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January 18, 2006


I remember hating such professors when I was at UH. I only had a few, and like you I played along.

Btw you aren't literally a captive audience unless you are jailed... I mean you can walk out, right?

It's really about time that this sort of behavior in the academic world be brought to justice, or named. As a student who spent his collegiate career in Los Angeles at another institution I found myself, time after time, not only weary of divulging my political beliefs in class... but that it was a detriment to my grade in those classes.

I will acquiesce that while a majority of my teachers were admittedly liberal, only a few were bad enough to impose their opinion and intimidate others out of academia. In one particular class the teacher would check and preach Michaelmoore.com like it was the front page of the newspaper or a page from the gospel. She even made parrallels between him, Jesus Christ and Mahatma Ghandi. We were even given credit to leave class one day to parade around campus with STOP THE WAR signs... ummm... awkward.

Harkonnendog, you're right about the use of the word "literally." It literally made me jump six feet high when I read your comment. (Just kidding.)

What a great post, Gina.

Oh, and Harkonnendog: Of course, any money paid as tuition is captive, because the school definitely won't return that if you choose to walk out of class rather than attend.

I guess in an absolutely precise world (are you by chance an engineer or a mathematician?), the phrase "captive audience" is a figurative rather than a literal device. But you knew that, didn't you?


I was wondering: that Marxism course you took, what department was it in?


Peter, I don't remember the department at the moment -- I think it was poli sci or sociology. The course also dealt with Hegel and the dialectic.


Was you experience in law school similar to your undergrad experience? I “conformed” in undergraduate school as much as I could. However, law school made me feel liberated. Anonymous grading was a godsend. I did write about the Second Amendment once in law school, and that wasn’t wise. But other than that, I felt much better and secure in law school.

Oh, and Hark, you might want to consider just how free you are to walk out when you MUST have THIS course, taught by THIS professor, at THIS time, to graduate on schedule, or at all, and enter a career field you've been working towards your whole life. If I run into this on a job, I can find another one and keep it somewhat quiet. But when I'm trying to get must have degrees, in courses that won't transfer, then I am a captive audience.

While the politicization may be new, the idea of parroting back the teacher's words is old news. Take it from an old man...

In 1980 I was in college studying Advertising. In my copywriting course on Tuesday noghts, the teacher told us to write short, punchy sentences and don't worry about grammar. In my Project Management course on Wednesday morning the teacher told us to write flowing, elegant sentences and observe every rule of grammar. So, I wrote short, punchy sentences on Tuesday nights and elegant, flowing sentences on Wednesday mornings, and got an "A" in both classes.

It goes back even further. In high school lit class, I spent the first semester reading the books, participating in class discussions, and "showing my thinking" on the exams. I got a C. I figured that was way too much work. Second semester, I didn't crack a book, didn't raise my hand once, but took lots of notes which I regurgitated on the exam. As the professor was handing out the final he said "Don't just repeat what you heard in class. Show me your thinking." Half of my answers I wrote "As you said in class...." I got an A.

Nothing new here.

I wrote an academically excellent, thoroughly researched paper, knowing that I was probably taking a position opposite to one held by a professor, but naively hoping that he would recognize the quality of my effort. Wrong. I received a mediocre grade.

Did it ever occur to you that maybe your paper just wasn't as good as you thought it was?

Sometimes students don't understand that whay they thought was a good paper wasn't. Just because *you* call it academically excellent doesn't mean it was. And maybe the second professor (a different one from my reading, thereby blowing your entire experiment) was grade inflating you mediocrity, a common problem at colleges.

Gene, I had close to the same thing. I took a english class in 1980. The teacher was a very nice lady and I dont remember anything about politics in class. I received As and Bs on every paper until about 3/4 of the way thru class. I turned in a paper taking a pro-capital punishment position. I was asked to make an appointment in her office. I was told that this paper wasnt up to my normal standard and should consider rewriting it and she would withhold grading it until the second paper. I wasnt sure what was wrong with the paper, but I thought I would try a expirement and rewrote my paper taking a anti-capital punishment position. Got a A on that paper. It actually didnt bother me as I enjoyed writing papers, and arguing positions I didnt agree with made me understand and defend my positions better. OTOH, if I had been ridiculed in class and treated poorly because of my political viewpoint I would feel differently. As I said, she was a very nice woman and I enjoyed the class.

> Did it ever occur to you that maybe
> your paper just wasn't as good as
> you thought it was?

Let's see the papers!!!!

I stand astonished that in this litigous age the American University examining system is so primitive and open to abuse.

Gina- It sounds like you got the game down and survived... Sad that this goes on.

Back in the day, I took anthro class at UCLA taught by a prof who specialized in "Marxian analysis of Inca pottery sherds." We had a guest speaker come in who was digging holes in Siberia (I don't remember why, I was an aerospace engineering major in an Anthro class, they were lucky I showed up). When my prof asked our guest "What would Marx say about this?", our Soviet-trained guest gave him a blank stare. This was 1992, and Marx wasn't terribly hip in Russian academic circles.

Having read this post, I have learned for myself a lot of the new. Thanks

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