by Lisa

If we perform poorly, they feel like failures.  They feel disappointed that we weren’t paying as much attention as they think they deserved.  They want to be dazzling and engaging and have their words bore into our hungry little brains.  We have not all met their expectations, which means that they have not met their own expectations or those of their superiors.

What if we, the idiots, just don’t bother to try?  What if we resent their criticism and rail back in end-of-year reviews?  What if we just really don’t give a shit, and they pay the consequences?

They want to stand at the front and be heard, and teach, and learn and research and write and publish and move ahead.  Accolades, grants, awards, respect.  Adjunct to associate to full.  This takes the cooperation of us, the glazed-eyed masses struggling to meet deadlines.

One of them cried in class in front of us, after kicking us out of the room early the night before, for one boy’s failure to define a term.  He cried and apologized to us.  I had been angry first at the boy and then at him for targeting that boy, and punishing us all for that individual’s failure.  The early dismissal was just a shaming technique, and manipulative.  He should have known better, as a psychology instructor so proud of his PhD, and on his path to being a counsellor.  He ended up being a real asshole that one night, and the next night, he cried.  I felt yanked around, not empathetic.

Some of them cry over our failures in the privacy of their own homes.  Some of them rein in their flexibility and take away our freedom to make mistakes or get sick without losing our good marks.

They earn those degrees and apply for this job.  They expect to have to test us and read what we write, right?

I just want to sit them all down, offer them a piece of good pie, and a decent cup of coffee, and tell them that it’ll all be okay.  Some of us will pass, some will fail, and if they really really hate making marks on the papers they demand, they are free dismiss class forever.  Go home to husbands, wives, partners, babies, dogs, cats, empty apartments, and recharge those academic batteries.  Maybe weave a basket. Paint a picture.  Write something silly.

In the meantime, I watch this breed of human carefully.  I even managed to fall in love with one of their kind.  They all need to start hugging in the hallways or something, because getting paid a living wage to share knowledge is a blessing that few people will ever enjoy.

Life is good, dammit, and most of us are trying our best.