inspired by jill’s unfortunate run-in with an unhappy woman in a position of power & kate’s musings on academia.
i had a horrible prof in grad school whose abuse of power makes me know what kind of teacher i refuse to become.
he taught history and had a beef with me off the bat since i was from the journalism school. he had it in his head that we j school students were mere pragmatists, technicians, incapable of higher thought.
most of the material he asked us to read was drivel. the trendy postmodernist social constructionist tomes that are unlikely to still be in print in 20 years (or even 10 … when he and his buddies retire and stop putting them on the required reading lists). i resented having to give so many hours of my weeks to academic pulp nonfiction. but it was close to graduation and i was under the wire with elective credits. plus i had no better choices during the same time period. asshole or not, i needed the class.
so i amused myself by using each weekly reflection paper to rip apart the guy’s curriculum (and inscribed months of work and research), piece by piece, reading by reading. my animus was often irrational — this i submit. and his response was equally inappropriate: whenever i contributed and idea in class (a requirement for a passing grade), he had a barb, a comeback or another superior “perspective” ready to deflate it and smack me back down. a classmate once remarked to me as we left class: “man, he really has it out for you doesn’t he?” and he did.
i got further proof of this when he promptly shot down my idea for a research project. the only parameter he gave was that it had to do with “bodies on display in 19th century america.” i wanted to write about the ale house. where women were forbidden, except for whores, and men of different classes and ethnicities started mixing and beating the shit out of eachother. you know, like in far and away? he said no. it didn’t have enough to do with the body. an alehouse, where men go with the expressed purpose of altering their blood alcohol level whilst hobnobbing with other members of the public. meanwhile, his research assistant was permitted to do a project on “jazz.” bullshit.
anyway, i am haunted by the memory of that prof. i never want to be like that. what caliber of mind, what strength of heart contents itself with obsequious subordinates?