What a former college instructor really thinks…

Posts tagged “college

Bring Back Crucifixion

How many times have we heard students claim that they were “crucified” by their teachers for doing poor work?  As a certified old fogey (who is less than 45 years old), I would love to demand that students stop these unfair exaggerations.   The comparison to Jesus’ killers makes teachers look bad.  And since students often think they’re God, the metaphor is easily predicted.   So… rather than embark on the impossible quest of teaching students that they are average humans, I propose that we bolster their existing self-perception.  Besides improving students’ self-esteem (the primary goal of education), it will help us keep our jobs by making the customer happy.

In this spirit, I propose that the university pass a policy that will allow professors to perform crucifixions on students.  Besides the obvious psychological benefits to the crucified student, the community will make valuable gains as well.  Let’s be honest: how often does history come alive like this for students?  It would be a great educational demonstration that students would never forget.  And: since the university likes to promote permissive sexual attitudes, having a naked student bleeding profusely in public would help tremendously in achieving that aspect of social justice.

We must liberate society from oppressive moral standards!


Serious Thoughts on College Career Services

Since ceasing my employment with The University of X a few months ago, I have been looking for a new job.  I recently visited my undergraduate alma mater’s Career Services office (because they also help alumni) even though I was really worried about the idea.

The reason I was worried is probably not what you are thinking.  You may not realize this, but the “Career Service” office is often not a “service.”  For a moment, let’s forget that the college has a vested interest in having its potential donors be employed and making as much money as possible.  There are other vested interests that many of you may not be aware of.

I’ll start with the big one.  If you are enrolled in law, medicine, or another program that normally leads to careers in a specific field, the college needs you to choose that field for the institution’s sake.  If too many law students choose to do something other than law, it can make the school look bad when rankings time comes around.  (There are also a few industrious applicants who ask about this.)   Some programs find a way around this in their promotional materials by telling people that “90% of our graduates are employed within 3 months of graduation.”  What they fail to tell you is that half of those people are selling cosmetics door-to-door.  I have a feeling that these graduates didn’t take on so much debt to end up selling cosmetics.

But back to rankings: if you consider going for a Ph.D., you need to understand a few things up front.  Most importantly, a strong program will probably not accept you unless your application materials say “I want to become a professor.”  Doctoral programs recruit new students based on the professor jobs its graduates receive.  (And again be careful.  Some programs will say that 90% of their graduates secure academic appointments after completing the degree.  That number can include Visiting Assistant Professors who only stay at a college for a year or two.  It can also include a large number of people who teach for less than what a Wal-Mart cashier makes.  The key word to hunt for is “Tenure-Track.”)  But if you are nearing the end of your program and decide that you want to do something else, you can often expect that Career Services will encourage you to pursue the career that typically flows from the degree you are pursuing, even if it is painfully obvious that you should be doing something else.

Moral of the story: Remember that your college has financial and reputational concerns of its own and Career Services exists to serve those, not you.  This is why I love my undergraduate Career Services office so much.  It’s in their interest to help me because so many people with graduate degrees forget about their undergrad colleges.  In their eyes, I’m a donor in the making.  And the undergraduate college’s academic programs don’t benefit at all if I choose one career path over another.  Although it’s counterintuitive, and even though it really helped to also speak with a specialist who knows about the unique problems facing Ph.D.-holding job applicants, the undergrad institution’s office has been an excellent resource.

Things turn out better when Career Services’ goals match your goals.


The Arachnid Penis

Ever since I wrote my first post (in which I suggested “The Arachnid Penis” as a good blog title) I have been trying to come up with a way to inseminate that image into a future post.  It’s a relatively small (pun intended) and insignificant topic unless you happen to be a spider, so ideas weren’t pouring out of me.   So maybe if I take a closer look at spiders, I will come up with something to do with the penis.  (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

When we think of spiders, we usually think of their fangs and their legs.  So when you add penises in, these animals are the epitome pf phallic creatures- especially since their fangs like to jam their way into other creatures.  And so I must apologize for not having a picture to go with this post.  I understand that sexually suggestive photography is everyone’s favorite part of biology but I am not here to pander.   I am here to teach you about a serious topic that deserves your respect and undivided attention.

