Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And We're Off!

Well, today was the day. My students (some of them) turned in their first papers - a review/reaction of the movie Kinsey. The longer I teach, the longer my syllabus grows. I figured that the reason students weren't doing certain things (stapling their papers, for example) was because I simply wasn't being clear about what I expected. My latest (and longest) syllabus could not be more explicit (in my opinion) about papers. The reaction papers are supposed to be a minimum of 3 pages. Double spaced. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. One inch margins all the way around. Stapled (if not stapled, instructor will deduct 5 points), and a cover sheet (another 5 points deducted if no cover sheet.)

And yet. Personally, when it comes to school stuff, I like structure. If you (as my instructor) tell me that a paper must be between 18-20 pages, I get that. At no point in my sometimes seriously malfunctioning brain do I think, "Hmm. She must not mean me. I'm going to type 10 pages instead." If you (as my instructor) tell me that I need a minimum of 12 references from scholarly journals, I am pretty confident that you and I are on the same page where "12" is concerned.

Today, one of my students handed me his assignment - not stapled, no cover sheet. He asked (which means he knew he was violating something, even if he wasn't sure exactly what), "I didn't staple my paper and I don't have a cover sheet. What does that mean?" I replied, "That means you lose 10 points." Then, student got a bit of a 'tude, rolled his eyes and mumbled, "Just forget it, then. I'll do another one." Exasperated sigh. Is he THAT put upon by my requests? Is stapling one's paper the modern-day equivalent of walking 5 miles to school, uphill both ways, in the snow, wearing a paper dress? Honestly, maybe I'm kooky that way, but I never really thought taking that extra step to staple my paper was tantamount to say, donating a kidney. A few other students managed the staple thing, but failed on the cover sheet. And then, finally, more than a few students turned in, oh, about 2 and a quarter pages. This is not three pages. This is barely two (in my opinion.) I am DYING to ask them, "What is your thought process?" Seriously. What part of "minimum of three pages" don't you understand? Is it THAT hard to write a few more paragraphs? Think of something remotely intelligent and record it? I guess. Perhaps I will find out when they get their papers back, with points deducted for failing to meet minimum requirements. That's always fun.

I leave the classroom and see some papers on the floor. On a hunch, I bend down and pick them up and they are my student's unstapled paper(s). All the world's a trashcan, apparently! Oddly, next to the trashcan where I threw out the paper was a rather large female student sleeping, homeless style, on the floor. Semi-fetal position, curled up facing the wall, sleeping on a floor so disgusting I wouldn't let my dog pee on it. It was the only time in my life I wished for a camera phone because I knew that NO ONE would believe me.

Those two incidents made me think about all the stupid/dangerous/disgusting things I did in college. Some of the bars I frequented had bathrooms so foul I can't believe they weren't shut down by the board of health, and I used them on more than one occasion, so I get that one's standards of cleanliness change with age. But. I am almost 99.9% certain that I never slept on the hallway floor of a public building. Perhaps I shouldn't mock and I'm being insensitive. Maybe the young lady was narcoleptic? But, she didn't look like she spontaneously fell into a sleeping position or a diabetic coma - she looked pretty well camped out there (using backpack as pillow). And just in case you think I'm overreacting or being prissy, you must think about one of the most disgusting surfaces you've ever seen, and then imagine sleeping on it. This floor is THAT dirty.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Well there you have it!

From the article "How to Get a Book Deal from Your Blog":

"People who love to obsess over things are natural bloggers. Not just because they will blog every day and sometimes multiple times per day, but also because they like to tweak, change, edit, redesign, add, remove, and fiddle around with their archives, profile, settings, template, etc. So if you are strange, and you have things to tell people about, or even if you don't, now's a good time to start a blog. "

I'm strange and I love to obsess over things. If that doesn't explain it, well, then I guess that doesn't explain it.

And it can always be worse!

