Five Conversations About Education I Would Rather Eat Glass Than Continue Having

A pile of broken glass. It is green and appears to have been sourced from a smashed bottle.
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One. Laptop / phone / technology bans. This conversation happens on Twitter a minimum of three times a year and every single iteration goes exactly the same way. Someone says they want to ban laptops in their class because, I don’t know, attention. Someone else (rightly) says, hm, seems ableist. Then the first person says, no no I allow it for disabled students. Then someone else says, forcing people to disclose their disability status is ableist. Everyone goes around the same handful of points and no one’s mind is ever changed. The fact is that the people calling it ableist are right, so please everyone stop talking.

Two. Kids these days are [fill in the blank here]. No they aren’t, you just got old, and if we’re lucky that’s what happens to the best of us. It would be nice if people tasked with educating the next generation didn’t fall into the same thought-terminating clichés as the last generation of garbage teachers adopted, but here we are.

Three. I don’t have time to teach [writing, grammar, study skills, etc]; my content is very important. If you evaluate for it, you have to teach it. That’s the rule. Otherwise, your course becomes an opaque mess of a game of “guess what’s in the professor’s head” and that’s not actually learning. Stop it. Oh, and when you outsource this work to your colleagues, recognize the specific skillset you are tapping into and stop treating so-called service departments like they are departments filled with your own literal servants.

Four. Accommodations are a workload issue / impinge on my academic freedom. I have empathy for the former — institutions download work onto those least able to resist, it’s true, and I don’t know of a single Accessibility Services office that would say, “Hey, we have enough money to do everything we need to do.” But access is a value and a commitment, and often by the time we get to the point of accommodations, there are changes in practice that would benefit the whole classroom (and, often, the instructor). The idea that accommodations are an academic freedom issue is a load of horseshit.

Five. Ranting about my students is a necessary catharsis. That’s an argument for talking about your rough day with your close friend or spouse, not for your anonymous social media account with 15.7M followers where you post excerpts of student writing, you absolute soggy Rice Krispie of a person. Students are humans who you should treat with respect. Why is that controversial.

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