Monday, February 27, 2012

One little happy thing

I think this is the worst spring allergy season I've ever weathered. I'm just miserable, but am holding it together and coming in to work because the thought of the paperwork to take a sick day doesn't feel worth it.

One happy thing though: one of my intro students, after the exam last week, saw me in the hall. He asked if I had them graded, I said I had just begun them, and then he said, "Well, I'm excited for this exam. I studied really hard and I think I did well."

He earned a 96 - the top score. So he was right to be excited. (So often I deal with people who either think they should get maximum results for minimum effort, who don't seem to give a crap about their education - "studying hard? What's that?", or who totally take for granted earning good grades).

(Also, one drive-by comment: Not that he ever really had me all that much to begin with, but Santorum's "indoctrinating professors" comment lost me forever from supporting him. Yes, I agree that not everyone needs to go to college. And I suppose there are some professors who push their agendas in the classroom. But, HELL. If you go to the movies, if you watch Comedy Central, if you listen to really any of the news channels out there now, you are getting some kind of doctrine pushed at you. I'm really tired of profs getting singled out for this, and I'm getting really tired of working hard at a career where I feel like no one outside the university respects me. I know, I know...I shouldn't expect that. But it just seems to me that back when I was a kid, when my dad was a prof, profs were respected, it was seen as a worthwhile career that helped society. Now we're seen as parasites at best. And yes, ballooning university tuitions are a problem....but none of us on my campus have had a pay raise for some six years (well, maybe the administrators have, I don't know). I make a good living ($60K if I teach summers) but I don't think I'm wildly overpaid.

(As I've said before, I think the ballooning tuitions are a fault of three things: first, increasing unfunded mandates towards things like mainstreaming and green initiatives and stuff, and the administrative structure that comes with them - and then there are also lots of vice presidents that are created positions to honor someone (or conversely, get someone you can't fire but want out of the classroom, out of the classroom). And then also, the demand on the part of students and parents for the Newest and Greatest: cafeterias, new dorms with washers and dryers in every suite, fancy workout centers (not for the athletes; for the average student), computer centers with new computers every other year...all of that costs money. And also the fact that stuff like gas, electricity, all those things are going up)

Then again, are there ANY careers today that seem to enjoy general respect? I mean, other than sports stars and movie stars? One of the reasons I love "Dirty Jobs" is that Mike Rowe treats the people mucking out stables or dealing with garbage with respect - and those are people who really DO deserve respect, as they're the behind-the-scenes folks who do the stuff that keeps our society running. (But still, I'd like for once for professors not to be vilified. Yes, I know, there are the lazy tenured people who make the rest of us look bad, but honestly, on my campus at least, they must be less than 10% of the population...)

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