Saturday, November 9, 2013

When Professors (teachers) Cause Problems and They Don't Even Know It

No, not those type of problems. We are not having any inclusion issues or academic issues. In fact both boys are doing well in those regards this semester. The issue we are having has to do with curriculum actually and how it is presented. The problem is one of CM2's professors.

CM2 is taking an English literature course on American writers. He is reading such luminaries as Baldwin, Hemingway, Conrad, Wolf and now Philip Roth. And yes these authors are quite the challenge to read, discuss and analyze. They could make for some lively discussion if the children paid attention. And yes CM2 pays attention and adds in his two-cents now and again. But apparently he is about the only one. The para tells me that most of the kids just sit there. He doubts they are even doing the reading. Needlesstosay the professor is very frustrated with the class.

No, this is not my issue with the professor. He actually seems like a decent sort of fellow. Someone really interested in teaching the students how to think, analyze and write. My issue is his choice of language in lecture.

Yes, you read right. His choice of language. According to my sources (which is the para, CM2 would never tell either WoS or myself anything about school), every other word out of this man's mouth is either the "f" bomb or the "s" bomb, or the "b" bomb, or for a time period he was even using the "c" bomb. I kid you not. This is simply beyond provocative. This is head-shaking, "what the hell am I paying for" kind of parental reaction, especially since this is an English literature class.

Foolish me, I was under the impression that when studying literature by some of our nation's greatest writers, language and the proper use thereof, would be part and parcel of all avenues of the class, not just in the writing segment. This professor is hard as nails when it comes to writing. He is truly teaching the students how to write and what it takes to make yourself understood on paper. I honestly can't argue with this. Here, he is doing his job quite well.

But language is not simply how you write, but it is how you present yourself and how you speak to another person. Language is making yourself understood outside the realm of "colorful" language. The tone and tenor of your speech goes along way in making an impression about who you are and your level of intelligence. Moreover, because the professor swears in class, CM2 now thinks its find and dandy in his daily life as well.

We had been trying to teach CM2 not to swear when he tries to express himself. For many teens that is simply a natural outgrowth of culture, but it is not a proper way to function in society. Swearing in the workplace or at anytime when you want to be taken seriously is a big "no, no." In fact we had been making headway in that regards until this semester. Suddenly CM2's swear quotient had ratcheted itself up to new heights.

At first I thought it had only to do with his frustration and the anxiety that comes along with taking 5 classes and the added work level that made CM2 swear. He did flourish during the summer when he only took Spanish, so I figured that the swearing had to do with the number of courses he was taking. Added anxiety and all that rubbish. But nope, I don't think so now.

One day the para simply got in the car and he didn't say one single word. Finally he turned to me and said," that professor is just unbelievable. " He then began to regale me with the interesting and exciting discussions they are having in class. Now I knew why CM2 was swearing like a drunken sailor all the time.

I know CM2 is very impressionable. I know he looks up to his professors. The para tells me, CM2 is like a sponge. If the professors say it, he inhales it. So the idea that the professor can swear in class would mean that he can swear outside of class, and his old-foggey parents are wrong about life in general and  especially what is expected in proper conversation. In fact combine the swearing with the communications professor telling his class that the "older generation," meaning us, don't understand the younger generation and how they relate to the world, and you have CM2's present idea on use or non-use of language and ignoring the parental units instructions.

Meanwhile, the latest tale is that the professor being really annoyed that the students were not participating in class asked them if they like the class and was really upset that noone answered. CM2 being his aspergean self, said that it was "f-bomb" boring at times. Nope not kidding. The para said that the professors face went red and basically said if he didn't like it he could always leave. Luckily the para intervened and smoothed over the situation. Everything is fine now as far as we can tell.

But honestly what did the professor expect would happen if he consistently swears at the students. Didn't he think that they would eventually swear back? And didn't anyone tell him that aspies are notoriously honest? Why would CM2 think that a professor asking such a  question wouldn't want an honest answer? The para didn't really absolve CM2 of the notion that he shouldn't be honest, but we did mention that even if the professor swears he really shouldn't.

In the meantime, I haven't heard anymore stories about the professor swearing. Oh I am not certain that he has stopped. In fact I doubt he has. Apparently that is his teaching style. But I think he did stop using the "c" bomb. Apparently one girl finally raised her hand and said that she would like him to not use that word anymore.

"If anyone called me that, then we would definitely fight," she said.

Told the para, I can't blame her. Most women feel that way.

Now to fix the mess this has caused for CM2's use of spoken language.