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, July 18, 2006

I'm an Autistic Third Grader

Last week, our professor was sharp enough to bring in food the last day of class. End of semester course evaluations + food = tenure, I'm thinking. I may have to take a page out of that book someday.

I'm standing in the food line and fellow doc student behind me strikes up a conversation. Sometimes, I hate telling people what subject I teach. I need to come up with an alternate subject - a "teaching alias," if you will, for when I just don't want to get into it. Something boring that will make folks' eyes glaze over. I don't know, maybe "I teach the History of Accounting." But anyway, the fellow doc student handled the real answer pretty well. She replied, "Well, that must be a fun class to teach! How is summer session going for you?" I answered probably more than I should have - I was really just thinking out loud and I said, "I'm worried about my students. Half of them really tanked the midterm. Sometimes I think students take my class, expecting to get the world's easiest A. I'm guessing they think to themselves, 'Hey - I've had sex, so I know all there is to know. How hard can the class be?'" and fellow doc student laughed.

However. Another fellow doc student happened to be standing across from us and I guess I wasn't using my inside voice. She cleared her throat and said loudly enough for the whole room to hear (she definitely wasn't using her inside voice, but I think that was the point), "I work with autistic third graders and one of the things I have to practice with them are things that are appropriate to say in public and things that are not appropriate to say in public. And what you just said was a perfect example of something I would tell my autistic third graders is not appropriate to say in public."

Inappropriate? Moi? Not possible!

But seriously. Is there a polite, appropriate way to ask, "So when is your surgery scheduled? You know, the one where they remove the stick from your ass."

After the whole class took a shocked breath, followed by a nervous giggle, I said, "Well, I guess my perspective is a little different than the average person's. For example, I have no problem telling nosy people that the reason I don't have children is because my husband has an undescended testicle and my cervical mucus is hostile to his sperm." Class laughed heartily. Is it okay if I say, "One point, Teacher Lady," or did I just make the nearest autistic third grader look really socially savvy? Wait - no, don't care. One point, Teacher Lady.


Blogger Sue said...

I would love to have that lady sit in my office for one day, just one day.

Today's festivities included not only the description of one of my resident's current medical problems (a cancerous vaginal lesion, btw), but also a description of how she found it AND a drawing (from her doctor) of female parts showing where it is located, how big, etc. *shudder*

How's that for inappropriate, you cow? (Not you, the other doc student)

July 18, 2006 7:45 PM  
Anonymous dear wife said...

Seriously what is that woman's problem. I do not see what is inappropriate about what you said. I am impressed on your comeback. I am horrible at comebacks to irritating people.

July 18, 2006 8:18 PM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

And what you just said, ahem, WAS NOT DIRECTED TO HER ANYWAY! I also lack an indoor voice- and a censor, it happens when you write about pornography- but I HATE HATE HATE being overheard, and the overhear-er taking it as an invitation into the conversation.

Whatever, Sister Mary Stick-up-your-ass!

July 18, 2006 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Antique Mommy said...

Good gravy woman, you crack me up. I do not find your comment inappropriate given that you were in a social setting among peers. One should be able to relax in that environment. What I find incredibly inappropriate is that she, a peer, would "correct" you in that manner, like a 2 year old, when you weren't even speaking to her. Obviously she needs to be bitch slapped.

July 18, 2006 9:47 PM  
Blogger Vicki Culver said...

Love your site -- and this story! And I thought your comeback was priceless.

I, too, am a bit of a grammar snob. I'm sure I make a mistake here and there, but I have pretty damned good command of the English language.

Sadly, I saw your spelling of "mucus" and realized I had written it in one of my recent blogs as "mucous" so I went to and learned something. Turns out (and I'm sure you know this, given YOU'RE A TEACHER), "mucus" is the noun (you used it correctly) and "mucous" is an adjective (I didn't). Dammit. I hate being shown up by teachers.

July 18, 2006 10:11 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

I think you should have told Miss Prissy Pants that while your comment was certainly inappropriate for an autistic third grader, it was perfectly appropriate for you to say among adults, especially given the context. I also like the surgery question. It sounds like she needs to be bitch slapped into reality.

July 19, 2006 8:32 AM  
Blogger Fraulein N said...

Love that you had a comeback for her ass.

July 19, 2006 8:53 AM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

You handled an awkward situation with humor and aplomb. Well done.

Does all adult conversation have to share the standards of third grade autistic children? How incredibly dull.

July 19, 2006 10:39 AM  
Blogger happychyck said...

Nice way demonstrate what an inappropriate might actually be! I would have liked to have seen her expression! I can't believe you had such a wonderful comeback. That is talent. You go, girl!

July 19, 2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

There's an adjective "mucous"? I need a freakin' dictionary now, too!

I am a bit of shock over this story. I mean, for one - why did this lady think it was okay to say that to you? ESPECIALLY when what you said was in no way inappropriate! And then I'm in shock that you actually said the thing about the undescended testicle to her! YOU GO GIRL! I so wish I could've been there.

July 19, 2006 9:10 PM  
Anonymous Vic said...

that is brilliant.

July 20, 2006 12:02 AM  
Blogger wading through recovery said...

I just found your blog, and I have to say that it has been a loooooooooooong time since I last laughed my ass off alone in my room at 2 a.m. (without the benefit of alcohol)!

July 21, 2006 4:24 AM  
Blogger Lazy Lightning said...

LOL. It's inappropriate, in the company of other teachers, to discuss the subject you teach and your students' progress in the course? What EVER! Great response.

July 21, 2006 10:30 AM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Welcome, Wading! Maybe that will be my new motto: "Teacher Lady: Almost as much fun as drinking!"

July 21, 2006 12:15 PM  
Anonymous jane said...

Excellent! I might have said it like this:
"Thank you for sharing. As a fellow educator of students with special needs, I am also concerned with modeling socially appropriate behavior, which is why I would NEVER refer to my students as 'autistic third graders.' Surely a consummate professional, such as yourself, is aware of the current CEC standard urging 'person first' terminology when referring to all persons with disabilities. Thus, you should properly refer to your students as 'third graders with autism' just as I will properly speak of you as 'the woman with the stick up her ass.'"

July 24, 2006 5:29 PM  
Blogger desiree said...

I don't see anything innapropriate about your statement, and I am the prudiest prude in the universe. I love your response back. When you run into that freshman regarding psycology explain to her the meaning of "passive agressive" and use this as an example. Not just passive agressive but self agrandizing bitch because no-one asked her what she did for a job.

July 26, 2006 6:16 PM  

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