Professors are sheep too?!

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

December 7, 2007


Categories: The Balancing Act

It’s been almost two years that I’ve been Wisdom Tooth Free. I finally had a job with insurance, and quite respectable insurance at that. There was a $20 co-pay, they didn’t argue about the chiropractic benefits, and they covered nearly everything for dental. Sadly, one of my wisdom teeth impacted, which decayed the tooth in front of it. I had a porcelain crown put in, and after checking benefits for the year, we had to wait until the year rolled over, which was soon. Then, we scheduled an appointment for me to get checked by their orthodontist. After the consultation, we scheduled a date for me to get all four wisdom teeth taken out at the same time. I’d be put under and everything. They just had one disclaimer, you need to have a ride home, and the person giving you the ride had to stay there the entire time, which would be a little over an hour.

Kate was quite perplexed, when she had her wisdom teeth out a few months before, her dentist had a room where the patient slept until their ride was there to take them. So, I questioned the office. The receptionist threatened, what if something were to happen? Well, that didn’t make sense, because if, God forbid, you were to get in a car accident on the way there or home, the person giving you a ride would too! No one would make it! No one said they’d be libel. In a follow-up appointment after the operation was over, not having liked the receptionists fear mongering reasoning, I questioned the doctor after he gave me the A-Okay. I chastised the office for fear mongering as a reason (it only perpetuates hate and the problems in our society), and I begged (practically) for better reasoning. It didn’t come, although he did say they didn’t have beds there, and they didn’t babysit. He clearly didn’t’ like my questioning, and in irritation, I muttered, “So you would just prefer everyone to be like sheep then.” The thing that pissed me off the most, and still does, was that he agreed. He noted my comment and he agreed that he would prefer everyone to be like sheep. To agree with him, mindlessly nod, never question, and move on. It would certainly make his job easier, but where’s the challenge? Where’s the learning? Where’s the learning new ideas, experiencing new things?

Fast-forward two years. This school term has been hard, really hard. I’ve been having a very difficult time managing all of my roles as mother, wife, and student, not to mention those side roles like friend, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, and aunt. Take out a few roles, and it seems like life would be more manageable. But, as they say, you made your bed, now you have to lie in it. And, furthermore, who would trade being a mother when you’ve got such a cute bug like Levi? I wouldn’t’ trade his chipmunk cheeks and watching him grow up for anything. The husband is nice too; it’s nice watching how quickly our relationship has progressed in such a short time. I’m getting teary-eyed just writing this!

As Kate will attest, I am not passive aggressive. I’ve noticed that my passiveness occurs only when I’m trying to figure out what to say. After that, I will tell you what’s on my mind, and usually, I will try diplomacy (years of customer service work, thank you). Nevertheless, like my mother, I am blunt, and I don’t stand idly watching while I can do something about something. If that means speaking at a City Council meeting, writing a letter-to-the editor, telling someone if they’ve been rude, or disagreeing with a doctor or professor.

The classes I signed up for this term were more unrelated and diverse than other terms or semesters. One of the classes I enrolled for was Cities and 3rd World Development. I had purposely avoided that class because I had an idea what it would be like, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with those mindsets. But, this fall, I had to change a lot of things around, and I was going full time again, versus the previous part-time, new mommy term. I had to take classes during the day to accommodate Peter’s new night schedule. And since this was offered at noon, and was on my minor list, I finally relented and signed up. Meeting only once a week meant you had to pack a lot in during the two and a half hour meeting time.

Three books were assigned, Global Rift, Globalization and the Postcolonial World, and my least favorite, Planet of Slums. For the most part, this class was very informative in giving a good solid ground on how 3rd world countries came to be. It was very interesting learning that a lot of this was repeated patterns from colonialism and slave trade; the same nations that were subjugated then are worse off now. The powers to be have only shared roles, they have not relinquished them. During an early class, I did not agree with something our dear professor said, and I told him so. And, I kept going back to it during his long winded lectures where he often forgot to give breaks and frequently had to be reminded. I told Peter after class that I hope that day’s episode didn’t come back to bite me in the ass.

