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.

Monday, April 02, 2007

April Fool! Alas, No

I, too, was duped by the folks at RYS. And honestly, I didn't even notice the date on the calendar. (That alone says something right there, although I'm not quite sure what it says.)

Maybe I have been holding out a bit on this blog. As Mr. J. puts it, since I started my program, I've had "one foot in and one foot out," never quite deciding whether this was going to be my life's work or not. In fact, after about my first week of grading student papers I had my first doubts about this career.

As the extremely wise Denever put it, "But then I realize that as I'm imagining what my daily life would be like, I am actually thinking about my own days in college." Another "Alas": Denever has no blog. That's a damn shame, if you ask me!

I wish I had come to that conclusion three years earlier, because she's exactly right. Now remember - I was far from the model undergraduate. Personally, I am amazed that no one ever grabbed me by the shoulders and yelled, "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life! Get it together, girl!" I did incredibly stupid things - none of which I will detail here because my mom sometimes reads this blog and since she and my dad paid for about 99.9% of undergrad . . . well, I don't want them to think that was a big, fat waste. Let me put it this way: I was in a sorority, all right? And it wasn't a professional or service one. To put it another way: I once skipped a class that only met once a week to practice for Greek Week opening ceremonies. So, if I expected undergrads to be exactly like me, I never would have been intrigued by this route in the first place. After all, who wants to be surrounded by clones of Bluto and Otter for all of her professional life?

Now I sound like an old bat, but seriously: I think e-mail and text messaging have been in many ways the best thing to happen to higher education since co-ed dormitories, but I also think they have been the worst thing.

And those two types of technology alone changed the college experience - at least from what I imagined it would be like - drastically. I never expected the poorly written, rude, bitchy and demanding e-mails I started receiving before the semester even started. After all, I had just come from Corporate America - people got FIRED for writing and sending e-mails like the ones I was getting.

I never expected text messaging to ruin any writing ability students' may have had and never expected I would be reading papers I could barely decipher because they read, "i think this speaker was cool. it was good for u 2 have a dr. come to our class."

Anyway, blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine.

Here is what I'm thinking of doing: Continuing to keep one foot in and one foot out. I truly believe in the importance of women's health issues and the necessity of comprehensive sex education. I still think the rate of unplanned pregnancy in this country is appalling (48% by latest Alan Guttmacher Institute data). But if I have to spend much of my time trying to determine whose excuse for missing an exam is legitimate and whose is complete bunk, I will go insane. (Yeah, I hear you peanut gallery - it won't be a very long trip.)

What if my other "corporate" work was my "job" so to speak - something I enjoy, something I think I'm fairly good at, but not necessarily my passion and my passion - sexual health - becomes my hobby? And not like a "I've scrapbooked twice in the last year even though I have hundreds of dollars worth of crap to cut every piece of paper ever made" hobby, but more a "we go out on the boat at least three times a week" kind of hobby?

I don't know why this didn't occur to me. After all, Mr. J. does it. His passion (bless his wee heart) is math. I know. I don't get it either. But he knew he could never teach college full-time for about a million and one reasons. He also claims he is in no way smart enough to get a Ph.D. in mathematical sciences (NOT mathematical education - as he often reminds me, there is a BIG difference!) so that ruled out that career option right there. But he teaches one or two undergrad calculus classes a year and it's enough for him. He gets to see that "aha!" moment when a student finally understands calculus, but he still gets to sit at the grown-ups table during the day.

So at this exact moment in time, on this day I am thinking I will do both. I will continue - very differently - and very slowly - with the doc, but with a "part-time" focus. My full-time job will be my corporate gig and also, digging us out from under the spectacle of disastrous proportions that is our "new" house. If it takes me three or four years to become "Dr. Teacher Lady", then so be it. That's the plan. For right now. Teaching will be my passion/hobby-which is good, considering I don't sew and I'm really bad at crafts. Stay tuned. Subject to change without notice.

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Blogger ProfessorDog said...

Sounds like a plan, Teacher Lady! As far as the student-excuse insanity goes--can you try just being a super-hardass? Tell them there are no excuses for exam days unless they have a note from their doctor saying that they were actually having open heart surgery at the time of the exam? If your administration doesn't like it, well, it's just a hobby, so they can like it or lump it.

