Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I had to make a hard decision today. I chose to drop my British Literature class. I'm not sure why, but rather than feel like I made a good decision I feel like I failed somehow. This is the first time I've ever dropped a class even though there were several in the past that I probably should have in order to protect my GPA. By dropping the class I insure that a low grade will not lower my already injured (2.54) GPA.

Part of the problem comes with the fact that, in order to drop the class, I had to get the professor to sign off on the form for me to drop. I've mentioned that I wasn't really in love with her as a professor (Okay, so, without ANY evidence whatsoever to support this, I called her a Dick Cheney-loving dominatrix... but not to her face!), but when she asked me my reason for dropping the class I actually felt bad for her! I didn't want to hurt her feelings for some reason. Now, understand that I had already planned out that I was going to just go ahead and tell her that I felt she was condescending and that if we were in the corporate world her teaching style would be equivalent to that of a micro-manager who picks at every little detail of his underlings tasks, and how I don't appreciate that level of specificity because it insults my intelligence and gives me the sense that my work and talent isn't being respected, and if she doesn't like how students write papers at this level she should just feel free to give them Ds or Fs rather than laying out every single point that she wants presented in a paper. Instead, I meekly commented that I wasn't enjoying British Literature as much as I had hoped I would, and that I just didn't think her teaching style meshed with how I like to work as a student. For her part, she politely recommended I take a literature course taught by a professor who by coincidence I've had before and is, according to her, "less structured" in his teaching style and looks at everything from a "communist" point of view! I have to admit, the professor in question DOES sort of look at things with a communist point of view, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing!

I've been trying to figure out why I backed down from telling the professor how I really felt about her. Some might say that I'm "maturing" or "becoming more sensitive to the feelings of others" in my old age, but I think that's a load of bullshit! I think it has something to do with the power differential between us. You see, in normal classroom situations (ones where I feel glad to be there) I am incredibly outspoken with a mix of insightful comments and wry sarcasm. In those environments, I feel as though I'm an equal (perhaps even occasionally superior) to the professor. It would be completely natural to let those professors know EXACTLY how I feel about them because I didn't hold anything back during standard class time. Unfortunately, I never felt at home in my Brit Lit professor's classroom. Rather, I would sit there quietly staring at her PowerPoint presentations, rarely making eye contact, trying to avoid being called on, absolutely never interjecting my own thoughts, and just trying to pretend that I wasn't there while still showing up enough not to go over my allotment of permissible absences. The assignments I did turn in all made As, but I just didn't want to be there. I didn't want to work for her. I didn't want to impress her. And I didn't want to connect with her as a human being.

I guess that's why I feel so bad about dropping her class. In that one brief minute that it took to get her to sign the form I was forced, for once, to consider that she was a person with feelings and a life outside of the classroom. Granted, by tomorrow (certainly by next week) she will likely have forgotten all about me as a student. And perhaps that's the way it should be. Because for her to remember me beyond next week would have meant that I had to make an impact. And to make an impact, at least in that moment, would have meant that I had to be rude and insensitive and try to take away, for a time however brief, another person's sense of self-esteem. In doing so, ultimately, I would have gained nothing but a fleeting sense of ego-inflation. I can get that somewhere else.

By the way, I got my first test grades back from all my other classes and I made an A (90) in Philosophy, a B (88) in Environmental Geology, and a C (76) in Human Development, though Dr. Mike will drop our lowest test grade and I expect to make an A on my paper in the class so I'm still in okay shape there, for now.

Have fun, and keep living life... or some approximation thereof.

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