I will be back to the victimizations tomorrow, but today I’d like to continue on the same topic I was on yesterday. A question I am often asked is what a former college instructor can do outside of a university setting. The other question is what on earth I would want to do outside of a university setting. The first question has an easy answer: a former college instructor (who was good at his job) has demonstrated excellence in writing, research, teaching (management), oral presentation, oral sex, and whatever skills and knowledge come with the subject the instructor taught. In theory, someone with these capabilities should be snapped up almost immediately by employers. However, as I indicated in my last post, it does not turn out that way because so many people have negative views of people with a Ph.D. Or maybe the lowly resume readers in HR were never forced to read a word with more than one syllable in it while they were in college. Same difference.
And that brings me to the second question: what I would want to do. A lot of businesses assume that a Ph.D. means that I don’t want to be working for them, that a Ph.D. would only be happy in the university. As you know about me by now, that’s not true. I’ve been amazed at how much there is outside of the university and I’ve seen quite a few things (that are legal in at least 25 states) that would make me very happy. I don’t much feel like going through a complete list, so I’ll offer up a take on my dream job… if it exists anywhere. And to get things started, I have a pretty little picture for you:
Okay, so it’s a cheap PowerPoint slide, but this picture symbolizes the kind of job I would like to have. To protect their jobs, educators spend a lot of time inflating students’ self-esteem and the kids often become arrogant and a little lazy. And then businesses hire them and have to figure out a way to make them productive. These kids need pretty little pictures if they are to pay attention to reading material and, like with the picture, they have a hard time deciphering anything that hints at their lack of unique awesomeness. It is my hope that a business will hire me as an educational deprogrammer who will
put these kids in their place explain to these kids what was done to them when they were students. Because I’ve worked in college teaching, I understand the psychological complexes that the universities are sowing in their students and I can speak with authority when I tell the kids that it’s not their fault that they need to change. (And let’s be honest: “it’s not your fault” is the only message the kids will listen to. Fortunately, it’s the truth.)
I’ve never heard of a job like this… but if your business needs help straightening out its recent hires, I would be happy to victimize them. And I even promise to be nice about it! I’ll be my usual happy-go-lucky self.
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.
Imagine for a moment that you are a kindergarten teacher. Today you are going to begin an educational assistance program for your students and they’re going to love it. (As we all know, “they’re going to love it” is the best way to judge the effectiveness of pedagogical techniques.) It’s even easier than all the hard stuff associated with memorizing and learning.
Here is the plan: you are going to shoot each student up three times with heroin. Although you know that this won’t help them developmentally, your professors told you that heroin is the best way to motivate student learning. As long as the kids’ teachers continue to give them heroin through the years, students will learn anything you give them. If you stop injecting the heroin, they won’t learn anything.
Let’s have an honest show of hands: how many of you wish school had really been like this? Sounds fun, doesn’t it? (Legal Disclaimer: don’t try this at home.)
Unfortunately, we all know that heroin does not assist learning even though withdrawal from any drug (including alcohol) can cause a person to lose knowledge or skills gained while under the influence. The same goes for the incessant boosting of the students’ self-esteem and curricular dumbing-down. It starts early, so teachers of older kids run the risk of losing their students’ cooperation if they don’t coddle them. These teachers are informed that the student audience has changed; this is coupled with demands that teachers change their methods to “adapt” to the new student shortcomings. I don’t mean to imply that everything was perfect in Education Land 75 years ago, but these demands miss the mark. To see why, let’s go back to Kindergarten:
You just gave your kindergartener a shot of vodka today and he’s a little dizzy. What’s the solution? Correct! You give him another shot of vodka.
Now he’s throwing up, but he likes the taste and wants more vodka. What do you do? You guessed it! Two more shots!
And the little boy passes out in a puddle of his own vomit. When he wakes up in the morning, you tell him that you’re proud of him because he handled the vodka very well. He asks for more, so of course you’re supposed to give it to him. You might as well hand him the whole bottle because he’s just so talented.
An hour later, his liver has decided that this isn’t funny and it’s no longer functioning. Junior is now a dazzling shade of yellow. (It makes him look so handsome!) Unfortunately, you’re out of vodka so you decide to go see a doctor to ask about Junior’s lack of hand-eye coordination. But you’re not looking for real medical help because you already know the right answer: a prescription for vodka!
