Friday, 18 November 2011

Judgement Placed

This is what I found when I opened up my computer this morning. It's actually quite sad that I forgot about this note altogether, and I wrote it two days ago. I somehow think I am might just fail at this one. I think that instead of trying to come up with something funny and/or witty today, I am just going to write about what I want to write about, and that is judgment.

We all judge people. We can't help it. I have been called the Queen of Snap Judgments on occasion, and I will freely admit to it. I have a judging buddy, who unfortunately moved to Halifax, but that doesn't mean that I have stopped. Au contraire mon amie. I have a very low threshold for bullshit which makes judging people that much easier. Usually it's in the form of what people are wearing (like Spirithoods, Ugg boots with short short, slippers that people think are shoes), or from the stupid things people say(there is such a thing as a stupid question, and they usually come from stupid people). I had a friend who sent me a message yesterday, asking me about something historical. I answered her question and she then told me that her prof was trying to tell her otherwise. I'm sorry, but you hold a PhD and you honestly think that a man's family gave a dowry to a woman's family in the 18th century?! Were you dropped on your head recently?! Haven't you read anything, ever?! Do you not know that men were worth more and that the woman's family had to throw something extra in like a couple goats or a llama to sweeten the deal and get him to take her off their hands?! Apparently not.

This brings me to my main point. It's that time of year again. The time of year that I look forward to with great anticipation. What is this thing I look so forward to you ask? Course evaluations. I love them. I see them as a way to provide constructive (and sometimes not so constructive) criticism to a person who has been judging you and grading you all semester. It's a turning of the tables, that I look forward to. Normally, I am pretty nice in my evaluations. I am all for constructive criticism and will give it out as nicely as I can. However, there are just some courses where you rub your hands together in excitement and glee, as you wait for that itty bitty number 2 pencil to be placed in front of you. For me, these instances are usually reserved for courses that I have absolutely loathed with every fibre of my being. The times when I can outright tell a prof that they are wrong and that they need to seriously consider revamping thier course. In my opinion some profs deserve this kind of feedback. They are the profs who are unclear in their instructions, are unrealistic in their expectations, and who blatantly ignore you when you kindly tell them that they are mistaken. For example, I took a survey of historic dress class last fall. I love clothing and fashion and history(my dream job would be to be a historical consultant for movie and television!), so I was really excited when I saw that this course was offered, even though it wasn't a history class, but a human ecology one. I was willing to overlook that fact because I was going to get to learn about pretty clothes. At first the class wasn't so bad. I did think that she was asking a lot out of a pretty big survey class, but hey, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It was a couple weeks into class, and we were in the early modern period, and this is when I started to hate the class, and her. She started making these sweeping statements about society and social status and norms and tenuously trying to link them to the way people dressed (this is something entirely possible to do, but you have to have done your research!). That was her first mistake. If you are going to make claims like that in a class, at least do your research, and maybe make sure you don't have any early modernists sitting in class. Her second mistake was the paper. That hated paper, which everyone (with the exception of a few, myself included) did terribly on. Basically, by the time evaluations rolled around I was so done with her stupidity, that I basically ripped her and her course to shreds. By the time the final hit, I was really glad that I gave her the evaluation that I did, because upon sitting down and writing it, I noticed that one of her questions was logically flawed and had not one, but two answers. I raised my hand and pointed this out to her. She looked at me, and told me to just leave it alone and answer the one I knew was argument was that they were both right, so technically I could put one or the other. This isn't the LSAT where you choose the one that is more right than the other possibly right answers. She looked at me, and just told me to answer the question with the answer I knew was right. She didn't even bother to acknowledge her error. I was unimpressed.

Does this make me a know it all and possibly a bitch? Maybe. But I have no time for people like that, and even less patience for courses like that. The last I heard, she dropped the paper altogether and drastically revamped her course. I see my feedback as an act of kindness, in that, by providing the (perhaps a little vitriolic) feedback that I did, I was helping the students who decided to take the course after me. Also, in that she could re-evaluate the ways in which she approached her class, and possibly do a bit more historical research before she started making sweeping grand claims about time periods. This is why I get excited about evaluations. Regardless of how they are stated, course evaluations allow for room for improvement. Either that, or maybe MY expectations are too high and I have perfectionist tendencies and a mild case of OCP (I have rediagnosed myself with obsessive compulsive personality, rather than obsessive compulsive disorder...who needs a doctor!)...that's probably more so the case. Oh well.



  1. I have 2 comments:

    1) That HECOL class was such a joke. Before she handed the papers back she started saying things like, "some people followed the directions I gave too well and I was forced to award marks to them even though I disagreed that they deserved them" and then when I got my paper back, I learned that I was one of those ppl! Like give me a break, sorry I followed YOUR directions.
    AND it's really great that she revised the class, but how does that help us now? That class completely pulled down my GPA for the semester. If a class rates the prof really terribly, there should be an automatic increase in grade, IMHO!

  2. 2) Here is a quote from the syllabus of one of my classes: "There is no perceived correct way to handle this assignment on my part." And yet, when I submitted the assignment, mark were docked for not delving deeply enough into one aspect of the presentation. So how on earth was I suppose to know what to delve deeply into when the syllabus is so lacking in info?? I don't know if I get to do evaluations because it's over the internet, but I sure hope I do!

  3. That class was the biggest waste of my time and money. I still find it funny that she wanted copies of both of our papers to have on hand so she could use them as examples for students who came to complain about the grade she gave them. Also, you'd think that she would have put together her own index rather than using mine.

    Also, I hope you get to do an eval to! If not, the crap out of that prof!