or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Working and Student Parents › Were my professor's words in regard to child birth stories cruel and demeaning?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Were my professor's words in regard to child birth stories cruel and demeaning? - Page 3

post #41 of 84
Thread Starter 
Thanks, for the comments, but I can't put aside my I need an A attitude. That is my personality. I tell myself at the beginning of the term that I am going to make A's and only A's and I make A's. And well two B's. I am quite proud of my 3.95 GPA. I took seven classes at two schools and made 6 A's and one B last year, so I am justified in saying that I need an A. I set my goals and I don't modify them for anyone. I earn A's. They are not given to me.

You made many valid points that I will definitely keep in mind when I write my final draft. I never write my best paper the first time around. Why, when I know that I will have to rewrite the paper one week later.

I can't feel sympathy for a person who is jaded in their career. I was tired of my career, so I returned to school to complete another bachelor’s degree to better prepare myself for medical school. I could have never insulted a customer or a colleague simply because I had heard everything that they were saying sometimes before. It is unprofessional and even childish to vent frustrations on others simply because one’s life is not what they want it to be.


I would have appreciated criticism, but I never received any. Not all childbirth narratives are the same. If she had told me what she did not like my paper and suggested changes (which I am sure she will do once my rough draft is returned) I would have listened and made the correct changes. This professor did not do that. Instead she quickly read a paper that was submitted a week early and discovered that it happened to be a birth narrative. Instead of waiting until she could critique my paper she sent out a broad rant to the entire class begging that she receive no more birth stories. There is a definite difference between critiquing a paper and venting frustrations to a class.

All of her communications to students have the same general tone. She has made comments in regard to other students which are far worse than the one directed at me.

I am quite confident in my abilities; my actual concern is for those who are not.
post #42 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by piad View Post
All of her communications to students have the same general tone. She has made comments in regard to other students which are far worse than the one directed at me.
And this is really the root of the issue, then. Not the comments on your paper specifically (and, as I said before, I didn't have an opportunity to read them) ... but if the teacher runs an online classroom, she needs to be aware of how her announcements/comments are coming across to the students themselves. I often double and triple-read my postings to fellow students to ensure that I'm not out of line with them.

Have you communicated with this instructor one-on-one before? Do you think that she would react positively to a note from you about perception/tone?
post #43 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MFuglei View Post
And this is really the root of the issue, then. Not the comments on your paper specifically (and, as I said before, I didn't have an opportunity to read them) ... but if the teacher runs an online classroom, she needs to be aware of how her announcements/comments are coming across to the students themselves. I often double and triple-read my postings to fellow students to ensure that I'm not out of line with them.

Have you communicated with this instructor one-on-one before? Do you think that she would react positively to a note from you about perception/tone?

No, I do not think that a not will help. After I registered for the class, I looked at at the rate my professor site. None of the comments were positive in any way. NONE. However, I need to take this class now. The comments of other students should be looked at objectively and that I was I did. Sometimes students will post negative remarkk about the instructor because there grade was less than they expected or because the course was difficult. Now I understand why she has such a low rating.

I am going to wait and see how the rest of the semester unfolds. Maybe these are beginning of the semester kinks that need to be unfurled. I am just reticent about speaking my mind. Some instructors are not receptive to complaints from students.
post #44 of 84
I teach English at a university and I might outlaw some topics (usually I put "off limits" rules on things like death of a close relative or friend). There are reasons for that; it is hard to write well about a very emotional topic.

That said, it should have been clearly stated up front and you should feel totally okay about confronting your teacher on that, especially since putting the rule out AFTER the draft was turned in is embarrassing and frustrating for you.
post #45 of 84
Piad, you said you don't ever turn in your best work for a first draft because you know you'll have to rewrite completely. Isn't it possible that if you did turn in your best work and then rewrote according to feedback your best would get even better?

I'm sorry you have to deal with such a difficult personality in your instructor.

