Thursday, June 01, 2006

Someone who I do not like

I’ve talked about the John Merrow podcasts before—they’re great listening, extremely well done, and I recommend them to anyone who is nerdy about education the way I am. Recently they did two podcasts where they interviewed professors at the University of Arizona to find out what they thought of university teaching today.

The one that I listened to first was Paulette Kurzer from the Political Science department, and it was one of those that made me sad and angry at the same time. I’ll give her some credit for her honesty, but at the same time I question why anyone with some of her beliefs would stay in the profession. Here’s some quotes that jumped out at me:

I know I am very dynamic and energetic, but then I read those exams and I think, yet another group of students who couldn’t care less. It’s just a performance-lecturing. I feel there are 220 students in this course and I probably perform for 20 of them.

I’ll happily grant that my experience in teaching adults is limited to some staff presentations at my school and leading a book study this year. That said, anyone who is only reaching 10% of their students IS doing something wrong, and one subset of teacher that annoys the hell out of me is the one that pats themselves on the back for doing a great job while at the same time letting that many kids go wanting.

John Merrow: Are you well paid?
Paulette Kurzer: No. No! No! My pay is a source of great discontent.
Merrow: How much do you make?
Kurzer: I’m making $65,000.

Insert primal scream here from a teacher making $35,000 a year.

Perhaps I shouldn’t judge. Maybe the cost of living in Tuscon is high. It could be that Dr. Kurzer is trying to put 5 kids through college. I don’t know the woman. What I do know is that she makes more than most, and later on you’ll see how she uses the money issue to excuse some horribly lax practices.

Merrow: Okay. Let’s argue about this. I think, for the sake of argument, students are not demanding because you professors are so boring that don’t bring it to life, and they don’t know enough to be angry that they’re just being droned at.
Kurzer: Wow! You are just the devil’s advocate, so I’ll continue to talk to you (laughs). But I don’t think I’m boring, and the students know that I invest a lot of my lectures, and that’s very clear because of my visuals.

Insert a second primal scream here, because I get the sense that she’s more interested in her visuals looking pretty than she is in them actually being effective.

It reminds me of a session I sat through last year at the OSPI Summer Institute, which is our state’s main way of sharing ideas with teachers. I had picked this particular session because it had “fluency” in the title, and that was something that I really wanted to work on this past year. The duo that presented seemed nice enough, and they had THE BEST POWERPOINT SLIDES I’VE EVER SEEN. Drop dead gorgeous backgrounds, preset animations that worked, color changes, and some of the best bullets you’ll see outside of Dick Cheney’s lawyer friend. The trouble is that it was a Tyra Banks presentation—great looks, zero content. Less than zero. It was one of those Billy Madison moments where you feel dumber for having listened to it.

My point is that it doesn’t matter if your presentation looks good if the kids aren’t learning. If she’s pouring tons of effort into the technology but still only self-reporting that 10% of her students are engaged, she’s making a mistake.

Merrow: How many do the work? How many of the 225?
Kurzer: Well you know, I don’t know exactly. Maybe ten percent. Maybe 15 percent.
Merrow: So you are teaching to that ten or 15 percent?
Kurzer: Well, I definitely address those but there is obviously a tacit understanding that they do minimal amount and in return I can get away doing minimal amount.

All I can say is wow. Incredible. Sad. I don’t care if that is the tacit agreement, if that is part and parcel of the experience, if that is the reality. I don’t think you should be putting voice to a sentiment like that if you work at any level of education.

I teach first grade, and I work awfully hard to try to get them all up to the standards that we’ve set, but then I work even harder to get them beyond. I could have ignored my upper reading group all year long and they still would have been just fine, but I’ve been able to push them into books like The Big Wave that first graders typically don’t get to. For her to have the eager ones and hope that they don’t try to stretch themselves so she can do the “minimal amount” is a damnable shame.

Merrow: Is it discouraging to be there and thinking that only ten percent are…
Kurzer: No. No, no. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. No. It’s not discouraging. The only thing that discourages me is my pay (laughs). Not this (laughs). Only my pay.
Merrow: Is there something you could do different that would change this?
Kurzer: Uh, well, I could create course requirements where they have to do more writing, or they have to come and see an instructor. I could make them work harder. But why should I? Why should I? I’m not getting paid in order to have a bigger load unto myself.

