I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me

From Vox:  http://www.vox.com/2015/6/3/8706323/college-professor-afraid

by Edward Schlosser
June 3, 2015

I’m a professor at a midsize state school. I have been teaching college classes for nine years now. I have won (minor) teaching awards, studied pedagogy extensively, and almost always score highly on my student evaluations. I am not a world-class teacher by any means, but I am conscientious; I attempt to put teaching ahead of research, and I take a healthy emotional stake in the well-being and growth of my students.

Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.

Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that’s simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher’s formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.

What it was like before

In early 2009, I was an adjunct, teaching a freshman-level writing course at a community college. Discussing infographics and data visualization, we watched a flash animation describing how Wall Street’s recklessness had destroyed the economy.

The video stopped, and I asked whether the students thought it was effective. An older student raised his hand.

“What about Fannie and Freddie?” he asked. “Government kept giving homes to black people, to help out black people, white people didn’t get anything, and then they couldn’t pay for them. What about that?”

I gave a quick response about how most experts would disagree with that assumption, that it was actually an oversimplification, and pretty dishonest, and isn’t it good that someone made the video we just watched to try to clear things up? And, hey, let’s talk about whether that was effective, okay? If you don’t think it was, how could it have been?

The rest of the discussion went on as usual.

The next week, I got called into my director’s office. I was shown an email, sender name redacted, alleging that I “possessed communistical [sic] sympathies and refused to tell more than one side of the story.” The story in question wasn’t described, but I suspect it had do to with whether or not the economic collapse was caused by poor black people.

My director rolled her eyes. She knew the complaint was silly bullshit. I wrote up a short description of the past week’s class work, noting that we had looked at several examples of effective writing in various media and that I always made a good faith effort to include conservative narratives along with the liberal ones.

Along with a carbon-copy form, my description was placed into a file that may or may not have existed. Then … nothing. It disappeared forever; no one cared about it beyond their contractual duties to document student concerns. I never heard another word of it again.

That was the first, and so far only, formal complaint a student has ever filed against me.

Continue reading at:  http://www.vox.com/2015/6/3/8706323/college-professor-afraid

One Response to “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me”

  1. JinianVictoria Herdina Says:

    The ABSOLUTE BEST professor I had in college taught in Political Science specifically International Law and Constitutional Law. He made us think! Any view was welcome to be expressed BUT you had better be prepared to defend your argument or view! And that meant supporting views, documents. personages whatever was required. When some idiot starts using terms like communist or whatever and then accuses someone of being that.;;;it smacks of mindless thinking by mindless robots. When you have to constantly review what you are teaching to pure pablum for the mass then you are demeaning your role as a teacher. Teachers are supposed to MAKE you think. If you choose not to think then you do not need to be in college or in the particular class in question. A anonymous accusation smacks of pure McCarthyism and the Know Nothing party of the 1800s.. Teachers can be good or bad but they are STILL teachers! If you object to some teachers subject or method then stand up and say exactly why and put your name to it! What this student did was a disgrace and He or she should be censored and thrown out of college! Anonymous accusations? I wonder how the student would react if someone accused him ANONYMOUSLY of being a thief and a liar? Or perhaps reported him to the IRS as not reporting all of their income? ALL done Anonymously of course! And the teachers response …how do you disprove a negative? jUST a few random thoughts.

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