I’ve been thinking. It’s kinda been a weird week all round.
Thursday, it was my second EDCI 350 class, which is a techniques in teaching reading, and right after roll call the professor said it was time for “show and tell” because it’s something that she does every class. She wants to make it into one of those share-y feely everyone gets to know everyone else type of atmosphere. Which is good. This also means that she wants any problems to be discussed too. When we get to that, she asks if there’s any problems or concerns anyone would like to address.
This chick speaks up. She has her brother and her sister in the class with her and she attacks the professor for addressing the three of them in a different manner than everyone else. She’d merely been trying to get the three of them to work with someone other than their siblings for the little group activity we were doing that day, so that they could gain a larger perspective. (No one’s going to be working with their SIBLINGS in a new work situation, you can pretty much guarantee that, so why fight the idea?) She did say “you three, would you please choose someone nearby to speak to” or something to that effect. This chick accused her of lumping them together and ignoring their names. She started “first of all, my name’s blah, and this is blah and blah, not ‘you three’ and you violated our right to choose by assigning us groups when you let everyone else choose…” or something to that effect. She talked too fast and was so RUDE about it. You could feel the tension in the room skyrocket. Another girl raised her hand and said she had a concern, and very nicely pointed out that an attack on our professor hadn’t been necessary, whereas the issue was important and could have been addressed after class. Blah immediately said “well you’re rights weren’t violated so you don’t know what you’re talking about” and “it was perpetrated in public so it has to be addressed in public”.
EXCUSE me? I think the word violated was a little strong. I think that the poor professor didn’t quite know what had hit her. Those three students DECIDED to be in that class and sit together, so it shouldn’t have been a total surprise to them. (And then on top of that, or perhaps because of this confrontation they decided to be in a presentation group together BY THEMSELVES) I think any other set of siblings may not have been that defensive, just like another classmate suggested. She’d said that she probably wouldn’t have been offended because she could place herself in the professors shoes and see why she was making the distinction. Blah shot back that the professor still had no right to discriminate.
I think she must have felt that she was being picked on. I don’t think it helped matters that she and her siblings are darker skinned and perhaps she’d felt discrimination strongly in previous classroom situations because she was livid and looked as though she wasn’t about to let the issue drop, perhaps in an attempt to head off further “discrimination”. I don’t think the professor would have done it any different if they’d been purple, or her own siblings, she just wanted them to work with someone they didn’t know, like everyone else. Thank goodness the professor was good at defusing the situation. She chided Blah very gently for being confrontational and suggested a better way to address the matter. She used a lot of “I feel that..” phrases to take the accusatory tone out of things she said, which is something that this chick hadn’t had the courtesy to do. She apologised for not using their names and wrote the concerns addressed down so that she’d be sure to find ways to work with them. She made point of calling them by name for the rest of the class.
I was just so stunned. I mean, ok. She felt wronged, but attacking someone like that in front of a whole 40+ people is too much. There is such a thing as being TOO sensitive.
Almost pissed me off as much as those stupid people who sue companies because they are too stupid to realise that coffee is hot and when they burn themselves, they decide to lay blame on the company, not their own stupidity. Blah attacked the teacher because she was too sensitive about the way she was being addressed, not because the teacher was actively being discriminatory.