One of my favorite people in the world happens to be a friend/colleague/mentor/professor-type woman. She is wise. And brilliant, witty and quick. She also has the temperament I wish I had. Even-keel, you might say. Unflappable. Patient. Understanding and non-judgmental. And she has, this semester, been "flapped." In one of her classes, she has, drum-roll please, a thumb-sucker. Thumbsucker does not twirl her hair while she sucks her thumb, but she does play with her ear. And my wonderful friend is really most rattled by the fact that she is rattled. She thought she had seen everything. And then. Not so much.

Believe me, I understand how people can wrestle with unsightly, unsanitary and annoying habits. Just ask my husband about my tendency to pick at my cuticles (without being aware of it) while we're watching TV. It's disgusting. I know this. And while I sometimes catch myself doing it while sitting through a particularly mind-numbing lecture, as soon as I catch myself, I sheepishly put my hands under my desk, or start frantically writing down whatever the instructor is saying (even if it's something like, "This weekend my daughter said . . ."). Also, I know that I crack my knuckles. This was another habit I didn't even know I had until a boss from my previous corporate life said (during a grand-old knuckle cracking spectacular) "That's disgusting. Don't ever do that in front of me again. It's just like passing gas (I kid you not, he said this!) - if you have to do it, go in the bathroom." Now, ironically, since he pointed this out (6 years ago) I am extremely skeeved out/irritated/nauseated by the sound of other people cracking their knuckles, all the while I am just itching to crack mine.

But. Thumbsucking? In college? And not just in your room, while you're trying to fall asleep and only completely freaking out your roommate, but in class?!?!?!?! My advisor mentioned something about SBH students in elementary education settings (Severe Behavioral Handicap), but later reminded me to remember the PFNs. Plain fuckin' nuts.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Okay, it's not ALL bad

Okay, so it's not all functionally illiterate Christian fundamentalists:

Dear Ms. Teacher,

I just wanted to let you know that I read a few of the books you recommended over break. I read Linda Lovelace's autobiography (very excellent, and made me want to see Deepthroat) as well as And the Band Played On (informative and quite beneficial to Dr. so-and-so's class). I will be attempting to read a few more throughout the semester, and please keep me informed of any other readings you might come across.

I am writing to ask if I may set up a meeting with you at some point this semester to discuss the possibility of changing my major to human sexuality. Ultimately, I feel that fashion design will be an empty and unfulfilling career path for me; while I love the concept, it is difficult for me to tolerate some aspects of the industry. I have done a bit of research and found out that the career possibilities include sex therapy, sex research, and sex education. I would like to discuss other options that you may be knowledgeable of, as well as any other pertinent information that you would be willing to give.

Please let me know at your earliest available convenience when you will be available for consultation. Thank you very much in advance for your time and efforts concerning this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Nicely McNicerton

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Life is Complete

One of my colleagues welcomed me back to school with a gift. My very own Jesus action figure, complete with glow-in-the-dark hands. If you want to buy your very own Prince of Peace, you can get yourself some salvation at Our Savior retails for only $12.99. My colleague is aware of my obsession with a little website called Jesus of the Week, which has served as relief from Corporate America tedium for more years than I can count.

Anyway, this is ALL very ironic, largely due to the student who e-mailed me just the other day. It turns out, I should have been scared by the Jesus reference at the bottom of her e-mail.

