1) A yoga competition? Yoga. Competing. That seems so counterintuitive.
That was the amusing one. These are infuriating:2) A fertilized egg has human rights? Really? So does that mean that the woman carrying said egg can be convicted of manslaughter if she miscarries? Does that mean that the fetus can be guilty of attempted murder or even murder if the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman? Am I exaggerating if I say that the fertilized egg -- that is two cells -- has greater rights than the woman on which it relies for continued division and survival? A fertilized cell has greater rights than prisoners at Guantanamo? Could this reasonably be expected to lead to Supreme Court decision? Smart commentary at Shakesville (plus, one of my new favorite words: "retrofuckery.")
3) I teach African American history for three hours on Wednesday nights. This week, I taught about the rise of Jim Crow, covering segregation, disfranchisement, anti-miscegenation, stereotypes, and the psychological effects of such things on African Americans. I leave feeling crappy under usual circumstances because, well, those lessons show just how vile white people (including some of my own ancestors) were.
This week, I not only left with that feeling, I then looked at the news and discovered this cartoon. I'd like to say, "at least the New York Post apologize," but their apology is in the grain of "I'm sorry you feel that way," which is not an apology at all. Some white people ARE vile, specifically this cartoonist and his defenders. That, and they are entirely visually illiterate. I would expect a certain amount of visual literacy from a person who makes their living in images.
These are "business as usual WTFery":
4) The faculty union met with the administration about the budget cuts and their effect on faculty salaries. As the administration proposed various forms and places to cut faculty and staff salaries, the union reps asked, "what salary cuts will the administration be taking?" The answer? "We'll get back to you on that." Did they not see that question coming? I think similar exchanges are taking place not only at other educational institutions, but in business and government, as well. Smaller cuts at the top might save more money than larger ones at the bottom, don't you think? (My mantra continues: I have a job. I have a job. I have a very good job.)
5) I was in a meeting for a fellowship, and we were discussing different negative reactions that students could have or have had to learning about social justice. I told the story about my irate student who objected to learning about gay rights in a course about Civil Rights. In the course of my telling, I said, "most of the objectors were male." Before I could finish my point that some people who are pro-social justice in some areas are very anti-social justice in others, one of the two white males in the room reacted very visibly. He behaved as if I had called him, specifically, "homophobic."
Now, the white male in question was sitting in front of me, so everyone was looking past him to me (he, incidentally, was not looking at me), which meant that he had an audience for his reaction. This suggests that his reaction was not sincere, but just an effort to get attention. (Note: I've seen this particular white man in action before, and this is typical of his behavior. A female tries to make a complicated point, but he jumps in and talks over her to pick apart an argument that she hasn't yet made if he doesn't just ignore altogether what she has said.)
In any case, before I could make that finer, more detailed point, I was taken to task by the facilitator for implying that all men are homophobic and was reminded that women can be homophobic, too. Well, heck, if they had just let me finish making my point, rather than focusing on this dude and his grab for attention, I would have said the same damn thing. I felt like I was being asked to coddle the poor oppressed white man, again, because he was not the center of attention for every second.
Then, everyone in the room looked to me in expectation of an apology. I confess that I did not apologize, but said, "I'm aware of that. What I was saying was...;" and finished my point.And in the category of "Duh! of the Week" we have:
1) "Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes." The really interesting passage is this:
"James Hogge, associate dean of the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University, said: “Students often confuse the level of effort with the quality of work. There is a mentality in students that ‘if I work hard, I deserve a high grade.’ In line with Dean Hogge’s observation are Professor Greenberger’s test results. Nearly two-thirds of the students surveyed said that if they explained to a professor that they were trying hard, that should be taken into account in their grade."
Actually, in that same fellowship meeting, we saw a little film that resulted from a self-survey of several hundred students about the conditions of their education. I'm not sure why they show these films to teachers. Most of us know that students have crushing debt when they graduate, most of us know that they surf the internet on their computers, most of us know that they pay for class and don't attend or buy the text and never read it. Most of us also try to overcome these obstacles when we can, but many of these problems are out of our hands. We can use various sticks and carrots to get students to read or attend or pay attention. We try to keep the expenses of the class down; but we can't MAKE students do anything. We also have no control of the cost of college or over their personal lives or over the class size (although I've heard some funny stories about that!).
When they show us these films, I feel stressed and pressured and angry because I feel that the administration shows these films to us as if we aren't fully aware of these problems, as if our teaching is faulty and the cause of these problems because, really, what would be the point of showing them to us otherwise? The people who need to see these things are general public, the politicians, the decision makers -- and those people should be told that the teachers are not the ones at fault. The system is.
2) "Studies have found that graduate school is not a particularly healthy place."