Saturday, April 17, 2010

College Daze

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," better known as Deity Central Station! All aboard the westbound train -- making stops everywhere and anywhere! Just let the conductor know when you want to disembark. No schedule necessary.

Ah, if only life were like this, eh?

As part of getting my teaching certificate, I have had to attend occasional Saturday classes at a university here in South Jersey. I will not name the school in question, because my feeling is that most of these "alternate route" teaching gigs are about equal whether you're in New Jersey or Newfoundland.

It works like this: Young people pay upwards of $30,000 or more in tuition for four-year degrees in elementary or secondary education. You can't expect them to like it when mature, working people with life skills are stuck in classrooms without having to learn any of that expensive undergrad stuff. So we working people with life experiences have to cram all the "pedagogy" into a few Saturday sessions and some online "modules" so that college professors and college students won't feel insignificant.

This Saturday morning topic was multicultural education and developing tolerance for cultural and racial distinctions. So you can best believe that I was intently interested in this topic, considering that my entire student body is minority (except for three kids whose parents attended the school).

The professor overwhelmed us with handouts, slid through an incomprehensible two-hour lecture, fielded questions that yielded incomprehensible answers, and then had us take a true-false, multiple choice test he gives his graduate students ... just so we could see how little we knew.

He was right about knowing little. I never thought graduate students were given true/false and multiple choice tests. Did you? I thought graduate school was all about writing papers and doing research. How silly of me!

Turns out this professor knows as much about semantics as I know about multiculturalism, because some of his true-false questions contained the dreaded words "always" and "never," which are sure-fire pointers to FALSE, but his were TRUE! Oh well. There was no grade involved. You just had to sign in and sit there, more or less.

Which brings this sermon to its point. The whole class was about being tolerant of diversity. You got that point, right?

I was one of the last people to leave the room, simply because I'm super-responsible, and I also felt like I'd just been beaten about the head with a bunt object for three hours. So it was that I overheard the following conversation between The Professor and one of my classmates. The classmate in question was an elderly male (looked to me to be too old to have to work at all) with an extremely thick foreign accent.

Classmate: I am so sorry, sir, to be late to your class.

Professor: You were two hours late. I can't give you full credit.

Classmate: I know, I am so, so sorry! I live in Philadelphia. I no know how to get to the New Jersey. How to find the college. Then I no know which building. Then the classrooms no marked.

Professor: Well, that's too bad. It's not fair to the people who got here on time if I give you full credit. You'll have to make it up somehow.

Classmate: Oh, I will! I will! I will! Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!

Readers, I don't know about you, but after sitting through a class where we were told to make modifications for different ethnic and cultural groups, to respect their differences and try to teach them in the best way they would understand, I thought the Mighty Professor was contradicting himself. Here before him stood an elderly man with a foreign accent who had to cross a river into a different state and find a classroom on the most poorly-labeled campus in America. If the student in question doesn't deserve some slack for his accent, he should at least get it for his age!

Professor Hypocrite. As The Spare would say, what a TOOL.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a succinct anecdote to describe why (after being raised as a faculty brat) I left academia. If only common courtesy were as prevalent as erudite snobbery.