Indistinct Mumblings of an Unsound Mind

First, let me start by saying that I have adhered to all the requirements of this assignment. Don’t believe me? Check the syllabus. Then read the requirements for Invention One and Essay One. Why? Because Invention One is supposed to lead up to Essay One.  I followed it, basically out of the textbook, using my own memory.

This is what I submitted:

L***’s Invention 1

Shaping the Story:  I had woke up with a horrible itch in my nose. Tried to blow it out. Couldn’t. Tried to fish it out with my finger. Couldn’t. Tried a different finger. Success!

Reflecting on the event’s autobiographical significance:

Recalling your remembered feelings and thoughts: At the time, I was very convinced that eliminating that itch was the single most important thing there ever was. I went after it with a raw tenacity reserved for war, politics, and religion. All I could think of was the moment, and how to finish it. It was all-encompassing.

Exploring your present perspective:

With this story, I can demonstrate the hilarity that we call life. Every moment to us seems vastly important, and in our self-importance we often forget to look at things from an outside perspective. I’m not just remembering something I did here, but painting myself in a more humorous light and  relating something that everyone has done back to them from an outside view that will provide some insight on how we see things at the moment of their occurrence versus the clarity of hindsight.

And my resulting grade? 7/10 with the following response:

DM,

Thanks for posting your invention notes for the first paper. Unfortunately, the event you’ve chosen to write about does not appear to have good possibilities for a successful remembered event essay. Try to think of a more significant event for your rough draft.

Grade for Invention One: 7/10

Sam

So, I am confused, at best. The instructions do not say pick a significant event. I have picked a significant event, at least it was to me, for reasons that I get into in the rough draft and will hash out in the drafts thereafter. But the point is, I complied with the exact requirements for the class. So we wrote back and forth:

Professor M*******,

I am more than happy to choose another subject, although I disagree, and have invested a good amount of time in this particular memory already. Before I go back and re-complete this assignment, I would like to know how it does not fit the descriptions for either the Invention One or the Essay One assignments. 

If you could please outline the academic reasons why I am receiving a 7 of 10, it would be greatly appreciated, and will serve to assist me in meeting your particular classroom requirements. 

Thank you,
-DM

P.S.: Also, for reference, I have attached copies of the above listed requirements, copy + pasted as RTF documents. Some formatting was lost, but all content is there. Thank you, again.

DM,

As I said before, the event does not appear to be significant. Please review the assigned pages in the Guide to Writing for appropriate suggestions for subjects. Also, you might want to read responses to the assignment that your classmates have posted on the discussion board.

Thanks,
Sam

Professor M*******,

The requirements do not state that it has to be significant. I have reviewed the subject. I did read the responses by my peers, and their writing is formulaic and dull. Also, this event is important to me, personally, because it is when I decided to pursue a more enjoyable path in life, discovering that there is happiness in all things, and recovering the amazement and wonderment of youth.

As such, I will ask again: Please list the academic reasons for your scoring of my work, and not a personal opinion, or better define the word significant as it pertains to you and your classroom.

I truly appreciate your feedback, but you have not given me a solid, finite reason to re-write this assignment, or to chose a different subject, other than you do not think it to be significant enough; which was not part of the listed requirements to begin with.

-DM

DM,

If you wish to write to about that event, that is up to you. As the instructor for the class, I can only tell you that the subject does not appear to have significance.

But the choice is yours.

Thanks,
Sam

Professor M*******,

Thanks again for your response, but you did not actually reply to my inquisition.

What is the academic reason for grading me at a 7 of 10. I fulfilled all the criteria for the assignment, as listed.

Please answer this, as it pertains to my grades. 

Thank you,
-DM

Although I am ashamed of my phone’s auto-correct from inquiry to inquisition, the point is still made, right? We were sending messages back and forth, and then he just stopped. My significant other has pointed out to me that he may just be unused to people questioning him and lashing out to assert his authority. After my experience with the last professor that sent me an “A” on a paper with intentional mistakes (AKA: She didn’t actually grade the paper), I am beginning to wonder what, exactly, Mesa Community College is teaching in their English classes. Certainly there is some level of standard for the internet classes?

Update – August 25th, 2012

The professor did not respond within a 24 hour time-frame. As I need to continue on my work, I pressed him for an answer. As well, I included the thoughts and feelings of my caretaker.

Professor M********,

Again, I implore of you to explain the academic reasoning behind your grading. Without a valid explanation, I cannot attempt a re-write, even if I wanted to. The work turned in, by my opinion, had no errors contained within it. It was within the scope defined in the Guide to Writing chapter, on page 40, and covered all the information that you so diligently laid out in your syllabus and the assignment criteria. I would most likely be making the same mistakes again without an itemized list of mistakes that were made.

My caretaker has pointed out to me that this all may be a result of you, as a person, being uncomfortable with people challenging or questioning you and that it may, from your viewpoint, reflect a lack of respect for your own perceived authority. It was also pointed out that you may have a problem with things being different that the accepted norm; that is: not formulaic, given how you mentioned to reflect on the initial writing of my peers. She stated that this sort of difference might bother you because it is not something you deal with on a regular basis and, more importantly, it is not easy to grade.