Nothing is worse than a know-it-all who doesn't really know it all. The first week of class, we discuss Chapter 1 - sort of an overview on sexuality. One of the things the authors of the text discuss is the impact Christianity has had on the Western world's take on sex. Of course, the authors write about Paul of Tarsus and how he believed celibacy was the key to spirituality, and if you weren't at all interested in controlling your baser urges, then at least have sex only within the confines of marriage. First of all, this student is a senior. Her brother is a freshman. They sat WAY too close to each other (in a Friends "The One with the Inappropriate Sister" episode kind of way) and whispered and conferred with each other on everything I said. I kind of felt like I was in a debate. So, sister raises her hand and says, "Um, I'm not really familiar with that take on the Bible. I don't really think that's true. The Lord told us to be fruitful and multiply."Why, why, WHY doesn't my brain work faster than it does? I should have said, "Well, we're just interested in our authors' take on the Bible, so let's stick with that." Instead I get all flustered (as usual) and start stammering and stuttering about how that's certainly interesting, but I'm not a theology expert, and blah, blah, blah. THEN I continue with the text notes and talk about Eve (as in Adam and Eve) as the "ultimate temptress" and how some speculate that the real original sin was not eating a fruit from the tree of Knowledge, but taking Knowledge in its more, um, Biblical meaning. As in, "Adam knew Eve in the Biblical sense." I am interrupted from my lecture by frantic whispering - Bible sibs are muttering to each other so quickly, I start to wonder if I'm in actual physical danger of some sort. Hand shoots up in the air. "Um, that's not at all true. In fact, I've NEVER heard that." Why can't I say, "Really? Well, I don't care and clearly you don't get out much." Then, to top it all off, they come traipsing up to my office so inappropriate brother can get a syllabus, and much to my horror, I completely forgot about my totally politically incorrect, intolerant, inappropriate Jesus Action Figure. Oy.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Just a little scared

I received this e-mail from one of my new students yesterday:

Hi ms Teacher, this is Joey Blow from your 12:30 class.
i am really in hopes that this class will be very enlightening
as to our physical nature. i have a little brother that is getting
married soon, and this is my last semester here and i really
really want to have one last class with him before i leave here.
i know it is pretty full , but i was hoping you would have the grace to
give him permission to get in.
maybe some people dropped the class?
i am hoping to bring him tomorrow, is that OK?
his name is Moe. this would mean a lot to me.

* ~sieze the day} "be as a child" : free.-jesus

I am not scared about the last little e-mail tag. Okay - I'm scared, but I'm MORE scared about the "very enlightening as to our physical nature" comment. I was too afraid to e-mail the student back and ask what he meant, but . . . does he think there will be, um, demos of our "physical nature"? Let me be perfectly clear: No one gets naked in my class. The concept of "group work" would take on a whole different meaning, and I would be fired. And maybe arrested.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Today's horoscope

Maybe today won't be so scary. Here is my horoscope:

"Your ruler, Mercury, is cheek to cheek with Venus, the planet of creativity, in the most dynamic sector of your chart (whatever that means). So whatever endeavor has your attention just has to be the start of something good."

To hell with school, let's go get baby's first Botox!

But I digress. A "five-star" day.

Today's birthdays (for you folks playing along at home):
Benjamin Franklin
Muhammad Ali
Andy Kaufman

Dragging my feet

Today is the first day back to school. I want to stay home with my biting psycho dog. Although she is a fear biter, so are many of my students, and she only weighs 11 pounds. I have to be in class in two hours. If you had told me back when I was a lass, that the instructors were just as nervous (and reticent) as the students on the first day of school, I would have thought you were smoking your socks. But no, all of us - even the tenured professors, I think - are so very, very nervous. The first day of class sets the tone for the rest of the semester, as much as I hate to admit it. If they think I'm a complete idiot on the first day of class, then all is lost for the next 15 weeks. I had a nightmare two nights ago that I had a classroom full of students (50+) and they wouldn't stop talking. I was standing in the front of the classroom shrieking, "Be quiet! Stop talking! Stop it, stop it, stop!" and they acted like I wasn't even there. This is extreme - I mean, I do teach at the college level. I've not (yet) had to scream at students to tell them to stop talking. Clearly my subconscious is beyond anxious. Well, I'm going to put on my favorite Ann Taylor black Merino wool turtleneck sweater, try not to poke my eye out with my purple eyeliner, head off to campus and hope for the best.

Friday, January 13, 2006

I Feel Violated

I would like to write a letter to Royal Caribbean. I have this thing about writing letters to organizations because I feel that my effort will be wasted. (Isn’t that funny? Unlike this blog, which I know draws in millions of readers by the hour . . . so my efforts are never wasted.)