And I'm glad that in the tiny corner of academia in which I teach we don't actually give letter grades.....at all.
post #46 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by piad View Post
Thanks, for the comments, but I can't put aside my I need an A attitude. That is my personality. I tell myself at the beginning of the term that I am going to make A's and only A's and I make A's. And well two B's. I am quite proud of my 3.95 GPA. I took seven classes at two schools and made 6 A's and one B last year, so I am justified in saying that I need an A. I set my goals and I don't modify them for anyone. I earn A's. They are not given to me.
Fine, but do not go to your teacher -- any teacher -- saying, "I need an A." If a student came to me and said that, I'd say, "Then drop my class today. No, don't sit through class, go get a drop slip and I'll sign it." If a student is there for a grade, and if a student is that focused on a grade, then I know that student will not make good use of my class. Instead she'll try to guess what I want (and be toweringly frustrated), and will be cynical about her schoolwork. Also, she'll be unjustifiably angry with me and take up my (unpaid) time arguing and threatening if she receives a deservedly poor grade, because she cannot accept the idea that she has in fact done poorly.

Quote:
You made many valid points that I will definitely keep in mind when I write my final draft. I never write my best paper the first time around. Why, when I know that I will have to rewrite the paper one week later.
To save time, to avoid turning in shoddy work, and because after two drafts you're still not done. See "will approach schoolwork cynically", above.

Quote:
I can't feel sympathy for a person who is jaded in their career. I was tired of my career, so I returned to school to complete another bachelor’s degree to better prepare myself for medical school. I could have never insulted a customer or a colleague simply because I had heard everything that they were saying sometimes before. It is unprofessional and even childish to vent frustrations on others simply because one’s life is not what they want it to be.
You are missing the point. Your customer or colleague is making conversation, not crafting dialogue as performance. And, frankly, you're still hardheaded enough to refuse to understand that your teacher has given you a present.

In one of my writing classes -- the students were better writers than you are, by the way, and a few were serious about it -- I once looked over the responses to an exercise I set, and saw they were almost nothing but cliche. Cliche is a serious problem because it means you haven't done the work of being precise about the situation; you've grabbed a tired readymade off the shelf. So I cut and pasted into a document all the variations on a single cliche that I found in their work. Nearly every student's work was represented there. That was the entire document; I made no comment. When I passed it out and they saw what they'd done, it was painful to them, to be sure, but they got the point, and their work improved. Afterwards several of them said, "Ow, but thank you." That's what useful criticism is. Ow, but thank you. And that's what you got from your teacher. If you can't pick up the clue and run with it, this is your problem, not hers.

It is not your writing teacher's job, by the way, to hold you by the hand and help you write by numbers. She's shown you there's a problem in your work. This is more than most editors will bother to do after they reject your manuscript. If you cannot see where the problem is, it is your job to go to her office hours, WITHOUT BEING DEFENSIVE, and ask her to get more specific. Not to prove herself, and not to sit there in front of you like you're judge and jury, but to help you see what's wrong.

Quote:
I would have appreciated criticism, but I never received any. Not all childbirth narratives are the same. If she had told me what she did not like my paper and suggested changes (which I am sure she will do once my rough draft is returned) I would have listened and made the correct changes. This professor did not do that. Instead she quickly read a paper that was submitted a week early and discovered that it happened to be a birth narrative. Instead of waiting until she could critique my paper she sent out a broad rant to the entire class begging that she receive no more birth stories. There is a definite difference between critiquing a paper and venting frustrations to a class.
See above. You have misinterpreted your teacher. She has given you criticism; she's told you that you wrote a yawner, and I'd bet that in her rant she explained a little about why it was a yawner. If you can't take it from there on your own, that's fine, but it's your responsibility now go to her and ask for help.

Quote:
All of her communications to students have the same general tone. She has made comments in regard to other students which are far worse than the one directed at me.
It is not the writing teacher's job to make you love her or to make you feel loved. It is her job to help you teach yourself to become a better writer. And it is no teacher's job to give you a "fix this and get an A" list. Some teachers do it because they are tired, and scared of losing the $70K+ investment in their graduate degrees, and have given up. Who suffers? You. Your future employers. Your children. But hey, you'll always have that A.

