The Maniacal Rant of a Community College “Professor”
To begin this blog, I’d like to touch on why I decided to write it. I have long been skeptical of blog-writing, but at the age of 40, it’s time for me to abandon my fears.
I am an unemployed college instructor, a teacher of rhetoric, argument, and literature. I am unwanted by my school, and I cannot find further work as a teacher. I am a writer, which is a profession that historically provides less hope of financial success than even that of a teacher. There is little incentive to continue on this chosen path.
However, I cannot abandon the writer from my persona. It has been difficult to discontinue my identity of teacher, so I must find an outlet. I write to teach, and I taught as a writer. I did not lose my teaching job because I was a bad teacher. My students provided enough assurances, through their words and performances, that I was, at minimum, a proficient instructor. I met the requirements of my institution’s standards, and I fulfilled my duties to the best of my ability.
I did not dislike my students, as so many of my peers intimated on a daily basis. My fellow teachers bad-mouthed their students. The shared stories of how stupid individual students acted, along with grandiose tales of the magnificence of their pedantic lessons, became insufferable to me. I liked my students; in fact, I loved them. I considered a teacher who insulted her students behind their backs to be unethical…a teacher should never give up on her students, because a teacher fails when she considers her student to be hopeless, to be unable to elevate one’s self. The majority of teachers with which I worked enjoyed berating their students. I found it distasteful. I progressively looked forward to engaging with my students in the classroom rather than running into my fellow teachers in the hallways.
I did not dislike teaching. I love to teach. It is fulfilling, and I felt I had found my niche. For the better part of a decade, I taught my community. I operated under the illusion that I filled an important and necessary role for the betterment of my country and its members.
I lost my position because a coalition of my fellow teachers and administrators collaborated to remove me from my adjunct position. The facts lead me to believe the motive was jealousy and spite. I know that several of them felt that my pedagogy was too controversial. I know that a few felt that I should restrict myself to teaching classes strictly as a mechanical course, sticking to grammar lessons, spelling errors, and formatting. I know that most of the members of this alliance did not appreciate my propensity for challenging the institution’s flaws and individuals’ mistakes.
Because I am in a committed relationship with another college instructor, I am prevented from continuing my career. I have been in this relationship for as long as I have worked for the institution, and we have not made it a secret to anybody. The highest-level administrators knew about this relationship, from the start of both of our tenures. However, my peers decided to report to Human Resources about this relationship, citing a flawed policy that prevents sexual relationships in the workplace, and I find myself removed…not because I am a bad teacher, but because apparently, policies are not meant to be broken…even when they are antithetical to the institution’s mission.
I taught, despite the fact that I was not making a living wage, despite the fact that I was teaching a full-time load at part-time pay rates. Essentially, I taught classes for less than the minimum wage rate of the state, when you include the hours spent outside of the classroom. These outside hours are included when calculating how many hours are worked in regard to the changes made by the Affordable Care Act, but when it comes to a paycheck, instructors are paid according to how many hours they spend in the classroom.
Suffice to say, the social norm that has been established is to keep teachers in their place. Teach because it is vital, but don’t teach with expectations of survival.
The institutional impediments that have been established and continue to surface at my school and my state (Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana, respectively) prevent me from performing my professional duties. I am prevented from contributing because of the established policies of the collegiate institution. I suppose I should feel humiliated—and I do, on several psychological levels—but I have never been one to “know my place.” I’d like to lie and say I’m not bitter, but the fact is I’m rather resentful, which fuels my decision to write a blog.
The internet provides a viable alternative. I am a writer, first and foremost. As a teacher, I wrote my lessons daily. As a blog writer, I can continue to teach my community, without institutional impediments. I can write daily and continue to fulfill the aspect of my identity that yearns to return to teaching others. I can share what I have discovered in my tenure. I can share what I have discovered since I have become unemployed. I can share what I have discovered about myself and my community.
Survival is ultimately less important. Continuing to teach, by writing this blog, has become vital.
There’s quite a bit of stupidity in this country. I have witnessed so many illogical statements and idiotic tendencies. The problem is that the stupidity is coming out of the mouths of America’s authority figures, and it’s being perpetuated by the recipients, who are America’s citizens. Business executives, journalists, politicians, small business owners, and especially our teachers keep contributing to the dumbing-down of our nation. Simply, we are breeding a culture that promotes stupidity over intellectualism, and I am sick of living in a country where the elder idiots get to tell the youth that they know better than them, simply because they are in positions of authority and wealth, where they can drown out any intelligent opposition with greater numbers.