My mom took me on my first cruise last week. I was terrified. Of course, one week before we were supposed to leave, I watched this stupid (damn you, television!) show on A&E called "Terror on the High Seas: Cruise Ships and Weird Dangerous Things That Will Happen to You When You Least Expect Them You Stupid Unsuspecting American with all the Disposable Income to Spend on Your Vacation of HORROR and Trust Us, You’ll Wish You Were Dead!” I subsequently became obsessed with George Smith the IV (you’ll notice that my obsession with things I previously knew nothing about is a recurring theme in my life), and all the things that had ever happened on any cruise ship. Sort of the Unsolved Mysteries of the high seas, if you will. One particular man who was interviewed talked about how the average cruise ship staff is “Woefully unprepared for a Cholera epidemic.” Now as someone who is supposed to be pursuing a PhD in a field that is distantly related to Public Health, I was very distraught by this, because personally, I thought we had eradicated that pesky Cholera here in the U.S. Although our ship was flying the flag of the Bahamas, so maybe that’s the problem – Cholera knows who to mess with and who to stay away from.

Of all the things I was worried about – Cholera outbreak, abduction and murder, falling overboard, food poisoning, petty theft, wedgies at the pool, I did NOT worry about the one thing that did happen – sea sickness. I do not expect Royal Caribbean to apologize for this. But I felt I must mention it because it did get third billing (me, then my mom, then sea sickness) as special guest star.

What really bothered me about Royal Caribbean was my post-spa experience, um, encounter? I am a girly-girl. You’d never know since I rarely wear makeup (too lazy, plus I always poke myself in the eye with eyeliner) and if you saw the current state of my roots you’d think I was the opposite of “girly-girl” but I DO love the pampering crap. Love it. Bring me my Mimosa while I lounge in the giant comfy chair and soak my feet in mystical soothing bath-salt-oil things. Play Enya’s latest CD and kvetch with me about the outrage that is Angelina and Brad (heartless bastards, the lot of them, if you ask me.) Let me spend 20 minutes pondering the wonder that is the new OPI collection for spring. Pretend you’ve NEVER heard me ask, “How do I GET the job of naming these nail polish colors?” Light the aromatherapy candle and then ask me if I need another Mimosa. You get the picture.

So, the idea of getting somewhere AND getting my nails done at the same time? Pure unadulterated freaking genius. Is there a better idea anywhere in the world? Since we have yet to discover a cure for cancer or an AIDS vaccine, I say no! There is no better idea anywhere. As soon as I got on the ship I made a beeline for the Ship-Shape Day Spa & Bowel of Hell (that last part I made up.) I sign up for the de rigueur manni and pedi, of course (that’s manicure and pedicure for my male non-metrosexual readers). And, oh holy sweet joy all that is good in the universe, the hot rocks massage. I’ve never had the hot rocks massage, but in the pictures it sure looks nifty, and why the hell not? Who DOESN’T want to get the hot rocks massage and bounce across the Caribbean at the same time? The hot rocks massage was outrageously expensive, but I don’t exactly have a good yardstick here. What if you went up to the average person and asked, “Excuse me, but how much would you charge me to heat up some rocks and rub them all over me for an hour and fifteen minutes?” I’d do it for a million dollars and not a penny less. So really, I got quite the bargain.

Okay, so massage was so-so. The pictures did not live up to their promise. But I’m okay with that. That’s why it’s called advertising. To blatantly borrow from Jerry Seinfeld, I don’t really expect people to appear in my living room, jumping around, playing volleyball, shouting with joy, “We have soda, we have soda!” every time I open up a Diet Pepsi.