I’m so liberal I voted for Nader twice, but here’s where my inner conservative runs riot. You should make them work harder because THAT’S WHAT THE TAXPAYERS ARE PAYING YOU TO DO! IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MORE THAN $65 GRAND A YEAR, SHOW YOU DESERVE IT! RIGHT NOW YOU’RE PUTTING OUT ABOUT AS MUCH EFFORT AS A STUMP, AND YOU WANT MORE FOR THAT? IN REAGAN’S NAME, I CURSE THEE!

Huh. That was actually kind of refreshing. I think I’ll vote for Jeb.

Merrow: How many “A’s” do you give?
Kurzer: Well, I grade on a curve. We all do, I think. So, usually ten, 15 percent.
Merrow: Is it really “A” work?
Kurzer: No. No. But I grade on a curve.

I can understand the temptation. Using a curve, at least you’ll have some kids get an A, a 4.0, whatever the scale may be. I’d love to know just how prevalent a practice this is in the college ranks.

Merrow: Are the students not engaged because they’re too busy doing something else?
Kurzer: I think so.
Merrow: What are they doing?
Kurzer: Well, many of them work. I think all of them work. And I don’t know what else they do.

This is another reality of college life today. When I was working my way through my Master’s program it was terribly diffiult sometimes to balance the class work, the teaching work, and the family commitments, especially with what we go through to renew our certificate any more. Plus, I was on the pay-as-I-went plan with no student loans, so the beginning of the quarter was always extra tight.

Merrow: How much work outside of class does your course require?
Kurzer: I personally think very little. I think very little.
Merrow: Time?
Kurzer: I don’t know. An hour? Maybe an hour a week.

An hour a week, for college level work. This is probably part of the “You do less so I can do less!” bargain she has with her students, but it’s obviously not the way it should be.

The next quote is the unforgivable one that really sends me over the edge.

Merrow: Do you ever say to yourself, “Okay, so these kids can’t write very well. I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’m going to go the extra mile. I’m going to make them rewrite their papers. I’ll stay up nights…”
Kurzer: No. No. No. No.
Merrow: Why not?
Kurzer: Why should I? I’m making $65,000.




Why should you? Because it’s an ethical responsibility. Because you owe it to your students. Because you owe it to the people of the state of Arizona who are paying your salary. Because there’s an army of adjuncts out there scraping by and accomplishing great things while you sit on your dead, tenured butt and complain about how much money you make. Because it’s how you earn the title teacher. Because it’s the right thing to do.

And as a union member, I know that there are limits. You can’t let yourself get taken advantage of, and you can’t let yourself be used up. What Dr. Kurzer describes, though, is only doing the bare minimum because she doesn’t feel like she makes enough to do any more, and that’s not acceptable.

The other Merrow podcast, which I’ll write about later, is of a professor who is a diametric opposite to Dr. Kurzer. It'll make for a great comparison.


Blogger NYC Educator said...

She sounds like a classically bad teacher. The contempt for her students, the smug superiority she feels, (to all of them too--note how none deserve A) the lack of any sense of responsibility whatsoever...I would not want my kid in her class.

But if you think folks like that are only in college, you're mistaken.

I don't think she makes a lot of money, though. No offense. Where I work, a house unfit to live in goes for at least half a million bucks.

I work a second job nights, and an occasional third one weekends to get by. But I have respect for my students.

Maybe the bright students avoid her class. It seems worth the effort.

2:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlimited Earnings Potential -

Our company is rapidly growing and offers you an extraordinary income helping others succeed. The primary requirement is to follow up on client inquiries and point them in the right direction. It is stress free, rewarding and straightforward work.

For complete details:

(Please feel free to delete this post if you don't want it on your blog. Thanks for the informative blog and opportunity to post.)

7:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Webmail program for the major free email sites -

My Mail 1.0 is configured to work with AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Linuxmail, and Yahoo. With My Mail 1.0 you get the benefit of premium services without having to pay site fees. My Mail 1.0 completely automates the process of sending and receiving mail from the major sites, saving you time and trouble.

