Litkicks Message Board Archive

Carrying the Mail

Posted to Poetry and Politics

I enjoyed the websites very much. I will need to revisit Paul Celan later; he sounds intriguing.

As for Steiner, I thought what he had to say about the present and future of teaching was very interesting, and almost completely true. Money is the god and goal of the average college student. That part is very true. And the fears he mentioned -- the open doors in offices, the threat of blackmail -- are ugly realities that even my ex-husband had to do battle with.

I don't know if I agree with his characterization of female college students on the warpath as angry Bacchics (or whatever were the words he used). That is pretty flattering stuff. It would be easy if the fury was only directed against male teachers, but it's not.

At the end of my first quarter here I unwittingly stumbled into a discussion with a young student who yelled invectives against a female teacher because she'd gotten a D in her Vet Science class. I almost asked, "But how can you get a D in Vet Science??" I caught myself in time :-) and listened to what she had to say. The poor teacher had asked students to write a paper on Animal Behavior because she believes that good written and oral communication is important to becoming a good Vet Tech. This student did not know the first thing about constructing a paragraph or an essay. The angry female student not only cursed her instructor in the middle of the commons, she also set up a grievance against the teacher and tried to rake her over the coals. She didn't succeed, but I have the same teacher now, and we are not doing the Animal Behavior paper in her class, as a result of this ugly experience.

Situations like this have nothing to do with equality for women and everything to do with feelings of entitlement. The student thinks she ought to be treated differently. Exceptions ought to be made for her because of her tragic personal circumstances. I had hoped she'd dropped out of school this quarter, but no. She turned up again in my microbiology lab. Only, predictably, she'd already missed a few classes, so she didn't know that an assignment was due. No doubt, if Janet K sticks to the rules for her classes, she will also be dragged into the Dean's office.

What a pain in the butt. You can't even claim that you know what you know; you can't even grade your papers fairly applying the knowledge you've been hired to use, without running into these angry she-and-he hyenas (only, they are mostly shes -- men usually have a basic sense of fairness) at every step of the way!

Dr. R was asked what he'd like to be called in my A & P Lab. "Dr. R", he said, and then he launched into a small apology about the conservative, traditional orientation of the Dean. "HOW many years did you go to school to get that title? I think you have earned the right to be called 'doctor'." I said. This man has got a D.V.M. AND a Ph.D. and he thinks he's got to excuse himself for asking to be called Dr. R! It's pretty pathetic.

Sorry, I don't mean to whine on and on about this stuff, but I completely understand that the current socio-political climate in our schools is affecting teacher-student relationships negatively. Forget about "respect", the very idea that you know what you know is subject to daily onslaughts. Students think that they are better than their teachers, who are, after all, ONLY teachers. You don't earn very much money, so how could you be better than them? Teachers have become a kind of upstairs-servant in today's world.

Anyways, I'd like to read more of what Steiner has to say about this, and thanks for the websites. Don't beat yourself up too much for leaving teaching; you were a good teacher, and you shouldn't have to subject yourself to this kind of torture :-)