Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Two Readers Ask Wide-Ass To Hold Up And Reconsider.

That's it. Teach. The. Fucking. Class.

Let us be clear on this: your job is to (sing the song, sing the song), yes, but it does not actually absolve you from basic human responsibilities that under other circumstances are dubbed ethics, morals, empathy, etc. No one's asking you to act as anyone's therapist. In the earlier post about Amanda, however, he was advocating not saying "Hey, I think that kid's going off the deep end. Hm. Well, back to grading," when you could say "Hey, I think that kid's going off the deep end. Hm. Perhaps I'll give a call to Student Services and recommend they make an appointment with him before I get back to grading."

Do you seriously mean to push your bullshit about how people looking for trouble can't be helped? Really? "All the interventions in the world couldn't save him"? Perhaps snowproffie would have better luck understanding this idea if I put it in Humanities terms: one novel does not a library make. See, if I pull one novel off your ridiculously pretentious shelf that showcases the books you don't read (I know you've got Anne Rice on the shelf back at home), all I know is that book: a sample size of "one" does not make a representative idea of your reading tastes. Nor does your experience with one person in any way reflect on a policy for dealing with the masses - given that it is almost guaranteed that any policy that does good for the masses will fail for many specific individuals.

I must pause to highlight the irony of the humanities snowproffie, who will undoubtedly a week later claim his discipline is oh-so-important because it teaches students to be humane or some variant of that song, finds "we are a little responsible for the people we interact with every day" to be just too much of a human concern for his head.

Look, Prof Carebear, no one wants you running out there and playing Psychoanalyst to the Stars! But, yeah, if you think someone might be headed to a bad end, putting in just the slightest bit of effort to derail that is human decency. I was going to say "common decency," but every email like yours makes me question the "common" in that quote.


I see Wideass Wolverine's point: students often act irrationally, and attempts to help might be perceived as intrusive or even illegal or improper. And I don't agree that faculty are even a little responsible for students welfare. But by his logic, if I see someone get run over by a bus, I ought to just keep walking because I'm not a trained EMT, I can't diagnose severe injury, and it's not my 'job' to help other people. Besides, if I do the wrong thing because of my lack of training, I might be sued. I'm a computer programmer and can't be expected to do anything outside my field of expertise.

So lost tourists can forget about asking me for directions; if someone slips and falls, I'm certainly not going to help them up, and no way am I helping a blind person cross the street, or a mother carry her stroller up a flight of stairs.
Of course I'm being facetious; I frequently help complete strangers, to whom I have no obligation, who need assistance that is well beyond my field of expertise. There's no obligation to do so; no law that says I must be compassionate. If you can't tell the difference between someone who's already plummeted off the deep end and typical student high-jinks or even just a need for therapy, then perhaps it's best to just ignore the whole situation. But sometimes the difference is obvious to everyone.

There's no reason not to place a two-minute call to the counseling center, except compassion. Whether or not that's a compelling enough reason is a personal choice. I recall finding a lost little girl in a supermarket who had already asked several adults for assistance, all of whom ignored her. I suppose Wolverine would be in that category. Based on his attitude towards students, I wouldn't expect him to assist a complete stranger.