(I gave an exam today, and had two show up 20 minutes late, and another two not show up at all. And my make-up policy is the open-heart surgey thing. Unfortunately, students may think I'm not serious, because I did give my first-ever makeup exam on the first midterm for this particular class. The student was indeed having heart surgery. We'll see what happens on Wednesday!)

April 02, 2007 11:02 PM  
Blogger Terminaldegree said...

You know what? This sounds like a fabulous plan (not that you need approval, of course). And I have a hunch that when it becomes something you do because you WANT to, now and then, you'll find yourself enjoying teaching a lot more. Good for you!

April 03, 2007 2:19 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Take your time and do it at your own pace. If it is what you want it will happen, otherwise it wasn't meant to be. No matter what we will all be waiting to see which path you choose and where that path leads you.

April 03, 2007 7:27 AM  
Blogger Kimmy753 said... is confirmed..we were seperated at birth. I too was in a sorority and I too was not the *perfect* undergrad much to my parents' chagrin. Well..I take that back..I got my act together around my junior year, but that was after MANY come to Jesus talks. I wonder if we were in the same sorority?! (email me at if you want to divulge).

Anyway..I like your plan. Probably because it is the exact same plan I am on. Full-time corporate chick, part-time doc wannabe and part-time instructor. I believe the term they use for that is Wonder Woman! :)

April 03, 2007 8:02 AM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

Sounds like it could be a very satisfying life. Sensible and hopeful at the same time.

April 03, 2007 8:27 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

Okay, this kind of takes off from a minor point in the middle of your post, but I think computers have made kids write worse, and email/texting has just exacerbated it. There were almost no computers when I was in college...there was a mainframe on which one could type papers and play Adventure. By the time I was in graduate school, there were more PCs around...I had one of the first Macs. As part of graduate school, I taught an undergraduate music class. About half of the students had computers - the rest had typewriters (mid 80s). I swear, the kids with typewriters wrote better papers. They took the time to think about what they were going to say, and how they were going to say it, and then committed it to paper. The kids with computers - feh. Just type type type, stream of consciousness, spell check, print the pretty thing and be done.

Good luck with your job/hobby plan, and with your house!

April 03, 2007 8:42 AM  
Blogger Denever said...

Could there be anything better than this - you discover a new blog, you love it so much that you take the way-back machine to January 2006 and work your way to the present, savoring each and every entry, you finally finish and check out the newest post, and what do you see? First: the words "extremely wise" in front of your name. Second: "Another 'Alas': Denever has no blog. That's a damn shame, if you ask me!"

I've been meaning to do something about birthin' a blog, but haven't gotten too far with it. If I had one, the title for today's entry would be easy to write: "Teacher Lady Made My Day!"

Now for the not-all-about-me portion of this comment: this is a brilliant solution, and I'm not just saying that because I've arranged my life in a similar way, with the day job over here and the vocation/passion over there. Each gives me a mini-vacation from the other, which greatly lessens the chance of burning out on either of them. "It's all about balance" is my mantra.

I'm with Professordog on strategy: try the super-hardass route, but maybe mix it up a little and become Super-Hardass with a Smile. Put on your most patient and understanding face when the whiny little fuckers ask for special consideration and say "No." Then say it again. And again.

Let nothing disturb your equanimity! Let no one turn you from the path of compassionate negativity. Do not go gentle into the swampy thickets of well-meaning acquiesence. Stand tall and hang tough, Teacher Lady, and keep us posted on every encounter.

April 03, 2007 12:31 PM  
Blogger What Now? said...

I think this is a fabulous plan. I've been asking myself similar questions, although in my case from the perspective of someone who's done the whole professor thing and wound up walking away. But I do love teaching, and I do love writing, and I can imagine having a "day job" and doing these other things on my own time, as it were, and imagining all of it so much more.

April 03, 2007 5:06 PM  
Blogger Fraulein N said...

I LOVE your solution. Great idea!

Also, "i think this speaker was cool. it was good for u 2 have a dr. come to our class." makes me laugh. And then cry, because I know you're probably not making it up.

April 03, 2007 6:35 PM  
Blogger Poor_Statue said...

Excellent solution!

And my passion is math, too. There's nothing wrong with that!

April 06, 2007 11:02 AM  

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