You know, sometimes I realize that when I tell people that I’m a math professor, they just figure that I’m a random sociopath who decided to be more socially acceptable than either a serial killer or a politician. I sometimes think that they might be right when I find myself thinking things like “Hey! Those students look bored, so I should give them something really tricky to torture their brains with.” I only hurt them because I care.
I also have had a few students who have rubbed me the wrong way this quarter. Including multiple instances of people who tried to convince me that “Math is proof of intelligent design.” I managed to keep my cool, but I really wanted to scream: “Yes, it was intelligently designed BY HUMANS!” Seriously, math doesn’t require faith, it requires reason. I ended up getting a math degree BECAUSE I wasn’t satisfied taking answers on faith, and I kept asking “but why does it work” in the face of answers like “look, just trust that this stuff works”. *huff*huff*huff* It is pretty hard to offend me anymore, but I get irked by stupid creationists trying to hijack my discipline. And honestly, nobody is buying the “Intelligent Design isn’t creationism” schtick. I have no problem with faith. Faith is just belief in something in absence of proof. Knowledge is belief in something with proof. And stupidity is belief in contradiction to proof. Don’t like my characterizations? Good. If you got angry it may be that part of you is uncomfortable believing in something important without looking at all the sides. Either clean up your illogical beliefs, or stop bothering me with your bullshit.
Okay. I don’t know if it’s the changing of the seasons, S.A.D., watching the insane Tea-Party-Tantrum-government-shutdown, or dealing with students who feel like work should be optional, but I’ve been feeling misanthropic for the last few days. While I certainly wouldn’t act on any of these fantasies, I have to admit they do help keep the smile on my face some days.
Pro-tip: never let them see the contempt shine from behind your eyes.
So, here are some of my favorite teaching fantasies.
- A student asks for help, and I ask to look at their work. Of course, they haven’t even started the question. I can just pat them on the shoulder and say, “well, at least you’re pretty” and walk away.
- When I call for questions in class and get blank looks, I want to pick a student at random, say “really?” and assign them the final exam on the spot.
- When as student sends me a message after missing class and asks if they needed to know anything, I would love to send them a links to unemployment websites.
- Bring a trained puma to class. Without making reference to the puma but holding onto its leash, I would like to ask each student as they entered the class if they had completed their assigned work yet.
- I want a cattle prod for when I catch students texting in class. Or a taser. Or access to their Junior High yearbook photos.
- Publicly kick out the most apathetic student in class. A week later, show up wearing a new leather jacket with that student’s tattoos on it.
I love my job, but sometimes I have to work hard to keep my fangs in check.