I have found one of the most distasteful aspects of being an English teacher is the illusion that an English teacher only knows how to correct grammar and spelling. The reality is that a teacher of language has to know a little bit of everything…a jack-of-all-trades, yet master-of-none. The challenge of an educator is to engage with students about all of the disciplines found under the authority of the college spectrum. The challenge of a writer is to learn for one’s self all of the potential topics and issues that might be encountered in the social arena. I have concentrated my studies and pedagogy towards engaging with others who live under a wide social umbrella, and I have learned enough to write intelligibly about many social issues. This blog will operate by engaging with most argumentative issues.
My goal is not to contribute to the stupidity, but instead combat it.
I want to contribute to my community, but I understand that most of my community will not be receptive to my opinions. It’s going to take some courage, but I must commit stubbornly in order not to succumb to the tidal wave of popular opinion. The scariest thing about the internet continues to be the exposure of aggressive language, which often proves to be illogical and wrong. Furthermore, the internet proves that there are a majority of people that want to bully others into accepting premises as legitimate.
I vow not to be bullied by the majority of internet trolls, and I pledge to maintain my stance, unless I am proven wrong by logical counterarguments. I am willing to retract any claims, if I am proven to be wrong. This is the best deterrent of stupidity: a willingness to admit fallibility.
I admitted earlier that I am a somewhat bitter man. I will not write as one who suppresses his emotions. Good writing needs to be expressive, and my goal is to maintain my readers’ interest. This blog will feature my developed writing voice, which is not necessarily a strict academic voice. I am no longer affiliated with an institution, which seems to be designed to stifle, instead of thrive. I am committed to writing using my voice, even if it invites criticism, especially from other academics, who often prove to be so immersed in academic conventions that they cannot adequately represent an opposition to the aforementioned stupidity.
Although, I suspect many readers assume that blog writers expect to become rich (as I have seen expressed multiple times after researching blogs), I promise you that I have no illusions of becoming rich. I’ve lived most of my life below the poverty line, and I’ve gotten used to it. That’s not to say that I am comfortable living this way, but I have learned that becoming rich is not a realistic outcome.
What I hope to accomplish is create a base of readers that appreciate my daily ranting to the point that they would be willing to donate yearly…to subscribe to my writing so that I can maintain a daily writing regimen. I do not ask for riches; I ask for a living wage. A suggested subscription donation of $20 for a year’s worth of reading would work; if I could find 1,000 readers willing to donate, then this is a sufficient annual income.
If you are willing to donate, then please consider sending a donation to:
Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360
I believe a few things. 1) I despise “clicking” money away in today’s economy. PayPal has made it too easy to make impulse decisions, and too many people get into financial dire straits because of the convenience of the internet. I would like my readers to make a conscious, cognitive decision to contribute to my business endeavor. I do not want to trick readers into making an impulse decision. 2) I see the struggles of the United States Postal Service. I have many friends who work for the Postal Service, and I want to support its continued existence. I also would like to invite readers to print a letter with your donations, to which I will be more than happy to create a written response. 3) As my stance on the USPS might indicate, I am an advocate of contributing taxes to my government. It seems to be assumed that lower taxes are better for individual citizens, but I don’t subscribe as readily to this social norm. I advocate a sustainable government that provides services and agencies that help its citizens eat, learn, and sustain their pursuit of happiness in this country. Mind you, I do not support abuses of public expenditures for frivolous government programs; I might submit that most abuses of our country’s wealth come from the public sector more than our government. I’ll touch on this throughout this blog’s existence. If you submit a donation to my blog’s creation, then I promise to report it appropriately at tax time. Furthermore, I will provide a written receipt for your donation appropriately, if requested with your donation.
In the future, I might seek sponsors to help fund the continuation of this blog, but I must first generate content for review and a readership that can be tallied. My goal at the start-up of this blog is a modest 1,000 readers willing to donate. Please consider assisting me towards this goal in the year 2014.
Thank you for any donations. Thank you also for your consideration. I look forward to providing thoughtful and thought-provoking rhetoric for your perusal.
Scott C. Guffey