adventures in pedagogy

Adventures in Pedagogy
Now That The Semester Is Over…

You will rarely see me criticize my students on my blog, mostly because I think that it’s more important to focus on the ways the systems that educate them produce them as a certain kind of student.

That said, I noted on Twitter a day or two ago that I consider the “class” as a unit of instruction to represent a kind of social contract.  A limited one, with fixed but fairly permeable parameters, and a 12-16 week term limit.

The “syllabus,” in that sense, represents the letter of the contract.  A good syllabus isn’t just a reading list, it’s a plan of action:  “Here’s what we’re going to be doing.  Are you in?"  A good syllabus lists both my commitment to you as your teacher (This is what I will be teaching you) and your commitment to me as a student (This is what you will need to do in order to learn). 

The commitment, as I understand it, is mutual.  What that means is that you don’t get to unilaterally define the terms of the contract.  You’re welcome to send me an e-mail to renegotiate: "These extenuating circumstances made it impossible for me to do X.  Is that OK?  Can I do Y instead?”  

Think of it this way:  Would it be OK with you if I arbitrarily decided which papers I was going to grade and which I wasn’t?  Likewise, if I had to cancel class one morning, you’d expect me to have a serious excuse, right?  Most importantly, what if I walked in and told you that I couldn’t prepare for class because I didn’t feel like it, but we were going to just shoot the shit, instead?  You might be relieved not to think hard, but you probably wouldn’t think I was a very good teacher.  By the same measure, trust me, buddy - I’d much rather sit here for 50 minutes, spout some opinions about a book I barely read, and collect a paycheck.  But I DON’T do that, because teaching properly is the commitment I’ve made both to you and to the institution that employs me.  Just like you, by sitting in my class and deciding not to drop it or transfer have committed to performing the assignments that have been laid out for you, whatever you might think about them.

This leads, finally, to a minor but crucial point - if an extenuating circumstance made it impossible for you to read the text or to prepare for class, sit quietly and make an effort to learn, rather than to talk.  I don’t think you should skip class if you haven’t prepared; many students make that assumption, and it’s a very counter-productive one - you won’t learn more by not reading the material and not hearing me explain it.  Come to class, definitely.  And I don’t even mind if you ask questions.  But if you waste my valuable class time offering opinion after opinion about a text you haven’t read, I will grow wroth.  

That’s all.

Metablogging / Adventures in Pedagogy
Police Yo'self

We do many things on this blog, but fron'in ain’t one.

Let me take a second to respond instead of just making fun of you for not stopping to actually think about the fucking thing before having a knee jerk response and actually sending it to me.  ‘cause clearly you thought for all of, what, 12 seconds about this phenomenon I just described, which I’ve been watching unfold for 24 hours? 

Anyway, no.  What you’re describing is a stock whiny COUNTER-response of people called out for dumb prejudiced shit.  And that COUNTER-response is generated by a stock whiny RESPONSE which literally begs the stock COUNTER-response.  That’s exactly the affective algorithm my last two posts have been performing, and many of my followers, including you, have wonderfully played your part.  Congratulations for responding to a critique of a stereotype with that very stereotype. 

The essence of the reason your “question” is bullshit is lodged in your very question, and it’s an error I’ve only carefully critiqued a few dozen times in recent months.  Namely, there’s no such fucking thing as “divorced from whatever context."  That’s exactly the point of my post.  Hughley’s set is clever and very, very self-reflexive about its homophobia, or potential homophobia, which kneejerk responders might actually find out if they watched the fucking thing before sending me a fucking message about it.  So no, the problem isn’t "the stock whiny response of people called out for dumb prejudiced shit,” the problem is that “forward-thinking” “liberals” are too fucking dumb to understand that having a smart, witty man like Hughley critique his own homophobia is not the same as being called a faggot by some homeless black guy with no teeth outside Penn Station.  Capisce?