Quote:
I am quite confident in my abilities; my actual concern is for those who are not.
If you were in my class and came to me with that sort of confidence in your writing, I would tell you that I thought your writing had serious problems, most of them probably fixable. I'd also tell you that if you didn't work on those problems, you'd be limited, in my estimation, to self-employment or lower-middle managerial levels, and that you should take the problems seriously, nevermind grades or classes. Your writing teacher will never tell you these things, because she probably wants to keep her job. But yes, you need to pay attention to what these people are telling you, and ask yourself why they might be taking the time to do it. They ain't doing it for their health, and they're certainly not getting paid to do it.

Stop being so hardheaded and consider that your teacher might be telling you something useful. Then try to figure out what it is, and if you can't, ask.
post #47 of 84
In response to Mama41's post I once again say: if a professor is tired of reading about subjects she unilaterally considers "yawners" (in this case sports and birth stories), then she should ban them outright, NOT after the assignment has been posted.

I agree on the I need an A mentality and accepting criticism. But telling the class not to write about subject A or subject B because they are "all the same" after giving an assignment is not a fair move. If she has it as an after thought she can then post that announcement the NEXT time she assigns a personal narrative.
post #48 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Breeder View Post
If she has it as an after thought she can then post that announcement the NEXT time she assigns a personal narrative.
I agree.
post #49 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by piad View Post
Thanks, for the comments, but I can't put aside my I need an A attitude. That is my personality. I tell myself at the beginning of the term that I am going to make A's and only A's and I make A's. And well two B's. I am quite proud of my 3.95 GPA. I took seven classes at two schools and made 6 A's and one B last year, so I am justified in saying that I need an A. I set my goals and I don't modify them for anyone. I earn A's. They are not given to me.
And what happens if you earn all Bs one quarter? What happens to your self esteem? I'm worried that your self-esteem is too wrapped up in the grade.

I would echo what mama41 said: If all you're focused on is the grade, then you are not going to learn. Oh, you may earn the grade, but you will be too afraid to make mistakes. And you will irritate the heck out of your professors, none of whom will give you a decent letter of recommendation.

BUT if your primary concern is the grade, not the knowledge, you're in for a rude awakening at some point in time.

Quote:
I never write my best paper the first time around. Why, when I know that I will have to rewrite the paper one week later.
: I can't understand this at all. Why not submit your best work (or close to it) so you can improve. this makes it sound like you think you have nothing to learn. As someone who has been writing for 15+ years in my field (and I'm considered a good writer in my area), I can guarantee you, there is always something to learn!

Quote:
All of her communications to students have the same general tone. She has made comments in regard to other students which are far worse than the one directed at me.
This is something you should address with her after the course is over - and inform the department chair and the dean. They need to know (keep specific e-mails).
post #50 of 84
I agree completely with mama41.
post #51 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by happyhippiemama View Post
I agree completely with mama41.
Me too. I wish every student could read this post and take it to heart!
post #52 of 84
I completely agree with LynnS who is also one of my favorite MDC members because her blog kicks hoo-hah.
post #53 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Quote:
I never write my best paper the first time around. Why, when I know that I will have to rewrite the paper one week later.
: I can't understand this at all. Why not submit your best work (or close to it) so you can improve. this makes it sound like you think you have nothing to learn.

