Thursday, June 02, 2005

the solemn promise

Today and tomorrow, the student evaluations roll in. First they go to the main office so that my bosses can fret about my performance. Then they come to me. I'm not sure whether I can keep my evals or not. At the very least, I'm allowed to look at them. If I can keep them, I promise to blog the results. If I can't, I'll make photocopies and blog the results, anyway-- the good and the bad, all of it.

I remember thinking that one of my profs at CUA (I won't say which one, but I'm sure he knows who he is) was absolutely shitty. A shame, since all my other profs were, in my opinion, top-notch. The man had no notion of how to present ideas in the classroom, especially for idiots like me who knew next to nothing about fancy-ass terms like "hermeneutics" and "onto-theology." Other students praised his laid-back style: he often simply let the class take over. This was interpreted by his fans as "giving the class a free rein in discussion."

While I do see the virtue in that, the problem was this: he obviously had a bias, and wanted everyone on pretty much the same page. One thing you never did in his class was fuck with the late, great Bernard Lonergan. I performed an experiment to see whether my perception of the teacher was correct. I wrote one paper in which I trashed Lonergan from an East Asian metaphysical perspective, and another, more conciliatory paper that conceded Lonergan had made some good points. I got a B on the first and an A on the second. From my perspective, there was little difference in quality and preparation between the papers I had written*.

I took two courses with this prof, and ended up agreeing with the other students that he was a wonderful human being-- approachable, affable, all the rest. But I couldn't shake the impression that he was a shitty teacher who didn't bother planning his lessons.

At the end of the first course, I found myself thoroughly pissed at the man. When it was time to write the evaluation, I sat there after my final exam writing an entire essay on how bad this guy was. I really let him have it, pouring out all my anger onto the page in the hopes that someone in the main office might take note.

At the end of all that, I was supposed to take my evaluation and put it in the big brown envelope with the rest of the student evaluations. I got up and started toward the desk where the envelope lay... then something occurred to me and, instead of turning in my eval form, I folded it up and walked out the door.

Then I dropped the form into the nearest trash can.

Felt good.

Perhaps the prof received a bad evaluation from a different student and thought it was from me. I'll never know. Neither will that prof.

I wonder whether my current crop of students will do the same for me if it turns out they hated my class. Hmm. We'll see. Overall, I'm not worried about my evals: I expect a few complaints, but I know where they'll come from and how seriously to take the students who will have made them.

In any case, check back in a few days for results. I'm expecting a good chuckle.

*Full disclosure: when I got that B on the first paper, my initial intention wasn't to perform an experiment, but to try and salvage my grade. Thus began the evil chain of thought that led to the brilliant idea that I should kiss Lonergan's ass and see what would happen while at the same time potentially salvaging my grade. Luckily, I was right: kissing Lonergan's ass got you points.


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