I just got the evaluation of my midpoint tenure dossier. I have this nasty quality where I see a single tiny comment I dislike and fixate on it to the exclusion of tons of positive information. I will now be obsessing about the hurtful comment for at least a few months.

The comment that I’m talking about is, “According to student evaluations, Dr. Clarissa’s courses are somewhat easy.” This bugs me, people. If students perceive my classes as easy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I cover too little material or give out easy readings. Maybe I just explain well and make it easier to succeed in the course because I’m a good teacher. Has anybody considered that possibility even? Huh? HUH??

Easy, my ass. I’m the only idiot I know who assigns daily written homework in all her classes. And when I shared with people the list of texts I was going to teach in my Golden Age course, nobody even believed that it was possible to get students to read so many difficult XVI-XVIIth century texts in Spanish. And I make every student participate in discussions on a daily basis. And I have terrorized them to the point where they are afraid to say anything in English even in first-year Spanish.

I told you I was planning to obsess.

12 thoughts on “Easy-Peasy

  1. Guess you’re just going to have to start testing them on stuff you haven’t taught them, the way good and “hard” professors do.
    Plus, language courses SHOULD kind of be easy if your professor is good – you are learning to communicate in a foreign language, so you are typically doing enjoyable things in that foreign language – chatting with your peers, reading interesting stories, watching interesting videos. If it feels “hard” because you’re studying endless vocab lists and not remembering any of it, than your teacher is probably not teaching you nearly as much as they could be. I’ve been taking German recently, and one of our teachers thought he was “hard” and “pushed” people, but he was a very terrible teacher. The teacher who got us playing competitive games and keeping us interested the whole class is the only one I learned anything from!


      1. I agree. My French professor this semester is one of the best teachers I’ve had. I would describe the class as “easy” only because she makes us feel comfortable. She treats us like people, and includes everyone, and even the people who don’t catch on as quickly are integrated into the class in a way that makes them feel like a part of the class. It builds our confidence. If anything, I’d say playing games and singing songs and having discussions in French makes it that much easier to learn the language, because she makes it so fun.


  2. I’ve had professors who were so stung by criticism that they were being “easy” that they responded by artificially inflating the difficulty of their courses and then grading everything on a curve.
    In theory, everyone gets the same mark, but complaints about “ease” are effectively muted. In practice, however, many students who are actually rather competent become inconsolably discouraged after their first assignment and end up dropping the course.


    1. I’m ideologically opposed to curve grading but I do have fantasies of making courses much harder and adopting a nasty barking persona. Maybe I should just greet students with “Hello, vile freakazoids.” Maybe that will make them see me as difficult.


      1. It would be easier for me to write that down in french, but I guess I could try to write it in english. But it will take me way more time.

        The goverment is relly pushing the students to the edge and we are starting to have a major crisis in here.


  3. I will do that as soon as I have a little bit of time. That should give you an idea : http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/04/19/gatineau-protest-montreal-students-bus-to-join-arrests.html.

    The movement started more than 2 months ago, wich is a record in Quebec. Things are starting to get scary with police and private security on campus. They tried to force us into class even if we keep voting for the strike. The goverment just don’t know what to do any more and is mostly trying to beat us down as much as he can. Even peacefuls protesters are a target at this point, believe me.

    It is way worse than what was going on during the strike in 2005. The teachers are showing solidarity, but I think nobody expected things to turn this way (not me for sure) and I feel that students are still much alone in this fight. I am not sure how much they are talking about this outside of quebec, but they should considering how big it turned out to be. I think we are near the end of the strike, but it is still hard to guess how or when it will end up.


    1. The comments to the article you linked to are really disgusting. The commenters blame the students for wanting too much. They have got to be really brainless to see the situation that way.

      “The goverment just don’t know what to do any more and is mostly trying to beat us down as much as he can. Even peacefuls protesters are a target at this point, believe me.”

      – Horrible. That this is happening in Quebec is unbelievable.


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