That was one of my first thoughts as well.
post #54 of 84
I find it completely unfair to ban a topic AFTER the assignment has been written. I would keep a record of things like this and write a letter to the dean/department chair/etc. after the class is completed.
I'm so sorry your birth story wasn't given the respect it deserves. Your story is sacred. I shared my birth story in my writing class, and I know what a big deal it is to share something so personal. I really loved reading your story and I'm so sorry you got the response you did.
I admire your academic goal to strive for only A's; most people don't have that drive. And I also never submit my final paper first--I have much more success with just getting everything on paper and getting the teacher's feedback before proceeding to perfect it. It sounds like you're excelling in school so your system is working for you!
post #55 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by RockStarMom View Post
I admire your academic goal to strive for only A's; most people don't have that drive. And I also never submit my final paper first--I have much more success with just getting everything on paper and getting the teacher's feedback before proceeding to perfect it. It sounds like you're excelling in school so your system is working for you!
I actually understand the drive for an A, too, but I think what others are pointing out is more that she seems to think there's nothing for her to learn. She's set up a system to get an A in each (or most) classes, but she's not actually learning anything new. To say that she submits subpar work on the first draft just because she's going to have to rewrite it is the same as saying the professor can't teach her anything because her "real" work would be too good.

As a professional writer, I'm often amazed when I re-evaluate editors' suggestions as how much someone else can tighten up/improve my writing, and I know that my writing is better than most. For the original question, yes, the prof should have indicated her preference not to read birth stories before the assignment, but the issues raised later in this thread are important as well.
post #56 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by piad View Post
It is possible that others had written about the same topic, but I doubt it. My paper was submitted early and the only one. I received an email informing me that my paper was submitted too early. The narrative essay was due on the 1st of March and the narrative assignment was due on February 24th. Both papers were submtiited before February 24th, but I completed the March 1st assignment before the one due on February 24th.
I'm not understanding the sequence of events here. You had a narrative assignment (what was that?) due Feb. 24 and the paper (the draft you posted here?) due Mar. 1. Are you saying that you subbed the draft of the paper before the Feb. 24 assignment (and both before Feb. 24)?

If so, then I think that changes the dynamic a bit. She may have intended to give the additional instruction but not expected anyone to turn the assignment in so early. She may have thought you didn't spend much time on it because you turned it in so early.

When my mother went back to school, she worked FT and was a single mom. She did most assignments well in advance just to keep up and in case sickness, overtime, or some other problem cropped up, but she always checked first to make sure that was okay. For some profs, it wasn't, but for others it was fine.
post #57 of 84
I usually don't submit my "best" work in a draft because if I work that hard, what usually happens is that I have gone off in a direction that turns out to be wrong. So then I have to undo everything to the point that I have some mediocre work (since my best wasn't better than mediocre, after all) and redo everything in a better direction. Whereas if I'd submitted the mediocre work in the first place, I would have gotten the same directional critiques and saved several hours.
post #58 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by RockStarMom View Post
I find it completely unfair to ban a topic AFTER the assignment has been written. I would keep a record of things like this and write a letter to the dean/department chair/etc. after the class is completed.
A word about this mentality, because your unrealistic (and frequently unhealthy) expectations of professors are driving people out of teaching. Not horrible mean incompetent teachers, but good, bright, generous teachers who used to be willing to work for beans because they loved their subjects and teaching.

I do mean beans, by the way. If you're at a community college, most of your teachers are making under $20K/yr, with no benefits, and they're working ridiculously hard for the money. $20K/yr means they teach 5 courses per semester, which also means they're likely driving around from branch to branch. When I did charity work, I mean taught at a cc, my roundtrip used to be 150 miles.

If you're at a university, unless you're upper-level or a grad student, most of your courses are probably taught by TAs or adjuncts making similar money. About as good as it gets in university adjunctland is $5000/course -- again, no benefits -- and that's very rare. That's if you have significant expertise in the field and it's presumed you're going to be spending serious time advising students.

The only way you make middle-class money as a professor is by landing a tenured faculty position. To do that, you stay in school until you're nearly 30, putting yourself through a multi-year hazing process that makes the usual condition of grad students freaked-out, ulcered, fat, and depressed. (That's without children.) Oh, and poor, because odds are that unless you're very very good at what you do, you'll be $50-$100K in debt by the time you're done. Then you spend a few years dragging your family around the country for salaries in the $40K range, no guarantee of 1-year contract renewal. You work 80-hour weeks, because you must not only teach but publish well. Then maybe you'll get a tenure-track job. You may find that if you want to take the job, you have to live hundreds of miles from your spouse. Academics do this. Once you've gotten your job, you'll spend the next 3-5 years kissing ass hysterically, continuing to work all the time, and trying to prove to the department that you are in fact an asset and worthy of tenure.

