S&M Teaching 

I have no idea why people choose to teach the kind of material that’s related to their deepest traumas. She is sadistically setting students up for a failure while masochistically torturing herself. 

I’d never teach works of literature that mention late-term fetal loss, stillbirth, or gestational diabetes because I know I can’t be unemotional about it. Students should not be subjected to projections if they unwittingly touch a sore place in a teacher’s psyche.


6 thoughts on “S&M Teaching ”

  1. I read this article when it appeared on Inside Higher Ed. And I had the exact same reaction you did, but the comments on the article seemed to be mostly sympathetic. I don’t want to fault the professor for her reaction to the paper–rape is definitely traumatic–but if you’re teaching controversial topics, you should expect some pushback from students. They may even submit work that reflects a deep misunderstanding of the topic or a complete lack of willingness to seriously explore the topic beyond the uninformed, standard responses to it by people whose identity or privilege has shielded them from it. But I think it’s a professor’s responsibility to be prepared for this, to educate the students using sound arguments, and to not (be tempted to) take their anger out on the students.


  2. I don’t know…perhaps cut rate therapy is involved?
    I understand avoiding things and situations you know are going to set you off [if you have that ability take advantage of it], but sometimes those aren’t as controllable as one would wish.


  3. The weirdest part was: “this student was able to undercut whatever authority I thought I had as an instructor”

    to me that strongly implies that she doesn’t belong in any classroom until she’s undergone a non-trivial amount of therapy…


    1. If this happened a while ago and the trauma is still this raw, it means she’s not been in any treatment at all. It’s unbelievable how carerless people are with their mental health. Even highly educated people. What’s worse, nobody in her life cares enough to tell her she needs treatment.


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