Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Some People are Made to Teach...

. . . I am absolutely not one of them.

As a matter of fact, I hate it. I've been told that we do it for the rewarding moments, for the few students who care, for the ah-ha moments we've provoked in students eager to learn. But you know, I've found that the rewarding moments, few-and-far-between I might add, are far outweighed by the hair-pulling moments. And to make matters worse, I don't just hate teaching, I hate traditional students. I can't really speak to non-traditional students because I haven't had any, but speaking as one of them, I think non-traditional students tend to work harder than traditional students. Why? Because they don't have parents breathing down their necks, telling them they have to go. They don't have anyone but themselves, and anything but the understanding that without college life is harder, to drive them forward.

But why hate traditional students? Why hate teaching?

I've found traditional students to be, by far, the most entitled creatures on the planet.  They grew up in a society that rewarded mediocrity, that told them they were perfect and wonderful when they did poorly, when they got trophies for childhood sports they lost, academic recognition by way of awards even when they didn't excel, and ribbons for failure with a hearty "at least you tried, better luck next time."  Now, with all that entitlement to tell them they deserve to do well even without trying, academic consumerism has lead them to believe that paying for college entitles them to make a passing grade. They believe they paid for their A, so they should get it (when in fact the government, the university, or their mommies and daddies actually paid). They believe that just doing the work, without regard for whether or not it's done correctly, should earn them a good grade. They believe their grades should be curved, that the lowest grades should be dropped, and that they should be able to skip class, or classwork, and still do fine.

Well, I'm sorry but in my book failure is rewarded with a big fat F. How far is it to students who do well when those who don't still make passing grades? It's not. It never has been. It never will be.  No student will make a passing grade because they paid for it. Only doing well will yield you the desired results, a passing grade. Today, I had to dismiss 75% of my class because they didn't show up with their rough drafts on peer review day. It's clearly listed on their assignment sheet, which they don't bother to read anyway, that today is peer review day. Now, I've got 15 really pissed off students, just in my first class, and you know I actually bothered to feel bad about that. Why should I feel bad because they had to be penalized for not doing their work? Obviously, I shouldn't, but I am which is unfair to me. I give 100% and receive substantially less than that in return. I hold up my end of the bargain, but you know, lately, I find that I don't feel compelled to do so. I find that I don't feel like I should have to pour my time, and heart, into slides and assignments they, frankly, don't give a shit about.

My classes will go another month and a week, until May 3rd, and then I'm done with this job. I'm done with teaching, with dealing with entitled little shits who think they deserve to do nothing and still pass. I'm going to look for another job, a desk job, when I can do my work and be left alone. Where I don't have students giving me every excuse in the book, arguing their grades, and getting pissed at me when they don't do their work. I've done my due diligence, I've worked my ass off for these students, and gotten nothing in return. Maybe some people can do this job and take pride in it, but I'm not one of those people.

And, while I'm on the topic, I'd just like to say that in addition to students being entitled assholes, the university isn't much better. The institution tells them it's okay to engage in academic consumerism by lowering their standards and allowing every crappy student entrance tot he university. There are no standards at a university that very nearly engages in open enrollment. There are no standards at a university that takes students who can't make it, gives them sports scholarships, and inflates their dreams of someday making it in professional sports while they can't even pass remedial writing classes. There's a problem with a university who tells students they'll get excused absences for "university functions" like sporting events, without regard to what's going on in class. A student who misses class still misses the material, so how is it fair to allow them to be excused when all the other students aren't? Obviously, again, it's not but the university is just as much a part of the academic consumer environment as the students who pay for their A's.

Ultimately, I've decided that the stress isn't worth it. That the students aren't worth it. That the institution that makes this behavior acceptable isn't worth it. I can't stand teaching and I'll be glad when it's over, because you know, without students this job might actually be bearable. With them, I have to pep talk myself out of bed every day, something I simply cannot abide for ever, and definitely not in an increasingly cut-throat industry where people are standing in line to do a "cushy" academic job, and those of us who actually care are left working adjunct jobs for $750 a class per semester. No thank you.