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    A letter from a friend of mine to an English Professor.

    You've made good points and I appreciate your honesty. I try not to be a selfish, egoistic or a merciless person, if I have erred then I have erred. The fact that your willing to tell me how, more or less resolves the issue. Had you not been as definite with me, I would have pushed this further.

    The reason for absence to your class specifically was the I worked from 10pm to 6am then would try to sleep as short as possible in order to see a girl between waking and going to your class. I could only see her at that time, because her Parents are fanatic evangelicals and since she contracted a heart illness about 9 months back, they put a prohibition on her seeing me because they are afraid she is going to die and go to hell or something for being with a 'non-believer'. So I had to sneak in during the two days when her Mom wasn't home. Unfortunately I would sometimes fall asleep there, or often she would beg me to stay as we hardly got to see each other. At the end of the day, I had far more passion for being with her, than being in your class. That put the strain on my attendance in your class, so I hope you don't take it personally that I wasn't there, nor that I told you I was 'sick', as I don't really think telling you I was sneaking into an evangelical home to see a fatefully ill ex-girlfriend with religious extremist parents would have been appropriate or believable at the time. So I'm glad you cut me slack on the attendance policy because it was a bit complicated. Even without that aspect however, my attendance would have been lacking.

    The problem is I hate University but I love learning. I hate University exactly for some of the reasons you have stated why my grade was a confusing choice. University favors bureaucracy not industry, it seems more often than not that Professors desire obedience rather than merit, or rather that obedience is confused for merit. In many classes there are those who work very hard but lack talent, and often they are favored in grading because they have put in so much effort over someone whose raw ability is better, even though their outcome is lesser. The objective always seems muddled to me, is the purpose of a class to improve your basic skill set or to execute the highest degree of dominance over a skill-set regardless of improvement? Is the purpose to 'try hardest' or to 'execute most successfully'?

    I have faced this conundrum several times, and luckily I have gotten better at playing the game, but I've never respected it. Perhaps the worst example, was a 3000 level Spanish class I leap-frogged into at my last University, mind you I am a native speaker of Spanish. I recall reading the papers of my 'editing partner' and being unable to understand this caveman imitation of Iberia's most important language. At the end of it however, she got an A and I got a C, despite the vast disparity in the quality of our work. Upon asking the Teacher why, the reasons stated were attendance and that I would just 'turn in assignments' without submitting prior 'outlines' and 'vocabulary search' along with them. At that time I was more detached and cared less, I simply stated to her 'why do I need such things if the point of the class writing papers not doing vocabulary crosswords.' This obviously didn't go well.

    I've seen some justice though, I had a Biology professor that refused to accept a research paper from me because the binder was 'unaesthetic' and according to him "It was clearly stated that an aesthetic cover was part of the assignment." I told him plainly that I'm not a 13 year old girl with glue stick and glitter, the point of this class is Biology not getting an art badge in Brownie Scouts. The Teacher disliked me from long before, he confused my dispassion for arrogance and my detachment as an insult. I took it to the Dean, and he found that the Teacher's actions bordered on harassment. In the end, my grade was reversed from a D to an A, mostly because I got the highest grade in the class on the Final. Ironically, at UNO they didn't accept this Biology credit transfer.

    Some might say these 'details' are well founded in industry and that doing an outline has an equivalent in industry. Perhaps, just as when you write a program you need to have supporting documentation. It's not entirely the same thing though, an outline is a supplement to aid in a result but it is a supplement no less, not the core of a project, while documentation is necessary for successful management of a program. If the capricious frivolities in academia do mimic any type of industry, they mimic corporations in over-regulated vertically-oppressed quixotic nations such as the one I am in right now. Here you have to get the social security number of every person you make a sale to, taxes start a 37% and there is a permit for anything you want to do. Otherwise the police come and throw you in jail for the societal equivalent of academic insubordination. However, these laws only apply to those who are successful enough to launch an enterprise by the book, for the rest of the 80% of the population who try 'really hard', the Government turns a blind eye to their black-market and gives them hand-outs taken from the taxes of the more successful. The reflects quite aptly the situation of intention over result present in academia at large, most commonly found in the Humanities, where the 'details' are largely capriciously invented by Teachers, while in the Sciences they are axioms determined by nature herself.

    It's exactly for these reasons, I'm about a hair strand from just quitting college and focusing 150% on getting a job in my field and launching an enterprise. Why should I pay money for a bureaucratic beating? Why should I be chastised for not wanting to participate in class discussions with people who I otherwise wouldn't even speak to otherwise? Do I really gain anything of value from listening to a person so bereft of critical thinking that they give a presentation on why it is 'Christian' to support the 'death penalty' or when I'm forced to write papers supporting social agendas which I thoroughly oppose? I get nothing from it, just debt, frustration and lost time.

    You state that my grade fell to a B due not to attendance but to mere lack of achievement in the 'details' of assignments in which I got A's in. I see reason in that, and I have no reason to believe you docked me points on those assignments simply for absences. I respect that I did not get the points on those assignments and had I not been at Carnaval and then my internship here in Bolivia, I would have conferenced with you before the end of class to have dealt with it. That was my responsibility.

    The question however, is do those missed assignments reflect didactism, or are they simply the defects of the sub-conscious impulse to control? Does the fact that an annotated bibliography lacks 'similarity' clauses change the fact that the paper it was meant to support was well-researched enough to get an A? Does the fact that there was no idea outline drawing, change the fact that a well-organized nebula of ideas did exist in the paper? Was the purpose was to use the crutches that aid in writing in a good paper, or actually write a solid paper? Was the purpose consequence or intention? As far as I can see, you gave me points for 'doing' but docked me points for 'not trying' me that is the definition of cognitive dissonance.

    Ultimately, only you know the answer to these questions. At large, it is this sort of introspection that will have to take place before the academic system can cease to decay in the way it has been. In the way that has made me so estranged to it.
    1. This is a real email/letter that was sent.

    2. No, lol, I did not write this.

    3. I'm not yet aware of what the professor's response is.
    Last edited by Vulgotha; 03-06-2012 at 03:31.

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