Monday, November 23, 2009

Hey Texas State U, I want my money back, you jerk.

I wrote this little number about a year ago but never posted it because I felt like an asshole. There’s still a little nugget of karmic fear in its publication, but hey, I’m uninspired right now, and I’ve already spent too much time staring at a blank Word document. Besides, I’m not going to be a teacher anyway, so karma’s just going to have to kick me in the balls or something if the universe is to balance out.

I’d like to regurgitate a small resentment that’s been festering in my heart for some time. So, a reason for my directionless plight of so long is because an English degree standing alone is only an intrinsic reward, as I mentioned once upon a time. Initially, I was going to be teacher certified, so I could enjoy the same high school disrespect that I offered to my teachers in the 90s. I quickly discovered that the renowned teacher certification program at Texas State University is a joke. The two classes that I took, and I’ll be singling out instructors in a few sentences to come, were a complete waste of time, all exaggeration aside, I can’t think of a single useful thing I learned in either class. The first of my Curriculum & Instruction classes was taught by a very nice man named Hal. Professor Hal was genial and entertaining, but he didn’t know the material beyond his interesting personal experiences as a teacher and principal. His test reviews were his tests, verbatim, and they required almost no memorization or utilization of study habits. Again, I liked the man, but he struck me as a fellow who was placed at the head of a class whose subject he understood through years of experience but didn’t understand the science behind his knowledge. The second C&I class was taught by a man named Christopher L. Sisto. Unlike Professor Hal, Sisto was a complete idiot. His lectures involved the literal reading of the textbook. That’s it. He was an extraordinarily lazy educator, who reminded me more of a high school coach than a real man. Fine. I could have just quietly despised him if I were able to simply skip his class and show for tests, but the strict Education Department policy, which he arbitrarily enforced, established an entire letter grade drop after three unexcused absences, and I had no choice but to sit in his classroom and squirm with outrage. So to my immediate regret, I dropped the certification part of my English degree and have suffered financial hardship ever since.
But the gold medal for the world’s shittiest teacher goes to a man not in Texas State’s Education Dept. but the English Department. His name is John Hill, and if he’s not dead from old age, retired, or beaten to death by a seriously disappointed student, avoid his class. At the beginning of my college career at Texas State, I noticed an interesting class called “The Concord Writers” in the school’s catalog. It wasn’t offered ever semester, so I was delighted to find an opening in both my schedule and the school’s, allowing me to enroll. I brazening skipped almost the entire semester, showing for maybe eight days of class in the four months of schooling. Why, you ask? Because Dr. Hill was an even lazier teacher than Sisto, but he was tenured and involved with many English- and Academic-related committees for the school. This academic involvement left him untouchable in his position, and we never, never discussed any of the Concord writers in his Concord Writers class. The preferred topic was Paris Hilton or Britney Spears. No shit. The closest thing to covering Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Melville were questions like, “What kind of car do you think Thoreau would drive today?” to which an idiot student (much to my distress) replied, “I think he would have driven a Prius because he liked nature.” We only had two grades in Hill’s class: two papers at 40% and 60%. I received A’s on both but got a B in the class, probably for attendance. I never complained about any of my teachers. I regarded it as bad karma, and I didn’t want to be responsible for their losing their jobs, but after all these years, I still feel cheated, so I thought I’d at least mention it, here, on my low platform.

Update: Dr. John Hill retired in 2008, and Christopher L. Sisto is now Senior Lecturer. Professor Hal is still at large.


Heather said...

What a waste of time and money. It is a shame that some teachers can be untouchable even though they are real bad at it.

Was that the Aggies or Longhorns?

Jillian W said...

I took Hill too and I can attest that he was as terrible as you say. If it wasnt the snarky fireside chats with grandpa, then he was spewing anti-semitic crap about Ivy Leagues. Sooooooo glad he's retired!

C. Andres Alderete said...

Heather, it was the Bobcats. UT and A&M have their own morons.

Jillian, thank you for your testimony. I'd forgotten about the Ivy Leagues.

Dreamfarm Girl said...

A year ago, I thought I might like to leave my nonprofit job and put my English degree to a different use by becoming a high school teacher. I jumped through myriad hurdles to apply to Tx State to get that certification. I paid a fair amount of money. I suffered through the online registration. Finally the day came of my first online certification class. I read the extensive class instructions. The first assignment was *a TEST on the syllabus*! (Aren't we all adults here? This was a graduate class!) And it was completely annoying because it was a test from a previous semester but some of the processes had changed and the information to answer the questions was no where to be found. Good god! Then, the first "real" assignment was to read and comment on a journal article on "How Teenagers Destroy the Family." Wow, what a way to encourage your students that they want to be surrounded by said teenagers for hours on end. I quit by the end of Day 2 when I could still get 80% of my money back. Did I mention how much I now love my nonprofit job?

I think you deserve good karma for 1) suffering through it all and 2) warning others. Good on ya!

Bash said...

Having bad, incompetent professors prepares you for having bad, incompetent coworkers.

C. Andres Alderete said...

I'm glad it worked out for you, Dreamfarm Girl. You're better off. Teenagers are monsters, after all.

Mr. Bash, I'm ankle deep in incompetence, and the shit is rising.

C. Andres Alderete said...

A friend's comment from Facebook that I thought I'd share:
Hill's American Lit class was the first English one I took at Texas State, and I eventually dropped it after signing a petition to have him removed. There were so many people sleeping that it made the classroom feel like a bus station.

Chrissy said...

Beware the tenured academician.

carma said...

Do you mean Prof. Hal is at some other fine learning institution in parts unknown teaching verbatim from tests? This was quite an entertaining post; glad you decided to allow it to see the light of day :D

f8hasit said...

Crazy that there are some who feel that they are educators and yet then by their example make some people decide against education.

I had a teacher that wrote on my paper, "Is English your second language?" Plus she wanted 'fresh' ideas...yet failed me because my idea had yet to be conceived. Hmmmm.

Sorry you had that experience, however you and I know they could never, ever be as smart as you.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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