Saturday, May 22, 2010


A couple of days ago, I made the mistake (again) of looking myself up on a professor rating site (you know the one). And I found this new comment:

"So, I am not a chauvinist in any way, but having spent an entire semester listening to the arguments of a militant feminist (who, by her own admission, wants to "control and repress" her husband) has put a small damper on my ability to see eye to eye with the general feminist movement. *sigh* I wish I was joking about this, too."

I was surprised when I first read this, and then I became alarmed--not by the claim that I am a militant feminist, but rather by the fact that I had clearly had not done a very good job of teaching this student to understand irony. I mean, Dude (or Dudette)! Seriously? You took me seriously? Of course, I don't want to control my husband. Yes, from time to time I do attempt to micromanage him, but I'm not asserting general control. And repressing him? Bah! Hardly.

Anyhoo, the day after I read this, a student from the same class came up to me, shook my hand, and said something like, "I just want to tell you that I really enjoyed this class. A lot of my female teachers have been feminazis, so this class was really refreshing."

Hmmm. How am I to interpret these drastically different readings of the same course (which was a Brit Lit survey)? I'd like to think that these two opposite reactions suggest that I've found a good balance, but I don't think that would be an accurate assessment. Somehow, both comments leave me feeling unsettled.


loveskidlit said...

GEW. First, don't *ever* look yourself up on those sites. Anything that suggests "hotness ratings" as a legitimate form of professor eval is beneath your notice.

Second, most of my students, and I suspect many of yours, begin with "I'm not a feminist, but..." so they need more than a semester with any one person to achieve enlightenment. I don't get 100% success rate on quiz definitions of the sublime, or Kurtz's last words! Argh.

I feel your pain, and feel for your poor, controlled, emasculated hubby as well. (Irony)

ConstituentOther said...

I agree with loveskitlit. I've refrained myself from looking up myself up on those site. I taught two same class this and last semesters, though in my opinion, they were drastically different in terms of the degree of student participating and the quality of their learning.

Previously, I gave a lot of lectures, never really got to know my students, and found myself babbling all semester. I was not happy about my class in the end of the semester.
This semester, i encouraged students to participate, we had a lot of discussion, and student take most control of the atmosphere of the class.

To my surprise, my review of this semester is much worse than the last one--completely opposite to my subjective experience. Ironic, right?

Anonymous said...

AHAHAHAHAH! I love it. Like the play on words too. One year, I had evals that went like this:
1) she flirts with the guys in the front row
2) she hates men (including me)
3) lesbian for sure
4) dyke!
5) she gives better grades to the girls
6) she needs to learn to ignore the guys who want answers during the tests
7) she's cute

It was practically a drinking game.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

See, I wish that I were on those rate your prof sites, but I never show up. It's like they don't even care about rating me! Evaluate me! Somebody evaluate me!

Yeah, I need to get out of academia while I still can, eh? :)

Gaga said...

A peek into human nature.....and intelligence. Some folks just don't get it no matter what you do. Disconcerting. Always shocking.

The Joyous Scholar said...

I'd go with your interpretation that you have found the golden mean. And what praise for those in the teaching world to actually exercise in practical experience the ideas we philosophise about, *happy face*.
Where I teach, we have a different kind of forum with student evals, but when I realised just what drivel it was, I stopped reading it. We know who drivels, not a whole lot to learn there. One has to have a tough skin when one teaches especially the - oh the irony - sensitive subjects that one teaches and must be sensitive to, and this is tricky, especially when it can happen that an entire class seems to have low wattage on the idiomatic scale of such things. Er, I have not yet learned this well, but hope to.
I have so enjoyed and related to your posts on several occasions, so for what it's worth, you have my vote for greatness. As someone once said, keep on keeping on!

Anonymous said...

I agree about the golden mean, too.

It's strange to recognize that we're up there doing ONE thing and the responses can vary so widely. But it just goes to show how much of evaluations depend upon student mindset.

Good Enough Woman said...

LKL, You're right, you're right, I know you're right. (Can you name that movie?) And as for your students not knowing Kurtz's last words, "The horror! The horror!"

CO, Thanks for reading and commenting! And you are so right about the way that our subjective experience can be so out of line with student response. Sometimes it all seems like such a guessing game.

JC, the rules: Drink once for all lesbian-like comments and monikers. Drink twice for every time someone says she plays favorites with the boys. (I'll be playing with gin and tonics, thank you.)

Fie, Maybe it's because students at your warm fuzzy school are above such sites?

Gaga, So true. Some people really don't get it and probably never will. Although I keep thinking that the "militant feminist commenter" will someday meet a feminist who is truly militant, and he/she will go, "Oh!"

Joyous, Thank you so much for your vote of greatness! I'm glad you have you on board the Good Enough train. And, about those low wattage classes: I know! Isn't it weird that a whole class can be collectively lame when another class is collectively awesome? How does that happen? I've never understood it. But I have wondered if class time and the actual class *room* can make a difference.

--ginger. said...

Yes! It's TOTALLY. A. DRINKING. GAME. That's it.

I've stopped looking. It was all just too upsetting. Now I use it as an anti-source for my credibility. Like: "Go ahead--look it up on the ratings--I'm a cocky, dry-humoured, left-wing bitch." (To which my husband replied after I first read that and was reeling with shock: "honey--you're not dry-humoured. . . "