Friday, November 21, 2008

"The Regulars!" Weepy Wayne Does His Best to Update Some Fogies on the Modern Classroom And Its Hordes of "Cell Phone Accessorized Mannequins."

Leave it to Weepy Wayne to take a crack at someone who actually LIKES RYS. Wayne has been working his way through the November archives looking for dolts to skewer, and he's settled on Polite Phillip. So, if you please, enjoy the flava below:

My Liege,

"Alarmed" by the virtual spectacle of “professionals (who) treat their jobs or their students with quite so much distaste and condescension”?

I fear your smartly knotted ascot may be choking off blood to grandpa’s attic. If I may, permit me to go Socratic on the gilded soap bubble you call home. Instead of getting higher and mightier than you apparently are, consider instead, “Why does this situation exist?” Even better, Glauc-on Glauc-off, ask yourself: “Am I somehow responsible?”

Straight up. When was the last time you set foot in a classroom? Not the PowerPoint Potemkin Village propped up by tenure-chasing toadies and your bowing and scraping grad students. I’m talking about that cramped cinderblock chamber of horrors across campus where I work. You know, the place where Chaucer goes to die.

You see, in the classroom, there’s no catered buffet. No glossy photo-ops. Only those revenue-enhancers the rest of us call students. Try not to suffer vertigo while standing proximate to the pitiless revolving door of failure that is College Writing I. Now grab a fistful of red pens and grade this sterile lump of essays masquerading as college writing. Feast your aching retinas on a mobius strip of platitudes, clich├ęs, and bromides, all served on a wrinkly bed of faded toner, garnished with drab Wiki entries and incongruous cut-n-pastes wrenched from, all riddled with wor7rds spelt like thiz, and served cold, at least a week after the due date.

Now, go back to the classroom. Wave your arms in desperation and attempt to warn a somnolent roomful of cell-phone accessorized mannequins that they’re walking headlong into a globalized, free-market meatgrinder. Insist that language holds value beyond the suffocating swells of advertising copy they are awash in and how technology is not a life preserver, but a cinderblock. Keep calm when they yawn and take a call, on their way out the door, in the middle of your class.

Safe behind administrative lines, these shrieking insults and flaming epithets hurled through still cyberspace might chatter your china and bother the flame of your candelabra. But those distant echoes you hear are the direct hits we’re taking on the front lines. We slink back to our office. Dash off a caustic post. Exhale. Then march back to the trenches because we love teaching and want to be there for those who make this worthwhile.

You don’t understand this because you probably haven’t taught since dot-matrix printing was all the rage. The classroom you remember no longer exists. Bureaucrats obliterated the quaint construct of town v. gown years ago. The barbarians are no longer at the gate. They’re snoring in the back row. You like Ike because he’s a sweet old relic. Together, you can wax nostalgic for the Taft Administration and the days when a long-lost University-funded dental plan sprang for that set of Dutch Elm choppers. But does Ike have anything for that special magic binder you might keep for an army of adjuncts racing in and out of the parking lot?

Who swung open the gates to this campus? Was it you? Who deals with the consequences?

But you’re right, “I suppose that's neither here nor there.”