Sunday, November 27, 2011

A couple of dyspeptic memos, with feelings in them.

TO: Student, whom I like quite a bit and who is still in the game at this late point in the semester, so...there's that.

FROM: Professor, easily appalled because of this same late point in the semester.

DATE: Today

RE: What you said about Chekhov

When you said you loved Russian writers but you also thought that writers from this period tended to make small details "unnecessarily long-winded" and that Chekhov was "no exception," I felt a little murderous.

Chekhov was, well, first of all, Chekhov is Chekhov, for heaven's sake. Secondly, sir, he was a Russian writer. The winters in Russia are long. What was there for Chekhov to do but write long, elegant, wintry sentences?


TO: Student, whom I like but who always disagrees with me in every damned online discussion, literally EVERY single one.

FROM: Professor, who's a little tired of this nonsense, at this late point in the semester.

DATE: Today

RE: Your critique of me

Today, when I read your critique of the question I asked in the online discussion, particularly where you told me I should write more clearly and my questions shouldn't have so many parts, I felt annoyed.

My dear, you may be right. But I shall continue to ask my many-parted questions until forever or when I find a simpler way to ask them. You go on thinking every question can be asked in a single, straightforward, uncomplicated clause. You'll probably make piles of money and I will still be a community college professor. But I will have my dignity. And my fat, gnarled questions. And this tiny bit of rancor that I shall cherish, a minuscule needle that I will keep in my satchel of teaching memorabilia.


  1. Can I just say, as a student at another local school, as a student in classes that require online discussion posting, as a student who thinks before she posts--I want to punch those other kids in the face, those kids who either a)don't think for twenty seconds before dashing off some blahblahblah waste of time to read, and/or b)feel the need to critique and/or question without first thoughtfully considering the online discussion assignment. Gah. I don't like those kids.

  2. Those kinds of comments are why I find teaching online so painful. Perhaps an "edit your mouth" course could be taught before an edit your wiring course.

  3. I didn't take any delight in your frustrations, dear friend, but I did find hope in the fact that it's not just my students who do this sort of thing. I actually had a student email me not long ago with this question: "Do we have to be online for this online class?" *sigh*

    Oh how I miss being able to kvetch in person with you, Sue & Jen. Thank goodness for the Internet!

  4. First, it's nice to have most of my eyes back so I can read your posts.

    Second. Onlne comments. Blech. At least when you write a newspaper column you don't have to read what people say about you.

    Snaps to you teachers for putting up with so much. My respect is unshakeable.

  5. Your student's Chekhov comment reminded me of this exchange in Amadeus:

    EMPEROR: Well, I mean occasionally it seems to have, how shall one say? [he stops in difficulty; turning to Orsini-Rosenberg] How shall one say, Director?

    ORSINI-ROSENBERG: Too many notes, Your Majesty?

    EMPEROR: Exactly. Very well put. Too many notes.

    MOZART: I don't understand. There are just as many notes, Majesty, as are required. Neither more nor less.

    EMPEROR: My dear fellow, there are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening. I think I'm right in saying that, aren't I, Court Composer?

    SALIERI: Yes! yes! er, on the whole, yes, Majesty.

    MOZART: But this is absurd!

    EMPEROR: My dear, young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Cut a few and it will be perfect.

    MOZART: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?

    EMPEROR: Well. There it is.

  6. Obv. these students are geniuses, dntyaknw. Frls. Srsly.

  7. Wonderful dyspeptic memos--thank you.

  8. Dyspepsia never looked so good. I wish you could actually send these answers. Couldn't you?



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