And so it goes with inflating students’ grades and self-esteem while ignoring their reduced skills and ever-shortening attention spans. The solution parents demand, the one colleges demand of professors, and the one students expect is MORE VODKA! Um… I mean more dumbing down and more fueling of students’ self-esteem.
I think we can all see how that turns out. In the end, the self-esteem addicts face the same results as the heroin addicts and alcoholics: their brains are fried.
I’ve been here a couple of weeks now and have been surprised by the response this blog has received so far. However, I’ve been even more surprised by how many people have clicked on my “About Me” page. It has been a lot of people…
And so I have decided to put out something fuller than the non-statement I had on the blog and I hope it will correct some of the misconceptions I’ve run into during my short time here.
The first thing you need to know about me is that I am under 45. (Therefore: not retired.) I left teaching mostly because I could not stand inflicting the things I describe on my students. Let there be no mistake about it: I write about things that are often required of college teachers if they want to keep their jobs. If you are put off by my regular mocking of students, please remember that I view students’ negative qualities as a direct result of the educational system they have been put through. I don’t hate them and I don’t blame them, but I worry that they will grow up to do the same things to their children as was done to them. I feel bad for them and I have come to see the consequences of what is happening to them.
The other detail you didn’t know about me is that I have been looking for a job for a few months now. The lack of skills among college graduates has appalled me; I wish I could post some of the grammatical atrocities I’ve seen in form letters and official correspondence from businesses. I’ve also had the opportunity to see that businesses recognize how little many college students are learning in school. And don’t get me started on the anti-intellectualism and stereotypes that make it nearly impossible for someone with a Ph.D. to find a job. Eventually, I’ll start posting thoughts on the challenges of looking for a job with a Ph.D. if unemployment lasts much longer.
But I am still thankful not to be teaching. I enjoyed teaching when the goal was to impart knowledge, but those days are long past. Although you could get a basic idea of academe’s problems from visiting the Chronicle of Higher Education, I blog here to reach people who would not know to look for this kind of information. As long as it does not last forever, unemployment is a small price to pay for what I was able to escape. Believe it or not, it’s less stressful.
In closing, please know that I intend to remain anonymous because I don’t want my former educational institution to be singled out unfairly. (Caveat: If you want to offer me a job, we may be able to work something out.) I’m not writing about one institution’s problems; I write about what happens at many institutions. And: I remain anonymous to protect my former students. I don’t publish anything about any individual student I taught, but quite a few of my former students could look at my blog and think I’m writing specifically about them. In turn, businesses could look at my blog and say that they won’t hire grads from Dr. Tafisk’s university.
And please tell me that you didn’t really think my name is Lou Tafisk (lutefisk). Something should have smelled fishy.
This post is being copied to my “About Me” page as the official replacement.
This post was inspired by a response I received to my last one. For those of you who don’t want to read it, here’s a quick summary:
I wrote a “love letter” to one of my bratty former students. She hated me then but probably loves me or my teaching now. She also thought I was attracted to her back in the day. She’s hot and would be fun to sleep with in a decade or two, but she’s obnoxious and immature now.
The response I received made me imagine that she could have been reading the piece. (And she could be you, my dear reader. She could be all of you for all I know.) And so I’m going to administer a little pop quiz, in part because I’m curious and in part because I really miss torturing students with pop quizzes.
When I implied that you don’t have the brains to back up your bragging, did you think I was talking about you? Did you recognize yourself in my description of someone who desperately needs to grow up?
You always thought I loved you. When I made jokes about wanting to receive nude photos of you and eventually sleep with you, did you view that as confirmation of your beliefs from all those years ago?
Question 1: If you recognized yourself in the criticisms I made, you are not my former student. The ability to recognize your shortcomings is something that our educational system does not encourage you to do; therefore, it is not a quality to be found in the typical immature person. You are special and unique because you know that you are not special and unique.
Question 2: Although a “yes” response may reveal your inability to recognize a joke, it’s more likely that you’re not psychologically capable of realizing how silly your earlier imaginings were. I wouldn’t complain if you sent me those nude photos anyway, but you’re deluded if you think any former teacher could focus that way on a student for so many years. And even if I could, why on earth would it be you? The fact that you think I want you is more likely a symptom of your desire for me. You were always hot for teacher and you just can’t let go. You went into a lot of debt for that degree and you think you deserve everything your teachers have to offer. You are an entitled little brat, but you are probably cute. (BTW: Don’t get your hopes up. Kittens are cute too.)