Both of these reasons, I’m sure, are not correct. I would presume that she is wrong, as that would be highly unprofessional, and not befitting a teacher at a community college, least of all one as tenured as yourself. Whatever the reasons are, I do need to know the specifics so that I, if I choose to do so, can re-write and turn in the work to comply with your standards.

So, in advance of your response containing the academic reasons that the work was graded at a 7 of 10, I extend my thanks.

Sincerely,
-DM

DM,

I have explained that I believe that the subject that you have chosen to write about is not appropriate for the assignment. I think that a careful reading of the assigned pages in the textbook would make this clear. This is my final comment regarding this issue.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please take it up with the chair of my department. His name is Jeffrey A******* (jeffrey.a*******@mesacc.edu or 480-461-****).

Thanks,
Sam

I must admit, I am irritated. Appropriate? Appropriate?!? First it’s one thing, then it’s another. I’m so tired of seeing people in positions of power trying to backpedal and cover their metaphorical derrieres. He has no academical basis for grading my work as such, so is defaulting to appropriateness. The English department at this school is driving me more insane than I already am.

Mike has said something that really nails it home: “You have to remember that public education is designed for the ‘average’ student. Jumping through hoops is as much a part of higher education as the classes are. Maybe more so.”

Below is my response, and it has been carbon copied to his department chair.

Professor M*******,

Throughout our correspondence you have said that the work “..does not appear to have good possibilities..” and that it “..does not appear to be significant..” Now, in your final comment you seem to have amended it to reflect that the subject is not appropriate. Mentioning that you didn’t find the subject appropriate at the beginning of our conversation, instead of the end, would have changed the entire way in which it flowed. I already had a second, pre-typed submission in case that was the scenario. You can read it here: Invention One Re-Write. I’m not sure if you want me to re-submit it on the main discussion page, or if you need me to print it up and carry it to your office. Either way, please let me know.

On the other hand, I cannot begin to fathom where, in the realm of educational English, personal opinion and appearances would be given the same weight as completing the assignment according to the criteria given. That is the one thing about English that I love: You can both despise the content and admire the writing at the same time. You don’t have to agree with something for it to be proper English. If there was additional criteria that needed to be met, it would fall on you, the professor, to make it known to me, the student; especially when considered that I had actually asked you, on numerous occasions, what academic basis you had for your subjective grading. 

The main issue I have here is that clear communication is not occurring. I am asking you questions, and you are not taking the time to answer. Simply telling me to re-read something I’ve already read, numerous times, does not clarify what you expect in your classroom. And when, upon being asked for clarification, you repeat the same thing, sounding like a scripted line in a telemarketer’s scheme, that tells me that you simply don’t want to invest the time in a real answer, and would rather push off your job – teaching – on the person that is paying you to teach them.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve dealt with a person who seemed more eager to take the easy way out than to actually do work. I also know that it won’t be the last time a person in a position of authority willingly neglects their responsibilities with the belief that there will be little to no repercussions. For that matter, it probably isn’t even going to be the last time you behave in this manner.

As you are the second professor in the English department I’ve experienced this lackadaisical approach to teaching with, I am vastly disappointed. I came to school to learn. I pay your institution to instruct me. There have been few, if any, issues with all of the other departments in whose classes I’ve enrolled. I am one of the few people in college because I love to learn, not because I need a degree. That you are the second person in your department to act in this manner sets a sad standard, and were it not necessary for me to take this class, I would happily withdraw.

For now, enjoy knowing that you have job security because your class is required. But also know that you have tainted my learning experience. You, personally, have left a bad taste in my mouth, destroying the educational environment that I love more than life itself, and I will make sure that everyone and everything I come into contact with knows and understands how reprehensible and unprofessional you have behaved. 

This email has been CC’d to your department chair. I’m sure you have already briefed him on the matter. It has also been added to my cognitive aid’s database. Click here to view the entire conversation. 

I’m taking this one last time to point out that there is no academic basis for your grading, and when confronted about this your idea of a response was to direct my attention to the book. When asked for clarification you made two statements based on opinion, and when it was illustrated to you that opinion is not a valid basis for academic standards, you cited that the writing was inappropriate. All of this, without ever actually telling me what, exactly, this work is missing or how it does not meet the standards you laid out in your syllabus and the article criteria (Have you ever considered a career in politics?).

I do hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. I still need to know how you would like me to submit the re-written Invention One material.

Thank you,
-DM

What more can be said? It’s in the chair’s hands now. You know what I expect to happen? A request to take down this post, and them to find a reason to withdraw me from the class or to expel me. I suppose that’s the price one pays for actually asking educators to do their jobs, and wanting to learn instead of just wanting a degree.
Update – August 26th, 2012
Apparently there is a lot more that can be said. Professor M******* has responded again. Note the typo: He must have taken a lot of time and effort in reading and responding this time. /sarcasm

DM,

Sorry, but I fail to see how picking your nose could be s significant event. However, if that is how you wish to spend your time responding to the assignment, that is your choice.
The grade remains 7/10. If you have a problem with the grade, please contact the chair of my department.

