Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"The Regulars." Mildred from Medicine Hat Bitches about Everything.

Bitching about Administration:
Today my chair tells me that the calendar committee has rejected my rewrite of a course description for the calendar because it "included questions." Well, yes. I thought "Why are we here?" would grab a little more student interest than "The student will examine various philosophical perspectives on the nature of being." And use fewer words, too. But no, apparently question marks won't do.

Oh, and the other problem with my course description? Complete sentences. I can't have those either. In the interests of saving space I have to butcher my grammar. They suggested, in place of my 3 short, pithy and eloquent complete sentences (one with a question mark) , a 4 line sentence fragment which not only makes no bloody sense, it actually takes up more space than what I submitted. But they refuse to back down.

Quite aside from every other question this raises (We're a UNIVERSITY. If we don't use complete sentences, who will?), I can't believe how much time they're wasting on this. Every member of that committee is an academic just like me. Have they no papers to grade? Lectures to write? Homes to go to?

Bitching about Teaching:
I teach a class of 100 students. Their single major assignment, worth 40% of their grade, was due on Friday. They've had 6 weeks to work on it. It's tricky and I have spent 2 whole classes going over how to approach it, and complete instructions are up on the web for them.

Some of them will hand it in late. Some of them will not get how it's done or what I expected or how it will be graded, even though they have tried, even though I've gone over all of that exhaustively and put all that information up on the web too. I can deal with that.

What I find hard to deal with, and it comes up every year, and astonishes me every single time, is the number of students who come up to me ON FRIDAY to say "Is there an assignment due today? Uh, can I come talk to you about how to do it?"

Why, no, I don't have office hours today and I do have other things scheduled, I am sorry. Have you read the instructions on the class website? Why, yes, there are instructions up there; the ones I spent a good six hours putting together. The ones I showed you in class and went over twice. You might want to take a look.

And then of course there's the final pass, the whole point in fact, delivered in a shamefaced rush as I get my hand on my office door, preparing to whisk inside and lock it: "canIhaveanextensionIhad4otherpapersduethisweek?"

They never seem to have an answer to my response: "Tell me, why is my paper less important than the other four? Why am I the one you're asking for an extension?"

Besides the fact that I look like a sweet, plump, middle-aged motherly type who might give you one, I mean. Guess again, kid. I mean, true, I am a sweet plump middle-aged mother, but I didn't give birth to YOU.

Bitching about Research:
Sorry. I vaguely remember I was working on something, once. I can't remember which of about 4 stalled projects I'm supposed to be feeling particularly guilty about just at the moment. Maybe it will come to me after the end of term.