Thursday, June 18, 2009

Taking Yourself Too Seriously: When Bitterness Expresses Itself Freely

This week and next I am trapped in a writing institute "for the students." I got wrangled into it under false pretenses. I thought I was going to learn some great strategies for teaching writing and simultaneously provide some hand-picked students with a fun and stellar summer writing program. All I've really learned thus far:

1. There is a vast difference between theory and practice.

2. Don't ever work with the local big fat university's education department because it is like offering your students as guinea pigs to the research gods.

3. And, this is the most important lesson here, I've learned that it is sickly satisfying to watch college of education academians learning the critical truth about working with (gasp!) actual high school students.

Because the truth is that professors don't know about much beyond the false land of academia. I could go on about how most of the students I teach never make it into their second (or first) semester of college. How, subsequently, these poor professors don't know the truth about that other piece of the pie chart. You know, the group that doesn't make it to college (which somehow translates into my failure as an educator). I could go on about how most actual college professors only teach equally cocky graduate students about their personal, passionate specialty and research within the same narrow specialty and, as a result, can't function beyond their particular specialty. I could give them the benefit of the doubt here. But I'm feeling quite sassy. So I'll say this: never have I enjoyed anything more than watching smug, insulting, arrogant professors flounder painfully and awkwardly as they demonstrate what they believe I should be doing in my classroom.

Yes, if you didn't know this, the beauty in education professors is that (and I'm quite certain this is true in most of academia) they actually believe they know how to do my job better than I do. Why? Well, because they've researched in controlled environments and read articles on the topic, of course. Apparently teaching in the chaos of an actual school and prepping and assessing and discussing students for ten hours a day doesn't qualify me as an expert on the topic. But, never fear, the decision and policy makers churned out of college of education departments nationally are experts.

This post is entirely unprofessional of me, I know. But seriously--you cute little professors (bless your hearts!) need to realize that your quest for tenure means not a thing in my classroom. We're not a team in this. Teams fester in the trenches together. Real teaching (not that pretend research kind or the incessant talking that happens in a lecture hall--but REAL teaching) is damn hard.

It's like this: the emperor of education has clothes on, yes. But, my lands, if that get-up isn't ridiculous!

*What would Stacy and Clinton have to say?


Stephanie said...

I couldn't do what you do. Brava, I say, and smug profs be damned!

Jen said...

Love this, though I really enjoyed my education classes at the university (before I dropped out of that program, that is.)