Here’s the creepy part: AFTER the hot rocks massage. After any massage, I think (basing this on nothing but my own experience) the masseuse should say, “Would you like a cold glass of water?” and then that is it. Scram. Get the hell out of there. Leave me the f___ alone. I feel like a noodle, I have natural botanical oils in my hair, my new zits are making their debut appearance. I just want to leave and go back to the privacy of my own bathroom where the only person who has to look at my scary, red, oily, recently massaged into a state of fury face is ME. Get it? But no. My masseuse, named Svetlana from the old country, comes back in the room with a cold glass of water. Nice touch. Now give me my water and LEAVE Svetlana. No. She then does that tricky thing they do with the tables in the gynecologists’ offices where she props me up. Isn’t that great? I’m holding onto a cold glass of water with one hand, clutching my towel (and NOT 400 thread count towel either, I’ll tell you that) with the other hand, sitting on this faux exam table (all that’s missing is the stirrups!) trying not to flash this woman. AND she turns off my lovely Enya music and turns on the overhead fluorescent lights.

It is at this moment that the past 75 minutes of relaxation (and all the money I paid for those minutes) almost audibly falls into the ocean with a loud thunking crash. Why? Because I feel very, very much like I am in the gynecologist’s office. Svetlana says she has some “recommendations” for me. I imagine that this is how many of my undergraduate students must feel right before they are told they have genital warts. Somehow, I think that the students get the “you-have-warts” message delivered in a more dignified setting than the one I was in. I am getting a SALES pitch. Svetlana is trying to sell me some crap to help with my poor, fatigued muscles. She THEN instructs me to put out my hand (which one? Do I spill ice cold water all over myself or just drop the towel and figure Svetlana’s seen it all before?) so I can try the “recommendation.” At no time does she use the word product. The manicurist/pedicurist tried to sell me some “herbal supplements” – right – my doctor asks me what I’m taking and I tell him I’m taking some herbal supplements I bought from the manicurist on Grandeur of the Seas – so I know it’s probably built into their training manual: Step 7.) When the client is completely disoriented and slightly seasick, dazzle them with our crap. Vitamins, lotion – it doesn’t really matter. They don’t know what the hell is going on anyway.

But I digress. Somehow (I’ve blocked it out – I don’t remember the exact details), I manage to slather the “recommendation” on my shoulder blade (do not try this at home or in front of small children.) Then, Svetlana sits there expectantly. She stares at me. I think she’s waiting for my assessment of the recommendation, but all I really want to do is say, “Um, can you please leave so I can get dressed now?” After the long silent stare-off, Svetlana asks me what I think of her recommendation. Can we stop with that already? Let’s call a spade a spade. You’re peddling some cheap crap. That simple. Even the OB/GYNS, who aren’t trained in sales and marketing know more about this than the Royal Caribbean minions of Satan (men, no doubt), who think a disoriented middle-aged woman with ridges in her nails is a good “lead.” Do gynecologists leave you propped up in their little recliner, wearing that paper dress, hand you their bill, stare at you for 3 minutes and then say, “Well, what do you think? Did I overcharge you or are you um, interested in paying that?” CLEARLY a man came up with that technique. Isn’t the point of a cruise to relax? No woman (again, I’ve not done any empirical research – just basing this on my unofficial survey – okay – one phone call) associates going to the gynecologist’s office with relaxation or a spa treatment. On her 40th birthday a woman does not gather her 10 closest friends for champagne, a limo ride and Pap smears for everyone! Yet, somehow, Svetlana (and I blame the training, not her) managed to transform a hot rocks massage on a cruise ship into an experience eerily similar to a visit to the OB/GYN. Does Royal Caribbean hope to recreate this experience for women? Maybe that could be their next marketing campaign.


We Are All Special

This is Josephina Blowsephina. I looked at my test grade and saw that it was a 79. I was wondering if that was out of 100 or not. Because if it was, i would like to come ina nd talk to you about it, i believe i did better than that on the test. Just let me know. Thank youJosephina.

No, my dear. It was 79 out of 79. You are truly a genius.

If only I could respond with my sarcastic evil inner-child instead of my "There are no stupid questions" professor persona. Life would be so much more like a Seinfeld episode.

