"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

irritated theory

Theory. Not a fan.

I like concrete, measurable ideas. I don't like abstract, non-testable philosophies. My brain gets lost in there. Even when taking a decade of piano lessons - give me scales and arpeggios any day of the week.

(My parents just burst out in derisive snorts at that claim. I'll admit I did more than my share of weeping, wailing and whining over scales and arpeggios.
Still, I'd rather play piano than study the theory of it.)

I know theory matters. (I even tell other aspiring pianists - theory matters.) Specifically, theory matters in my current studies, because it's a prerequisite for everything else. And ... it's not offered in the summer. And ... it's a two-semester course, which means that I will miss two weeks of it while I'm in Ukraine, because I have to take the course through the fall and winter semesters.


So I registered this morning, and then checked out the details. Now I'm irritated. Here's why.

1. The university is a world unto itself. Exams won't be scheduled, textbooks won't be specified, syllabi won't be published until the university is good and ready. A pox on the rest of your life! We don't care that you are a contributing member of society, with other plans that must be made! You shall be ruled by our inflexible bureaucracy! Even if we KNOW the answers, we won't tell you, because we think you don't need to know yet! Furthermore, we may not even tell you WHEN we plan to tell you, unless you manage to successfully navigate an impossibly dense and user-hateful website. Bwahaha.

(I'm ashamed to admit it took me a few tries to spell "bureaucracy" correctly,
in that previous paragraph.)

2. Professors can ... sometimes ... be a tad ... preemptively bossy. I know that non-professors can also be preemptively bossy, but in the rest of life, I have the right to challenge it, or at least engage in some kind of negotiation. It's weird to be a responsible, forward-thinking, paycheque-earning, mortgage-paying, people-leading adult who is often older than the professor, and yet be on the receiving end of preemptive bossiness. It feels condescending and rude.

The syllabus for this course is not yet available, naturally. But I managed to find last year's, and hopefully it will be similar. The good news is - no essays. The bad news is - last year's mid-term exam was November 15. This year, I get back from Ukraine on November 9.

This particular syllabus contains more than the usual amount of CAPITAL LETTERS and ITALICS and BOLD proclamations of what will NOT BE TOLERATED, FREQUENTLY UNDERLINED for extra emphasis. The entire thing radiates an assumptions that I'm looking for the easy way out of this whole educational experience, and that I'm not quite worth the prof's time.

Honestly, the 10 Commandments are less intimidating.

And, lest I dare to suggest that my work life might ALSO be important, the prof firmly states that tests and assignments will certainly not be moved for any reason, even travel due to full-time work. It is followed up with the suggestion that I should prioritize my life better. If the university was not a world unto itself, perhaps it would let me know important dates a little earlier, so that I COULD prioritize my life - and plane tickets - better.

I don't know why I'm so rant-y today.
Yes I do.
I rant each time I register for a new course.

But I checked out the prof on "Rate My Professor" and he's got pretty solid reviews. Which is encouraging.

So it will be fine, as long as that test doesn't land before before my plane does.

Now back to my regular cheery self.

Note to any of my previous profs:
The fact that you know where this blog is,
is evidence that this particular post is not about you.


Diane H. said...

Not to defend the professors (of course you KNOW I'm on your side) but after hearing a few years of excuses as a TA, I do get where the attitude comes from.

Part of why I'm not a math professor today is that I knew I would grow to hate and despise all of my students. (Yeah, that's it. Nothing to do with that whole "getting a PhD is hard" thing.)

Anonymous said...

Accept my free underline ___________________. Add any emphasis you would like. Use UPPERCASE or italized lettering if you do please. It may prove to be therapeutic.

Patti said...

That's very thoughtful of you, Anonymous.

Diane - squinting suspiciously at your claim to be on MY side. And shaking my head at your almost-a-math-PhD status. You couldn't just spread some of the brains around? Instead of hogging them all for yourself?