Friday, May 14, 2010

Stella from Sparksburg Offers a Colleague the Magic of Silence Pedagogy.

Dear Professor Tightass:

It has come to my attention that you actually take offense at the crap your students give you. Yes, they’re clueless, lying little shits. But it’s nothing personal. So don’t get all wound up, Professor Tightass. Just don’t put up with their crap, don’t get sucked into their sturm and drang, and (this is the most important part) fail every one of them that needs to be failed.

If you don't answer,
they'll still be there.
So, when some student addresses you in an email as “Yo” instead of “Professor Tightass,” or (GASP!) calls you by your first name, and then asks when the final is even though you’ve announced it ten fucking times and it’s on the syllabus in bold red type, don’t throw a hissy fit and get all Strunk and White on their ass. It makes you look like a pompous jerk. (You ARE a pompous jerk, but it’s best if you don’t let your students find that out.) You showed me that email you sent your “offensive, rude” student, an email in which you cited the “proper” way to address one’s professor, and berated the student for not coming to class.

This only makes me think that in addition to being a pompous jerk, you are a clueless fucking moron. Your email isn’t going to make the student sorry. Because they had shit to do. They had some cute girl they met at the Starbucks to bang, and then they had to write bad poetry about it and post it to their blog. Or they had to make profligate use of their fake ID. Your tirade is not going to improve their attitude. It’s just going to make them think you’re an asshole that never gets laid. (You ARE an asshole that never gets laid, but it’s best if you don’t let your students find that out.)

The first rule of teaching, or at least of teaching in the humanities at a small college, is that most of your students don’t want to come to your class, and they certainly don’t want to do any assigned work. If you haven’t assimilated this by now, you’re one numbskulled fucker. This does not have anything to do with you, save for the fact that you’re getting all pissy about it. Your colleagues are no luckier. You are not a member of a special tribe of professors whose students are actually eager to visit their class. You’re not Mr. Chips or Mr. Holland or that Robin Williams imbecile in Dead Poets Society.

You teach core courses and even the ones you teach in the major are required for the dunderhead education majors. No one would be there if they actually had to. Sure, they might smile and seem happy to be there sometimes. But remember this: if they knew they could secretly get an A and never come to class and never do any work, you would never see any of them. Face that fact and make them work anyway. But never, never never take offense when they don’t care. That way lies madness.

But I do feel your pain, Professor Tightass. So what does one do when a student sends an improperly addressed email asking when the final is? I mean, if one doesn’t want to puke forth a self-important, useless, finger-wagging diatribe, that is. What does one do?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, that’s what one does. One laughs a little secret laugh, and then surfs the internet for Kate Gosselin or Iron Man 2 or celebrity nipples or whatever it is that floats one’s boat.

Silence—the 21st century student cannot abide it. They will eat their own livers if you don’t immediately tell them what they want to know. Ignore the second email, and the third. The day before the final, write them only this: “The date of the final is listed on your syllabus.” Or not. It’s not your problem if Funky Winkerbean is too dumb to read the fucking syllabus.

And cop a clue, Professor Tightass. It ain’t about you.