Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I'm a huge fan of not making waves. Don't attract attention unless it's for a stellar paper or a test with nothing missed. If you have problems with the teacher/class wait until the semester is over and talk to the Dean. Learn how to cope with that horrible teacher. Don't say anything to antagonize them and make it worse.

That's how I've operated successfully for quite a long time now. Until yesterday.

You see, I finally feel that I have established a loose toe-hold on chemistry. It was trying to elude me but now I have grabbed that icky hairy toe and I am not letting go. But chemistry lab is a totally different monster. At first it lulled me into thinking I had it-I actually love typing up lab reports and who doesn't understand how to weigh something 10 times because we need to make sure we know precisely what it weighs?

But then they-professors, TA's, I'm not sue who "they" is-started throwing labs at us out of sequence. And the lectures were not lining up with the labs. And the introductory explanation of the labs DO NOT MAKE SENSE if you haven't had a previous lecture/lab. I would've also included previous chemistry experience but even the smart guys in our class were flummoxed by this lab. So it wasn't just me and my complete lack of previous chemistry exposure. Oh-I forgot to mention that this Lab Manual would receive a failing grade if it were turned in to any English teacher. Heck, my history teachers would probably fail it too because there are complete paragraphs that DO NOT MAKE SENSE. There are words, there are concepts, but the writer has spectacularly failed to connect them.

And last night Damm couldn't understand the material. If he doesn't understand then I'm completely lost. So I was really, really frustrated. And neither of us could answer the Pre-Lab questions. I felt I needed to put something there so I wrote two nice paragraphs listed all of my grievances about the class. I thought I composed it quite nicely; you can tell my tone is one of frustration but I didn't think it sounded like I was whining. It was quite cathartic writing those paragraphs.

And then we get to our Lab and the TA announces he is going to help/give us the answers for the Pre-Lab. Bother. So I added another paragraph thanking him for helping us blah blah blah. He's nice, really-I just can't understand his accent. And he's a TA so none of my problems are with him. Damm explained for me (I try not to interact with the chemistry people because I have strong feelings about how inexpertly they've put this program together) my nice little paragraphs. TA pipes up laughing about another of my explanations in another experiment. He actually reads them. And I have been noticed. And here I am, handing in some nice little inflammatory remarks.

Bother. Truly.

And my last grievance, which I did not include in my written diatribe, is that I do not feel our professor would give credence to my complaints/concerns. Based on her past reactions to students with complaints/questions about her and anything she has worked on she would most likely pass the blame back to me and get extremely defensive and passive-aggressive. So there is no recourse.

Ah. Typing this up was also cathartic. FYI, I love both my MALE history professors. Ok, that's not fair. I've had female history professors who were beyond amazing. But it does seem that more often than not it's the females who get defensive and aggressive when you try to talk to them. To be fair, they've probably been stepped on a lot in the academic world. But who thinks of that when they're passing along that frustration to you? And not all female prof's are like that. I don't know. I don't need to analyze behavior.

I need to try and grab a leg on that chemistry monster.

1 comment:

scott said...

Some people will look at criticism as a way to improve, and some people will look at criticism as a personal attack.

I still have to deal with it some 15 years into my engineering career. Personally, I think it has more to do with maturity and self-awareness than anything like gender.