And at this point I am starting to sound like the average professor.  How many professors like to argue that their research interests are significant, often with the assertion that all knowledge is important, but without being able to tell you exactly why your tuition dollars should help pay for their work.  In fairness, there’s a lot of arcane research out there (especially in the STEM fields) that looks ridiculous or unimportant that may eventually prove valuable; therefore, we need to be careful about what research we attack as useless.  However, the seventeenth book on hermaphrodites in Shakespeare’s tragedies seems like a waste of money.

As Shakespeare wrote, “I have drunk, and seen the spider.”   So, too, do many professors drink and discover research pursuits that are equally small.  I’ll grant that spiders are an important part of our ecosystem… but the way many professors think, “I saw the spider” means “I saw the spider naked.”  And that means we’re talking about the insignificant arachnid penis again.

I propose that arachnid penises have no place at the university, with the possible exception of Women’s Studies departments.  If you spend enough time around Women’s Studies professors, your anatomy will soon shrink to the size of an arachnid penis.  And that helps the feminists feel good about themselves.


Shake Your Booty and Don’t Give Pop Quizzes

When I was in 2nd grade, my teacher was new and she obviously hadn’t spent much time around young children.  One day she was feeling especially out of her comfort zone and thought she needed to find a way to entertain the class.  So… she walked to the front of the room and said, “kids, I am now going to spin around for you.”  I don’t know why she thought this would be entertaining, but approximately half the class was clamoring for “more!  more!”  And the teacher kept spinning until one of the female students called out “they just want to see your underwear.”  The teacher promptly stopped.

Teaching second graders is a completely different game from teaching college students.  Sort of.  In college, students (or their parents) are paying tuition and believe that they deserve to get whatever they want.  The other big difference is that college students are above the legal age of consent, so it’s no longer entirely illegal if you give them the lingerie shots they clamor for.  Of course, college kids won’t be satisfied with just seeing your underwear; they get that all the time in the dorms.  Today’s students need to see you strut your stuff so they know you’re their equal.   (This must be why ratemyprofessors includes a chili pepper for students to identify their “hot” teachers.)

Always remember that egalitarianism must come first when it comes to teaching.  Shaking your booty shows them that you’re as dumb and horny as they are; the best teachers are always the ones that students can relate to.  And forget about all those pop quizzes; testing students’ knowledge implies that you know more than they do, and that’s an absolute no-no.   You are fellow explorers on a quest for knowledge and the most valuable knowledge you can discover together is disco butt exercises.


Proposed Religion Course: Satan Worship for Fun and Profit

I already know what you thought when you read the headline for this post: Satan worship is not a religion and has no business being in a college curriculum.  Of course, you’re wrong again.

The problem is that you have completely misunderstood what the college curriculum is all about.  Here at the University of Professors’ Arcane Interests, anything goes!  Our professors have redefined the term “religion” to encompass all sorts of practices that have traditionally been excluded from that designation.  Allowing Satan worship into the fold is only fair; who are we to judge what counts as a religion and what doesn’t?  It even fits perfectly with  what other departments are doing; the English department considers Harry Potter to be just as literary as Shakespeare and the music department rakes in the dough by filling auditoriums with its “Rock for Jocks” course.  If nothing else, learning about Satan worship will give students valuable insights on what they are learning in their other classes.

But that’s not the only benefit!  A Satan worship course could be fun for students.  Carving pentagrams into their wrists could be the most exciting lab experience they’ve ever had.  How can we not take this opportunity to get students engaged with science?  And think of all the educational movies they could watch during class.  This would free the professor from having to create lesson plans, allowing more time to publish research that no one will ever read.  And because students will end the course with a thorough knowledge of Satan worship, they will be well equipped to use that knowledge to make money in the entertainment industry.  So even though you might have moral qualms about students learning about Satan worship, never forget that there are useful practical applications for all knowledge.  There is no such thing as useless knowledge. 

Caveat: if your child plans to join the clergy, this is not an appropriate course selection.  We are here to proclaim the equality of all religions and the clergy aren’t into that kind of thing.  We will not be teaching our students that human sacrifice and bodily mutilation are bad.  Sorry.