So I've got a studentwho is... well, this student clearly has a lot of things to say. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. We all hope that students have lots of things to say and have a desire to contribute. But from the first day, this student has been trying to shout me down. And to shout the other students down. Clearly the loudest voice wins, right?
Well. Not on my watch. Not in my classroom. Not since my first semester on the tenure track, no way.
One of the most important lessons I ever learned, as a youngish (still the youngest, as far as I can tell, many hires in) professor in my department in that first year on the tenure track, was that I could never afford to let a small group or an individual within the class dominate. Because the moment that I did that my authority was compromised; the moment that I did that , all those students who don't seek to dominate would be silenced. My mistake my first semester in was that I thought if I ignored it that it would go away. It didn't, and the other students hated me for it (or pitied me for it, which may have been worse).
So I'm no longer the naive young lass who tried to ignore the dominator (or dominators). I talk back. I refuse to accept that person's (or group of people's) opinion, if it is wrong-headed. My hope is that I model how to resist, for those students who feel dominated. My hope is also that the person who attempts to shout me down realizes a) that I'm the motherfucking professor and that no matter what their assertions are that mine count more, because, you know, I've got a PhD and I'm the motherfucking instructor of the course and I give them their grade, and b) that other people's voices in the class matter exactly as much - if not more - than theirs does.
But you know what? If I could wish for one thing and one thing only? I would wish that those who think they are going to dominate, or that they have the right to dominate, or who think that I'm not up to the challenge of managing them and indicating that they should fuck right off, would just go take a class that is not mine. I do not relish beating them down - I don't enjoy it, and I don't think it's good for the other students in the class to see it, really. I wish all of the dominators would congregate, would fight to the death, and that would be that. I hate having to show them who's boss. Mainly because it's a waste of my motherfucking time.
4 years ago