Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Part-Time Pete Either Needs a New Place ... Or Just a Little Patience.

Yes, we know that we have lots of characters on the blog named "Pete." It's one of our favorite monikers. It never fails to give us a chuckle. "Carl" gets used quite a bit, too. Just good names. "Nancy," of course, "Walter." These are names with real character. You just say "Walter," and you can see the guy, right? There's no conspiracy or anything. Seriously.

Anyway, a number of part-timers want to take Pete out to an alley and beat him senseless. They see his 32 years of teaching as meaningless, and suggest that he's "smug" and "arrogant" for wanting to use his own "probably over-priced" textbook in his class. We think Pete's okay, and here are a couple of posts that have come in that we wanted to share with you.

  • I'm a dean at a private liberal arts college in the Midwest, and Part-Time Pete would have no problems here. We often hire retired professors, people from industry, and other experts in non-traditional ways, leaving them free from some of the inanities that Pete points out. Of course, state institutions - like the community college Pete seems to have chosen - have got such incredible mandates to meet, that world renowned scholars would be brought to tears rather than go through the motions. It's a real shame, and that institution will likely miss out on his continued service - and much the worse will be that institution.

  • Part-Time Pete's training might not be entirely unnecessary. Community college is very different from a Big Ten university. As incredible as some of the things you're hearing from the little pipsqueak might seem, try to have an open mind about what he's telling you. We happen to have a guy from a Big Ten school in our department this year. We tried to prepare him for teaching science as a health careers requirement rather than its own discipline. We tried to prepare him for community college students. He smiled and nodded and said “yes, yes” a lot. He spent more than half of the semester teaching way over the students’ abilities. I'm not talking about just melting some snowflakes. He was cooking the good eggs. His idealism wasn't fair to the kids who went to community college instead of OSU because they weren't OSU material, but they wanted to keep learning. As a RYS reader, I'm sure you are aware of the snowflake epidemic. And I'm sure on a superficial level, you are aware that your new community college students are going to be different from your Big Ten students. But you might lose sight of that in the throes of the semester as my colleague did. Try not to confuse the average and honest community college kid with a pain in the ass lazy full of baloney snowflake. And try not to be like an academic snowflake and nod emphatically that you know, when you won't really know until you see them up close.