Then, if they all like you, you'll get tenure. At a public university, you might hit the big time and make $60K. You're now in your mid-30s. You will continue to work 60+ hour weeks until you approach retirement age.

Over the last couple of decades, as universities have tried to adjust to the idea of having business models, student input has become more and more important in how professors are hired. It's universally acknowledged that the students have no idea what in hell they're talking about (and why should they?), but even so, administrations take these things seriously because their job is to recruit students and stay popular. Unfortunately, all this has happened at the same time students are coming out of K-12 after growing up on standardized tests. They've had a decade of being taught that the only thing that's important is the grade, and by God they're going to get that grade. What's more, they deserve it.

Universally, professors are finding that they cannot teach. They may pander, but if a teacher rubs a student the wrong way, or a student is upset because she's doing poorly in the class and is looking to blame someone else for it, the student will run to the dean. Who may take them seriously. So -- slowly, and then not so slowly -- many good professors are finding that 12+ years of study, scholarship, generous teaching, and poverty can be undone by a handful of children who don't know how to go to school, but who do have a vast sense of customer-service entitlement, and are like wombats when it comes to grades.

So, like grade-school teachers, after a few years they leave. Almost anything else pays better. I find that I can work for industry and make so much more than I did as a cc professor that I can work part-time, support a child and a mortgage, and write and do my research part-time. I do occasionally miss teaching (I enjoyed most of my students, even the ones who threw hysterical fits in my office, and they seemed to like me too), but overall this is much nicer.

The result, for you, is that your teachers have much less experience, and they go in regarding you defensively. They're also willing to pander to you, because they've heard that if they don't, they'll get fired. So they don't do the sort of things your writing teacher did. They stroke your egos and lead you through the simplest of simple lessons, and never once will they tell you that your writing sounds like you were kept out of school as a child. Never once will they tell you that they view their students' laziness and gradegrubbing with revulsion.

Get out of the habit of believing that your teachers are there to make you feel good about yourself. Get out of the habit of believing that you have nothing to learn from someone who has forgotten a syllabus rule or failed to apply it in a way that you think fair. Get used to the idea that life is occasionally unfair. You are there to learn; they are there because they know something. Ignore the rest, and find out what they have that you can know. You'll find yourself considerably smarter, and you'll find that you have a new understanding of "work". It'll be good for you, I promise.
post #59 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
I usually don't submit my "best" work in a draft because if I work that hard, what usually happens is that I have gone off in a direction that turns out to be wrong. So then I have to undo everything to the point that I have some mediocre work (since my best wasn't better than mediocre, after all) and redo everything in a better direction. Whereas if I'd submitted the mediocre work in the first place, I would have gotten the same directional critiques and saved several hours.
Wrong. In the process of teaching yourself to write well, you will have learned the things that are the point of the class. If you have to tear down and rewrite, you will still know the things you learned while doing your best.

That, not the grade, is the point of the class.

If the problem is that you're heading off in the wrong direction, check the assignment more frequently and ask if you have questions. Stop and ask yourself: What am I supposed to be doing here? Am I sure? Where exactly does it say that?

I write for a living. I head off in wrong directions too. It's part of writing, and it's part of education. We do not achieve 100% efficiency, and it's a good thing too. Not only are the tangents interesting, but many of them have turned into new and quite lucrative projects. But when I'm under a very tight deadline, you can bet that I check, and recheck, and recheck the editor's instructions, and if I find I don't understand or I have a question, I call and ask. Right then.
post #60 of 84
Mama41 - just to say that I have found your posts to be extremely articulate and powerful, and I hope the OP takes note of them (alas, I may be asking too much there...)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Working and Student Parents
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Working and Student Parents › Were my professor's words in regard to child birth stories cruel and demeaning?