Monday, July 25, 2005

If I Tell My Wife One of My Students Reminds Me of Her, She Knows What I Mean

Here is one of the uses of blogging: I pass on stuff read elsewhere to my webfeed faithful. (Darwin's Cat, a proud RSS site since July 2005.)

I've been dipping into an email conversation among journalism educators about the novice adjunct fired for blogging that one of his students was "hot" but/and -- I'm not sure which -- really smart. (Scroll down. Read. Whatever.) Now this from that conversation, from one Gerald Grow who teaches journalism at Florida A&M, and who always has something interesting to say.

I've made my effort to identify underlying issues in this thread that has
drawn such vigorous responses. But apparently my idea -- that teachers need training to acculturate them to the profession, especially adjuncts and returning journalists -- found few takers. So I ask those of you who have taken an interest in the "Incredibly Gauche" thread: What are the underlying issues here? What should we take away from this discussion that is larger than the debated points about the specific individual who was fired?

What larger issues need to be discussed still?

Again, I could be wrong, but I sense that there are issues and experiences
beneath this discussion that could be very much worth considering. It is rare that a specific incident evokes so much discussion unless something else is at stake.

Good question. I will continue to interface with this conversation and bring back the news. My only contribution to the discussion is that from the practical point of view you have to fire the guy because if you don't the possibility of a lawsuit is very much alive. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But for an adjunct I don't thiiiiiiiink so.

Addendum: And perhaps this is the last nail in the coffin lid beneath which this series of posts will now rest. Again, from the email thread:

One of the issues for me in this discussion has to do with the
headline that the Chronicle used: "Incredibly Gauche." That, to me,
treats what happened in a rather dismissive manner, reminiscent of the
"boys will be boys" philosophy. This is further underscored by the
fact that the Chronicle, along with another article that was
referenced on this list, merely said that Mr. Gee had called the
student "hot." It did not cite the verbatim language - that she had
"sloe eyes" and a "bitchin bod" - nor did it include his statement
that because of this student's "hotness" he found it hard to pay
attention to the other students.

This is an important point. If Mr. Gee had simply said the student was
"hot," I could reasonably see how he could be reprimanded but not
fired. However, because he used incredibly lewd terms to describe her
- "sloe eyes and a bitchin bod," and because she distracted him from
the other students, it raises the level of his indiscretion to one
that is unacceptable in an academic environment. Neither the Chronicle
nor the other publication printed these facts, leaving the reader with
the impression that, once again, political correctness had run amok
and some guy was fired because he called some chick "hot."

Where the addenda never stop. Finally finally really finally from our last speaker:

It is the context in which he made these comments that troubles me. If
he had gone to a senior colleague and said, "boy, I'm having a hard time
teaching adults. I've got this one student..... What do you advise in
this situation?" The language would be obnoxious, but I'd not fire
someone for it. Here, however, it feels more like bragging? bar talk?
locker room talk? and at that point, I'd say he shouldn't be talking
like that about his students and counsel him differently; reprimand,
fire on second offense. The publishing aspect makes it different. It
takes bragging to an extreme. It makes it possible for it to get back
to his students, and it can't be dismissed away as bar talk. He's lost
all credibilty with those students. How could he continue to teach that
class? If he can't do the work because he's easily distracted, or
because he's completely lost credibility, then why would a department
keep him?

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