I’m trying to think of sensible, fair-minded things to say about this story (via Margaret Soltan) about a Dartmouth instructor who plans to sue her students for making discriminatory remarks about her pedagogy, but I’m coming up empty. (Here’s the latest news on the story from TheDartmouth.com.)
It’s true that students subconsciously react to the social identity of professors in different ways, sometimes in ways that are frustrating or unfair to the professor. That being said, I can’t think of any way to view this particular case with even the slightest sympathy, especially given the particulars of the emails the instructor sent and the substance of her complaints. This is really someone who needs to look for a different line of work.
How would you like to be the faculty member at Northwestern who hired her?
I haven’t read her work, but I thought the whole pomo-science stuff went out with Sokal and Bricmont?
In a time when a highly educated, exceptionally intelligent politician refers to his pastor having “married Michelle and I” [sic], is it really all that surprising that a writing instructor at Dartmouth uses “whom” incorrectly and apparently cannot write at all? (Incidentally, this is not intended as a jibe at Obama: bad grammar and mangled sentences are all over the airwaves; his gaffe is simply the most recent example I happen to recall.)
Actually, I wondered if the “married Michelle and I” thing wasn’t said on purpose to prove how unelitist he is…Obama is a very good writer and certainly seems like the kind of person who makes it a point to know his subject and object pronouns…
Ugh, the Dartmouth thing is a real triple threat–we get American litigiousness, the inanity of victim politics, and the grammatical and intellectual poverty of (some parts of) Higher Education These Days. I wince a little to think about how kids are killing themselves to get into schools like this, to be taught by professors like this. Swarthmore has its problems, but I feel fairly sure someone who writes (and thinks!) like this would not get a job there…Right?…
The thing I liked best was that she described discrimination laws as anti-Federal. I think there’s a whole class in critical legal theory to be spun out of that one.
I too don’t know what to say about the rest of it. It makes me sad. Some of my own colleagues have recently become aggrieved over the poor respect their students are showing their fab selves and proposed that we move institutionally toward a more disciplinary classroom regime. And I’ve said just about everything but “learn to teach” about this, eschewing that line only because I know it would be counterproductive.
I mean, that’s a kind of ’empowerment’, right? Putting the weight of the institution behind their will to make the students shut up. Just like those bad old white guy perfessers. We should be more reflective about our privileges and supportive of our comrades’ struggle for voice.