My advisor informs me that this 'tude is more and more common among our current 18-22 year-olds. What is this phenomenon? I'll have to do some research on these generation . . . Dubya (?) types. (By the way, W is for "whiner.") Are these the kids who all got trophies in T-ball no matter how badly they (and/or their team) sucked? At the end of the year assemblies, did these kids all get ribbons? All 859 of them? Even when the faculty was so hard pressed for ribbon-worthy accomplishments that they ended up handing out blue "Cleanest pencil pouch" ribbons?

If, like me, you are cringing while reading their e-mails, you can only IMAGINE their papers. Well, you probably can't imagine them, but they chase me during my nightmares. And the very same student who writes about the country being in the mist of a baby boom (just an FYI if you're a bit confused - it is MIDST, not mist) has the cajones to come to me and say, "I don't understand this grade. I think I'm a very good writer." Or they e-mail it to me: "i tihnk i'm a very good writter" and I'm DYING to ask, "Exactly what are you basing this on?" (Sorry for ending a sentence with a preposition, my mom the English teacher - I know better.)

I do find solace in the fact that on, the Good Grammar Costs Nothing t-shirt is on back-order. This means I am not the only person who wants this t-shirt. That is promising.

Oh, the humanity!

Dear Professor ( ) ,

My name is Joe Blow II and I am enrolled in your class( ). I am writing this letter because unfortunately I have not been able to attend your class the reason being is I have a occupation who does not work around my school schedule. I value my education but my job does not. I have to work in order to pay for this education and have been required to work during school time since the being of this school year. I do not want to drop out this quarter so I am e-mailing you to see if there is anything I can do to catch up and complete this class. Thank you for your time! Please respond by either e-mailing me at joeblow or call me on my cell phone at (555) 555-5555.

Now really. What do you suppose this student wanted me to say? (Or write?) I responded with something reasonable, but I was DYING to bust into full-blown sarcasm-mode. Something like, "Oh. You can't attend my class. Well, why didn't you just say so? I am happy to give you an A for doing nothing. Next time just let me know sooner. In fact, I honestly don't know why I even BOTHER with teaching and assignments and all that superfluous crap. The A+ grades are on the house, people!"

It Gets Better (or Worse, Depending . . .)

One of my "favorites."

Hello, I know that you may not be by your grade book, but I did the math and am 1.5 points from a "B". The over-all points was 223.5 and with the 15 other points. My total was 238.5. To obtain the 1.5 points am willing to do of all the follow. 1) I will be a speaker for your class in the fall.(A touch subjuet that i didn't talk about in class)2) write a 3 page paper on any topic (in the fall because am sure you don't want to read any more papers this summer.) 3) I will be your assistant for an hour and a half one day a week every week all of fall And if i don't full-fill what i say then you can give me a "D".

I swear - I couldn't make this stuff up. Believe me.

If you think I'm crazy

This blog will feature e-mails from my students. E-mail: the demise of higher education as I once knew it. It is my theory that e-mail creates a feeling of anonymity among students. Said students then e-mail instructors with insane questions that they would never DARE ask to an instructor's face (or over the phone, for that matter.) Many of my close friends and family often accuse me of exaggerating my students' lack of writing skills AND their chutzpah. My response: I wish. I'll get started with one of my favorites:

hi professor this is joe blow i have a question in regardsto my movie review papaer grades and why they are all a 25 out of 40 fora grade i beleive i covered the reviews of the material fully indepthand also my punctuation an spelling were average if not above. pleaseeamil me back with the reason why. thanks your very much joe blowoh ps werent we aloud to revise them or at least one of them for ahigher grade if so. i was wondering if i could do that also before theend of the semester thank you.