Thanks,

Sam

Oh Professor M******* – there are so many issues with your response I almost choked on my coffee. Fortunately, I am experienced with people of your particular mindset and misgivings. Perhaps another letter, in a more clear and concise outline will help you to answer my questions? Doubtful, but I’m willing to try.

Professor M*******,

From your last response, it has become entirely too obvious that you did not actually read the correspondence sent to you, but instead chose to do a quick overview. Between the quick dismissal, repetition of inaction, and the uncorrected typo, it is plain to see exactly how much effort and investment you make in your student’s inquiries.

Had you read the correspondence, you would know the following:

1.) Choosing a life similar to Buddhism definitely describes something important or significant, but you would know that had you actually read the information submitted. See the quotation below:

“Also, this event is important to me, personally, because it is when I decided to pursue a more enjoyable path in life, discovering that there is happiness in all things, and recovering the amazement and wonderment of youth.”

2.) You are failing to acknowledge that you have no academic basis for your grading.

3.) There are links to a rough draft and a different re-write that you ignore.

4.) You did not address the question of how to submit said re-write.

5.) I did send this whole scenario to your chair. I even went so far as to notify you of doing so, which again: you would know had you invested the time and effort to read what was sent to you. It wasn’t even a blind carbon copy, so you should have been able to see this by just reading the header. Since you obviously don’t read the header, I’m putting it in the contents as well: please note, this email and your preceding response have both been carbon copied to your Chair as well.

6.) A one-sentence summary often falls short of the actual content. For example, think on what would be said, were I to summarize my interactions with you in one highly over-simplified, yet entirely accurate portrayal of your actions thus far. Don’t worry – I’m not going to rise to your baiting.

But most importantly, Professor: the more you respond, the bigger a hole you dig. Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away, and your lack of response to the actual concerns is like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. Trying to direct attention away from those matters doesn’t resolve them either; and I would hope, by now, that you understand I am not the type of person to appeal to your apparent authority-related insecurities and try to appease you.

If you choose to respond, please do so with the grace and dignity befitting your title, and address the concerns listed above. For example, you might list your academic rubric and how the work fell short, instead of your personal opinion. I honestly don’t care about your opinion. I’m here to learn English standards as they are taught across the nation, not your personal preference for subject matter.

Professor Martinez, please bother to read this before you respond. I would highly suggest reading the previous correspondence and following the links to read their content as well, before saying anything else. I grow tired of repeating myself, and I tend to follow the thoughts of the church I grew up in.

“If another sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the community. Then if he or she won’t accept the community’s decision, treat that person as a corrupt tax collector.” – Matthew 18:15-17

Having already tried this with you on a personal level, I have brought it to your chair. If there is no response based in academia from your department chair, the next step is to take it to the community.

I’m not asking for an apology for your unprofessional behavior, I’m simply asking you to answer a few questions, from student to teacher. This isn’t a class on Confucian philosophy, is it? Why then, do you leave me to try and discern an answer from your failure and personal beliefs?

-DM

I admit, I am so disgusted with this particular professor that quitting school entirely is becoming a more attractive thought than staying and dealing with crap like this. I thought that I would be dealing with adults in a learning environment, not children in positions of authority. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what the Chair has to say, but being that this is an work environment and he’s been in position for quite awhile, I’m going to hazard that he’ll have the undying support of his Chair.

There’s nothing as gratifying as preemptive disappointment. At least by calling him out on not reading it, he’ll realize he doesn’t have to backpedal and admit fault, but just lie and say he didn’t read it. (StatComm says he did. Easy as comparing the IP address on the email headers to the IP address logged on my statistics.)

Final Update

And, much to my disappointment, he has still not answered my questions. Instead he has chosen to claim misunderstanding and that he didn’t see the link. Blatant lie, but far be it from me to tell him. I’ve found that people who are dishonest with others are generally dishonest with themselves.

My caretaker’s thoughts are that he backpedaled because his Chair logged in, read the emails, and told him to cut the crap. I’m of the same opinion. I gave him an out (telling him he didn’t read it) and he took it. I hate liars, and I now know what kind of person I am dealing with.

Sadly, I doubt I will be learning anything new from this class: I learned long ago how to deal with people whose self-importance is far grander than their abilities and job functions. Here’s his final response, in which you can watch him throw his faults on the scapegoat as it wanders out to the desert.

DM,

Sorry for the misunderstanding. The notes that you sent me through email are more in keeping with the assignment and reflect an appropriate response to the Invention One activities (although the gray on black print is difficult to read). However, for the rough draft that you will post on the discussion board, I will have to ask you to refrain from going into explicit detail about the sexual encounter. (You may send me an alternate rough draft through email if you wish.)

So, since the subject is more in keeping with the assignment, I will change the grade to 10/10.

Again, I apologize for not seeing the link to the draft in your previous message.

Sam

Now I get to go through a whole new issue with him: What is explicit detail with regards to a sexual encounter?
(See Re-write of Invention Material here)

Categories: English

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