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Terms of Disengagement

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Apr. 13th, 2011 | 05:44 am

One of my grad students told me the other day that her father, who is an English professor in another state, assigned an Arthur Miller play to his class to read. When he asked the class who had read the play and no one responded, he walked out of the classroom. He is, of course, a full professor.

Early this morning, as I struggled with insomnia, I thought about the students who text and browse the internet during my "upper-division" undergraduate class. I've called them out on it several times. I've tried turning it into a classroom joke. I've stopped speaking while I wait for them to stop texting. Nothing changes the behavior. The only thing I can think of that would be more effective would be to expel them from class or to take the devices away from them and smash them on the floor. Given the fact that I've just been bitched at for telling off an attitudinal assistant librarian (who happens to make over $10K a year more than I do), I think it's safe to say that my efforts to "impose" higher standards of behavior on people in my university is typically interpreted as some kind of personal threat that needs to be neutralized.

Therefore, risk nothing, say nothing, do nothing: just hate, hate, hate.

Let me just say it: this was my backup school when I was applying to colleges, and I didn't need to resort to it. Thank God. It IS inferior to me and always has been. I see now that it's not for want of trying on the part of some faculty members, but some environments just conspire to remain at a certain level of mediocrity and viciously refuse to give it up. Fine: let them be damned in their mediocrity.

Unfortunately, I didn't know how to make all the right moves in order to teach at a better institution. I probably should have stayed in Georgia. At least I had a colleague there that I share some interests with, and I probably would have more creative freedom and less frustration. That school was so hopeless that the temptation to try for something better there was simply ridiculous. There is a kind of healthy realism in that.

OK, I'll get back to grading my fucking papers now.



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