An excerpt from my official response in soothing green:

If I may, some basic pointers that may help you if decide to start rewriting your papers this evening: One of your most common errors, (due to typos or confusion, I am not certain) is the difference between the singular and the plural of the word woman. A woman is singular. 1 woman. Women is plural. More than one woman. The difference between singular and plural nouns, which may seem small and insignificant to you, is a basic grammar rule that should be adhered to; in my opinion, it demonstrates a fundamental grasp of the English language. A few more notes:
~ God is a proper noun and is therefore capitalized.
~ A, an, and the are called “articles.”
~ The is called a definite article because it refers to a specific thing.
~ A and an are called indefinite articles because they refer to general things.
~ The word and is a part of speech that we call a conjunction.
~ Some other conjunctions (specifically, coordinating conjunctions) are for, nor, but, or, yet and so. Throughout your papers, you use the words an and and interchangeably. Again, I am not certain if this is because you do not understand the differences between these two parts of speech, or if you simply don’t proof-read (or even grammar check) your papers.

The noun “today” which means “this day” is one word. Just one. In contrast, “too” is an adverb. It means also, in addition to, as well. “Joe and I went to the concert, too.” You seem to have more than one instance where you use these two words interchangeably. The word “myself” is a first-person pronoun. It is just one word, written as “myself.” Not “my self.”

What I really wanted to write (in riotous red):

When you go home for winter break, I highly recommend you do the following:

1.) Put down your cell phone/Blackberry/other text messaging device.

2.) Unplug your iPod/television/computer/anything that plugs in/requires a battery and/or charger and is not made of paper.

3.) Pick up a book. (You've seen these before. Typically, they're expensive, sometimes heavy and you hold them at the beginning and end of the semester when they are exchanged for money. They can also be found for free at a place called a library. Some Americans even have them around in their homes. Although rumors abound about these so called "books," don't be afraid. They are not fear biters. The worst you can expect from handling a book for any length of time is a paper cut, and even then, that's only in extreme cases of very sharp new paper.)

4.) Read.

5.) Repeat.

6.) Astonish and amaze your friends and family with your intelligent and interesting contributions to their conversations.

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Last hope for sanity

The purpose of this blog is to prevent me from doing one of the following:
1.) Killing myself
2.) Killing my students
3.) Tearing out my hair while shrieking, "Oh, the humanity!"
4.) Quitting school
5.) Quitting my job
6.) Quitting my life
7.) Beating up people who use the words "its" and "it's" interchangeably.

I have been teaching at a large, public Midwestern research university for nearly two years now. I quit my real Corporate job (complete with real corporate paycheck, medical benefits and glorious 401K) to pursue my PhD and teach undergraduates. I thought I was leaving the rat race to join something better. Higher learning, the ivory tower, making the world a better place. Blah, blah, blah. Oh - and did I mention I decided of my own free will that my subject of choice would be human sexuality? What could be more interesting?

Two years (okay, barely one and a half, but it feels like two) later, and I have realized:

  • I am not teaching college. I am teaching junior high.
  • Writing is a lost art.
  • Manners - no longer considered necessary in society.
  • I am prissy, out of touch with reality and OLD at the age of 35.
  • The questions students ask me about sex do not shock me (although their ignorance saddens me.) The questions students ask me about their grades, their abilities, and their assignments shock me.
  • Did I mention I am OLD at the age of 35? When a student saunters up to me (the last week of the semester) and, instead of saying, "Excuse me, professor so-and-so," but "Yo, teacher lady," and I am appalled, this makes me old.
  • Everything that a student experiences is somehow my fault (as the instructor). Student fails the final? My fault for not giving him the study guide 3 weeks in advance. Student gets crappy grade on paper because it is so poorly written it is nonsense? My fault for grading paper like it's an English class, which it's not. Student is traumatized and offended because we discuss homosexuality during our work with Chapter 10: Sexual Orientation? My fault. Student misses quiz because she broke up with boyfriend and couldn't attend class because class reminded her of boyfriend? My fault. Student gets in trouble for plagiarism because he copied article instead of writing his own paper? My fault because I was not quite clear on what I meant by "your own opinion."

I hope that this little vent-o-blog will help me spare my family and friends my outrage and angst, and perhaps bring some laughter to other bloggers and lurkers of the world. Because, if I can't laugh at this stuff, well, . . . see numbered list above.