The Voyage of Captain Obvious

Grading is satanic

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I hate teaching. I hate teaching a lot.

My past involves the humanities. I respect the study of literature and philsophy and art as much as the next person, probably more. But I think a broad, well-rounded mind is necessary for someone who is a college graduate. being a responsible citizen involves knowing about the world outside your own narrow specialty. At medium-sized lib arts school, where I did my undergrad, I thought this perspective was shared by many, and commonly held amonst Americans.

Naive, I know. My life at big state school has certianly shown me that this is certianly not the case. Academics are not at all a priority (or even an interest) of the average undergraduate here, and when they are, if it's not something that has to do with a particular students' major, then their attitude is to say 'fuck it.' So, I get stucke with the underachieving students in a non-major class, and it is a disaster with 60-90% of them.

Normally, I wouldn't care, and would just flunk them in bunches. But, I have explicit instructions to not do this, because big research institution is interested in passing students along in their mediocrity, so that they can grow up to be middle managers that have an open hostility to science because of how much it sucked in college, because they were given a class, that by default, is devoid of content. I teach a class that could only generously be called a high-school level course, and I still get complaints about how haaard it is. Because these students have never been pushed. Because learning isn't a priority so much as pushing the students along so as to not enrage the alumni, harm the 5 year graduation rate, and generally make the school look bad. Which is why it' isn't really the students fault so much as the university that has trained them not to give a fuck.

wonderful life, no?


  • At 28 April, 2006 21:28, Blogger Professor Zero said…

    It is irritating as h***, isn't it?! My institution thinks the same way, but I've
    noticed that in fact, student interest increases when you make classes harder and more interesting--even at a not very elite state school like mine. I do not know why administrators make the opposite assumption.

    Actually, I do have an inkling. I think discovered that there are these bad teachers around who make the class hard as a way of asserting authority *only*.

    But at my institution some of us have actually generated statistics which show that, if you make a course that is
    required for gen. ed. a serious course,
    you get an increase in student numbers, not a decrease.


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