subject are needed to develop a thought process to better understand the material. Perspective can be climacteric to the learning process.

Some professors, however, incentivize events in exchange for grades. An example is when a professor offers bonus points to attend an activity—one that’s important to the professor. Of course the student attends the activity, as a free 100 is hard to come by. It’s often overlooked when this sort of thing occurs because the student comes out with a free A, but there has actually been a violation of power. Nobody is harmed and morals are usually not conflicted, but the professor has pushed an agenda by holding grades over his or her student’s heads. It’s the same concept of being bought out. It’s unethical, and yet we do not pay attention to it.

The Rest of the Misery.

What time is the Super Bowl?

Is it too early to start drinking for it now?