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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


All this time, I thought it was me.

I have had a painful couple of weeks. I get a lot of negative feedback in my practicum, and get really weird reactions. I also get some weird feedback in the class I am taking. So, I have been trying to figure out what I am doing to motivate these responses and what I should be doing differently. The problem is that I am not on the pro-shrinky train of late, so it is not exactly a dispassionate wondering.

A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with the prof of the course I am taking. We needed to talk about my paper (well, she indicated a need - I had no need because I didn't have time to put into it). She said in the meeting that it seemed like I knew a lot about the course content, and that I ought to take on more of a teaching stance about it.

I took this to mean that I was being a know-it-all and I needed to shut up and stop blabbering on and being antagonistic. I then watched my behaviors in class, wrote notes to myself to shut up and stop talking in class, and would apologize if I commented in a way that I thought might have caused other students to feel I was contradicting them. I have been plagued with worry and anxiety about this, and it has made me more hesitant and more worried about talking.

I am very chatty in classes, which is funny because until grad school, I never ever talked in class. I remember one prof taking me aside and begging me to talk because we kept a journal in the class, and he liked some of the things I wrote. Now I can't get myself to shut up.

Last night another student from the class and I went to a panel discussion (that was super bizarre at times - I have never heard the term "industrial complex" used to modify so many institutions). She asked me about the "dynamic" between the professor of the class and me. All I knew was that I felt as though she thought everything I sad was stupid and wrong, and that it was giving me an industrial complex. I asked the other student what she thought I was contributing to this "dynamic" and told her about the feedback the prof had given me.

The other student told me that I do not talk too much, I don't say stupid things, and that I don't come across as a know-it-all. I take that with a grain of salt, as I don't know if she would be straightforward with me - I don't know her well enough to gauge. But then she told me that what she saw was the professor denigrating, dismissing, and contradicting everything I say in there.

I'm not crazy! And I may not suck as much as I think!

Last week in class we were to bring a paragraph of our paper for everyone to read and critique - aloud (yeah, it was FUN). When we got to mine, the prof said that I tended to use two words when just one would suffice (like "love" and "dependence") and that it was such a writing "tendency" that it "lulled" the readers and caused them to stop paying attention. We then had to go through and note every time I used two words to describe something and I was asked if I really needed both words. After a couple times of this, I wanted to scream. I got it! I could look for that on my own and decide. I started spiraling into I-suck-land and felt like I was a horrible writer.

Then I was thinking later, was there any reason to make such a huge thing out of it? Why not just say, "Oh hey, I don't know if you are aware of it or not, but at least in this paragraph, you keep using two words to modify another one." Was it really necessary to make it out to be this huge horrible tendency that "lulls" people?

Because honestly, and part of this is my own damned fault and my own damned neuroses, when I went home, I felt miserable. Luckily, I pulled out a bunch of my reading and found that I DON'T actually tend to do that. I just wrote that paragraph in a hurry.

Are faculty in shrink-type programs crazier than faculty in others?


At 12:26 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

I'm glad you got some reassurance that it's not you. Come join the rest of us on the pro-Shrinky train :)

At 1:33 AM, Blogger Breena Ronan said...

Hey, having professors that aren't well socialized can make anyone feel a little weird. At least you got some good information from that other student, it's so easy to misinterpret things if you don't have enough info.

At 8:48 AM, Blogger BrightStar said...

I'm not in a shrink-type program, and I'm pretty crazy. :)

Actually, I'd like to think I'm not crazy, but I probably am...

I really think it's icky that the prof would perseverate on such a point in a students' writing in front of others. First of all, like you said, it's not like you ALWAYS do it. Everyone does something like that once or twice. Secondly, say it once and move on and focus on ideas and content, you know? Ugh.


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