My Mail 1.0 eliminates the need to visit web sites to send and receive mail, which increases the speed of sending and receiving email by over 80%, even if they do not offer what is known as POP3, IMAP and SMTP. My Mail 1.0's look is also fully customizable. One you use it, you'll never want to go back to the web site again to get your mail.

For complete details:

(Please feel free to delete this post if you don't want it on your blog. Thanks for the informative blog and opportunity to post.)

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took two of her courses at the University of Arizona. I actually consider her the best teacher I had during my undergraduate career. I never felt so fully engaged as I did in her class. She invested a lot in her lectures, and she definitely didn't make things easy for her students.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

豆豆聊天室 aio交友愛情館 2008真情寫真 2009真情寫真 aa片免費看 捷克論壇 微風論壇 大眾論壇 plus論壇 080視訊聊天室 情色視訊交友90739 美女交友-成人聊天室 色情小說 做愛成人圖片區 豆豆色情聊天室 080豆豆聊天室 小辣妹影音交友網 台中情人聊天室 桃園星願聊天室 高雄網友聊天室 新中台灣聊天室 中部網友聊天室 嘉義之光聊天室 基隆海岸聊天室 中壢網友聊天室 南台灣聊天室 南部聊坊聊天室 台南不夜城聊天室 南部網友聊天室 屏東網友聊天室 台南網友聊天室 屏東聊坊聊天室 雲林網友聊天室 大學生BBS聊天室 網路學院聊天室 屏東夜語聊天室 孤男寡女聊天室 一網情深聊天室 心靈饗宴聊天室 流星花園聊天室 食色男女色情聊天室 真愛宣言交友聊天室 情人皇朝聊天室 上班族成人聊天室 上班族f1影音視訊聊天室 哈雷視訊聊天室 080影音視訊聊天室 38不夜城聊天室 援交聊天室080 080哈啦聊天室 台北已婚聊天室 已婚廣場聊天室 夢幻家族聊天室 摸摸扣扣同學會聊天室 520情色聊天室 QQ成人交友聊天室 免費視訊網愛聊天室 愛情公寓免費聊天室 拉子性愛聊天室 柔情網友聊天室 哈啦影音交友網 哈啦影音視訊聊天室 櫻井莉亞三點全露寫真集 123上班族聊天室 尋夢園上班族聊天室 成人聊天室上班族 080上班族聊天室 6k聊天室 粉紅豆豆聊天室 080豆豆聊天網 新豆豆聊天室 080聊天室 免費音樂試聽 流行音樂試聽 免費aa片試看A片 免費a長片線上看 色情貼影片 免費a長片 本土成人貼圖站 大台灣情色網 台灣男人幫論壇 A圖網 嘟嘟成人電影網 火辣春夢貼圖網 情色貼圖俱樂部 台灣成人電影 絲襪美腿樂園 18美女貼圖區 柔情聊天網 707網愛聊天室聯盟 台北69色情貼圖區 38女孩情色網 台灣映像館 波波成人情色網站 美女成人貼圖區 無碼貼圖力量 色妹妹性愛貼圖區 日本女優貼圖網 日本美少女貼圖區 亞洲風暴情色貼圖網 哈啦聊天室 美少女自拍貼圖 辣妹成人情色網 台北女孩情色網 辣手貼圖情色網 AV無碼女優影片 男女情色寫真貼圖 a片天使俱樂部 萍水相逢遊戲區 平水相逢遊戲區 免費視訊交友90739 免費視訊聊天 辣妹視訊 - 影音聊天網 080視訊聊天室 日本美女肛交 美女工廠貼圖區 百分百貼圖區 亞洲成人電影情色網 台灣本土自拍貼圖網 麻辣貼圖情色網 好色客成人圖片貼圖區 711成人AV貼圖區 台灣美女貼圖區 筱萱成人論壇 咪咪情色貼圖區 momokoko同學會視訊 kk272視訊 情色文學小站 成人情色貼圖區 嘟嘟成人網 嘟嘟情人色網 - 貼圖區 免費色情a片下載 台灣情色論壇 成人影片分享 免費視訊聊天區 微風 成人 論壇 kiss文學區 taiwankiss文學區

5:03 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home