On the day of the midterm I did not feel well. Simply, I was menstruating again, after having an absence of nearly a year-and-a-half, so I was in pain. My doctor even prescribed me Vicodin, which wasn’t working. I felt so sick that I felt I was going to throw up. After missing nearly every other class that week, I had to go to this one, it was the midterm. I answered the two chosen essay questions, the best I could, and I left, mentioning I wasn’t feeling good, but not staying to explain because I needed to leave right then and not linger while some jerk face idly nodded. A week later, when we got our scores, I was not surprised to see I got a “C”. I didn’t give it my all because I was physically unable to do so. But, that’s life, what’s done is done, and I certainly didn’t feel like explaining further to him my physical aliments, what it’s like to be a woman, and beg why I should get a retake. It wasn’t worth it, and I didn’t care.

The next assignment was a series to get the student primed to turn in the paper. The first step was to turn in the proposal which included a narrative, research question, a paragraph how one plans to answer the research question, and an outline defining the steps one would take. After we turned it in, me and a handful of other students had their proposals returned, “Resubmit” was the instruction with a vague reason why. After five grueling resubmits, all of which were rejected, he sends an email to me and three others saying we should consider taking an incomplete for the class as we’re nearing the 8th week and it’s far too late to write an adequate paper. I wanted to scream in his face, “No shit Sherlock, it would help if you would have told me what the fuck was wrong with my proposal.”

His instructions in the syllabus were confusing and convoluted. He had instructions scattered over several pages, and no one set seemed coherent to my feeble brain. After complaining to another student, it was revealed that our dear professor’s criticisms of our proposals being too vague was vague in and of itself. This is sick irony, I realized. I’ve had another professor like this, the type where you constantly get worse in the class instead of better. In retrospect it seems to coincide directly with what you say in class. The more vocal you get, the worse you do.

If in my other classes I was also getting a “C”, it would be a different story, I wouldn’t have complained, I would have assumed it was a product of my work. But, in my other classes I get As. Consistently. In fact, my time here at PSU has been my best college thus far. I’ve felt direction, improvement, and beamed at being on the Dean’s List, if only once. I took 16 credits, something I would never have done at MSU, the term I got pregnant, and got a 4.0. And, now I have a vague proposal and a “C” on the midterm.

The final comes around, and I studied as before in a group. Tami and James were quite helpful. I spent the entire two hours on the exam this time. I made my standard outline, jotted down several notes for each of the two chosen questions, wrote for about 40-45 minutes each, double checked my work, more than twice, and after I was satisfied, it was almost two hours past, I turned in my exam. I spent twice as long on the final as compared to the midterm, I should get a grade that two-times better, right? Not so, this time I received a “C+”, which was realized after being chastised during my lame presentation for NOT BEING specific enough. Again, I wanted to scream, “Well no shit Sherlock, you think you could have told me that earlier this week when I resubmitted my proposal, four days ago!” His answer was that he just hadn’t gotten to it.

So, now I have until January 11th to finish this ridiculous paper. Now, I will try paper topic number four, and resubmit number eight.

Then, I will complain, but to whom? Will anything be done? Will it be worth it in the end? I complained on the evaluation, but seriously, I’m going to be one of 30 students, maybe the only one who didn’t like him. All the other students seemed awed by his presence, as if he was the god. So many times during the class, I felt like I was in a remake of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Was it only me seeing the naked king? Can’t anybody else see it? The books we are reading are not good, they are long-winded, dry, and redundant, so how can everyone in the class really enjoy it? The realization I had was that Professors are sheep. They want to go along spouting their truths they have learned while in Academia. They do not want to be challenged. They want to be reassured why they are right. They want to follow what they already know. Professors, they are sheep too.

After this nearly 2,000 word Blog, I have a few questions for those reading.

Have you ever challenged an authority figure and paid for it by getting a poor grade in class or being chastised at work? If so, what did you do about it? Do you agree with my ending assumption that most professors are sheep just like the normal Joe?


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