Tuesday, March 9, 2010


You know, I don't understand the psych teacher. We're talking about emotions. She discussed the fact that 'you wouldn't 'retaliate' against a seven foot tall person who calls you an obscene name, would you?' *blink* Really? I said that I don't understand her use of 'retaliate'. To my way of thinking, if someone calls you an obscene name, you would certainly say, "Excuse me, but that is certainly not appropriate, and you cannot speak to me like that." To me, that is assertive, and it is certainly something that you would do. She then made the statement that if the person were in a position of authority, you would not do this. *blink* Really? Yes. Yes, you would. Yes, you should. This would be a violation of the law. If my boss called me a vulgar name at work, I would speak to him/her about this on the spot. She came back with "If you did this in front of others, it would be demeaning to him." I said, "If he called me a vulgar name in front of others, the issue should absolutely be addressed in that very same setting. You're determining how you will be treated by the group." You not only have the right to stand up for yourself, you have an obligation to do so for the sake of the next poor schmuck the boss gets mad at. She claimed that I 'lost' her, that I was not making sense. To me, it is simple. You cannot allow yourself to be bullied. She doesn't understand it because she is, in my opinion, a bully. She likes to intimidate. For the second day in a row, she made the statement today that she can tell whether a person likes her or not by looking into our eyes. And she stood before us scanning the room. And then she laughed and said, "When people look down, you can tell they are trying to hide something." I probably shouldn't have, but I told her that this was an inappropriate conversation, that it did not matter whether I liked her, or whether she liked me. What mattered was that she was there to teach, and I was there to learn what she had to teach. Emotion should not play into it at all. It should not matter in the least. I probably should have kept it to myself, but I am getting increasingly frustrated with her.

I spoke with another teacher today. She could see no place for that sort of conversation in any class room. Two days in a row? She wondered if the teacher was trying to intimidate. I told her that, quite frankly, I'm convinced that this is indeed her purpose. We walked along as she considered it. After a previous discussion, she had done some subtle checking around, and she found that this teacher is a problem, the object of many student complaints. In fact, she's kind of notorious. She again urged me to discuss the situation with the department head. Good advice, probably, but it just seems that if I do, I'm throwing down a gauntlet. Wryly, I tell myself that I've thrown down the gauntlet anyway. I've disagreed with her in the classroom. I've been agonizing about whether I should have said anything at all, but sometimes she's so off base that it just bursts out of me. Anger is a problem for me. When I am angry about something, I always feel nervous and twitchy, as if I have no right to that emotion. Because I am frustrated (and angry) with this teacher, I am feeling ashamed of myself.

Oh. And she finally got the grades up. I'm getting an A in her class. Straight A student.

A straight A student sitting at her computer, having bitten off all her fingernails worrying about today's events.


WhiteStone said...

This is a psych class and you're getting on the job (er, in the class) experience. How cool is that! As for second guessing afterwards...it's always good to analyze afterwards in order to learn. I've learned a lot by kicking my own butt "after words", re-thinking, rephrasing in my head, etc., looking at how I could have said it better with better results for all around.

Mary O. Paddock said...

She would love these confrontations to become personal; don't let it happen. Should it come to it, her defense will be that you don't like her, not that she's a bad teacher.

She is used to younger students who will let her treat them anyway she wants. As many of them are fresh out of high school, they don't necessarily realize that she works for them. Wait until the end of the semester (after grades have been posted) to complain. You have the advantage here of being old enough for the head of the department to take seriously. The fact that you have an A in the class will go a long way toward validating your stand.

A Novel Woman said...

Ah, you make me laugh. Why? Because I do exactly what you are describe, even as that tiny voice inside my head is hissing "just be quiet, pretend you didn't hear that, don't be goaded into saying something....GAH I can't believe you just said that!"

I think the need to challenge unfairness is something you're born with, this innate sense of justice, of standing up against bullies, of speaking your mind even when it's unpopular to do so. An itch is exactly what it feels like. But never, EVER feel ashamed. You did what everyone in that class wants to do but is too fearful to attempt.

I would speak to the department head, but not until the end of my semester. I'm sure he/she has heard it all before, but it will be one more letter in that prof's portfolio which will count at some point.

And might I add "you GO girl."

A Novel Woman said...

pee ess (sorry about the mangled grammar...I'm only half awake and forgot to fix it. Geez, a B- for me...)

Mikey said...

Videotape her classes. Tell her it's for your own personal future use, that you don't want to miss a word she says. Then at least you have some proof of what she's been doing. Plus, it's intimidating :)
Good for you for standing up to her. Seems like she's a bit of a bully herself or wants to be.

steviewren said...

Debbie, you probably spoke for everyone in the class. I bet you are their hero tonight.

My 2 cents of advice is try your best to do what you have to until the term is over...then go spill your guts to the head of the department....for everyone else who will have to endure her intimidation in the future and isn't sure enough of what they believe yet to step up to her intimidation with a challenge of their own.

Mrs.Spit said...

I'm with everyone else. But add this, document, document, document. What she said, how it made you feel, why it's inappropriate. Then complain at the end of the semester.

Redlefty said...

This lady seems to know psychology about as well as a geranium would.

quid said...

Debby, darlin'... she's psyching you out. Oh, to have been old enough and wise enough to realize how my college teachers presented faces that would come back over and over again in corporate America.

It takes all kinds, Debby. And academia may be the least PCorrect frontier.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't go the head of the dept. Because I don't believe that he (she?) isn't already aware of the situation and hasn't done anything about it. They are probably in cahoots.

"Frequently in cases of bullying, and especially in schools, the serial bully (who is usually a head of department or head teacher..

Kelly said...

Glad to hear you have an A in there. Way to go as a straight A student!!!

Bill of Wasilla said...

In light of the fact that you got an "A" I find this situation very interesting. Based on what you write, it seems to me that there is no doubt that she a bully, trying to intimidate and the discussion does seem inappropriate, as if she views her classroom as a nation and she as dictator.

Yet, she did not punish you where it really counts, but gave you an "A."

Is she perhaps sly administering a psychological test? Do you know what kind of grades students who caved to her bullying have received?

PaintedPromise said...

i think what that teacher needs is more students like Debby!!!!!

and i must admit i am glad my girls are not in her class...

hey i have all 3 of my girls now texting me with their exam scores... so i can write back and say YAHOOO and WAY TO GO and I AM SO PROUD OF YOU - if you want to text me your scores, i will cheer for you too :)