Hi! Let me offend you!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It is no greatly kept secret that I can offend nearly anyone upon meeting them.

Now, I wouldn't say that I TRY to do this...




I had hoped that as I left the world of state political machinations and rose into the world of academia that I would find people who finally "got" me. Having felt, at times, wildly out of place in the world of early childhood using my fancy words like "curriculum" and "developmental theorists" I hoped that I would get to a place where my way of talking...of THINKING was understood implicitly.

Add in my innate dislike of most of humanity and - really, it is a wonder that I attracted a mate or have acquired the skills necessary to keep any type of job outside of "distraught loner".

Now, I first had an inkling into this side of my personality when I was in 7th grade and was completely thrown out by my peer group. True, some of the problem was them. I am sure they are very happy at their barely minimum wage jobs today, living in their re-possessed trailers.

It took me a little while to figure out that I had been dumped. Like the day I realized that no one was coming to my birthday sleep over. I still assumed that people were just delayed a bit. You know - life? Gets crazy for 7th graders. Hard to be on time with all those pressing mall commitments.

The pattern has continued. I keep hoping that the next venue - the next horizon will be one that Understands me. I climb up the career ladder thinking "The next stop will be filled with people who speak and think like me".

Um. Nope. Still hasn't happened. I am in academia and I am suspicious that I remain the smartest chick in the group - the biggest fish in the pond. I speak to people who should be colleagues and often wonder if they know what the hell I am talking about, cause they don't look like they do. I find, to my incredible frustration, that I do not find the level of academic rigor that I wished for in the minds of these fellow students and academics - that they have grown stale and set in their ways. I worry that this will happen to me at some point. Will I become convinced that I know everything there is to know about Young children?

My filter - the one which is barely present at the best of times, has started to slip badly again. I did it tonight in a class in which I am a TA. The Instructor made a statement - a statement which was not correct. Not based on research or general professional consensus. Simply not correct.

And without thinking, my head snapped up and I said "No, I don't think that's true!"

This, my friends, is NOT the way to endear yourself to an Instructor.

And this is where I have found myself - doing this very thing in the classes in which I am the TA this term. Trying to stuff down my opinions until they bubble up and out like an unstoppable geyser. Only to be blocked and frozen out - my voice stifled and silenced. Being paid 23 dollars an hour to take attendance and sit in the corner of the room.

So I offend. I talk back and say things to students, even as these instructors try to chase me down to hush me up. And why? Because the Students deserve more and more than them - their future students deserve more. I just have to figure out how to slip them the benefit of my voice without getting canned in my Department.

6 Baleful Regards:

SUEB0B said...

Your true calling is as a blogger. Or maybe a journalist.

Anonymous said...

Eh, they're just scared. Because they know you're right.

Mitzi Green said...

sorry, darling, you will never find that perfect niche where you are understood and recognized for your greatness. unless you come back to the states and hang out with me, where we can drink ourselves ridiculous and revel in our superiority...

Anonymous said...

When I was in grad school taking a class called "Child & Family Policy" with a professor who apparently believed that only two-parent, heterosexual, white, middle-class groupings of people counted as families, I had a TA a lot like you. And God bless him.

Trust. There are students out there who need you.

Justin said...

I've found the poeple to whom I can say "no, you're wrong" are exceedingly few. An instructor to whom you're TA to seems unlikely to be one of those people. I've found that often a question or simply bringing up another point of view can work better. Most people don't like to be told their wrong, often more when they are.
I know that this can be compounded by sexism, racism, ageism, or classism and that's really annoying. But being right doesn't matter if you don't get heard.
I know that the line between being confident and aggresive is much harder for women. I often wonder how much harder it would be for me if I was a woman rather than a gay man. I know that there's a certain respect I get simply for looking like a SWM. Although I think it only lasts till I start talking.

Jaelithe said...

Oh! I once corrected a particular instructor twice in one day when I was an undergrad! In the same class period. She was Not Pleased. Especially given I was, what, twenty, at the time? And she was a Ph.D in her fifties with years of teaching experience.

But I just couldn't help it! She was Wrong! And she was spreading her Wrongness! To young minds innocent in their ignorance!

(Homer spoke Ionic Greek, NOT Aeolic Greek, damn it. And the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is widely misunderstood to mean that language determines one's ability to perceive the world, but that's not what it actually said! Sapir and Whorf only meant to propose that the limitations of one's native language might affect one's perception of reality, not that those limitations determined one's ability to understand certain concepts. Sheesh!)

I think we should start our own university, Dawn. The University of Intellectual Snobs with Poor Coping Skills.

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