Evil League of Teachers, now EXTRA STABBY!

Many changes are incremental: one, two, three…

Some changes are more transformative: one, two, chrysalis, butterfly…

Evil Butterfly

I’m hoping that the Evil League of Teachers is out of it’s plodding phase, and is moving into its chrysalis.   Soon, we can be a beautiful butterfly, spreading doom even as we pollinate young minds.   Which is to say, I’m making some changes to our site that will hopefully transform us into a powerhouse of EVIL!   READY FOR WORLD DOMINATION!!!  Just after I get my coffee.

Some things will never change, of course.   Students occasionally learn their lessons the hard way after they discover that procrastination is not a winning strategy.  And teachers learn from their students (hopefully) new winning strategies for their students.  Which is to say that learning isn’t always easy, and requires a healthy dose of humility from time to time.   Which sucks, because I’m not especially humble.

Which is why I’m here a the end of the week, and I’m feeling extra STABBY.

Partially because I’m being pushed out of my comfort zone (which is good), but also for more personal reasons.*   But I will say, this is about growing.  Busting out of caterpillar status, and moving on to be a scary evil butterfly!  And now I’m going to lay this belabored butterfly metaphor to rest.

So you can continue to count on continued things like finals week playlists, midterm misanthropy, student and teacher horoscopes, as well as our going critical (critical thinking) segments.  We can look forward to some new things like confessions from an ex-corporate whore, more teaching advice from a dominatrix, and maybe (let’s say it softly) a new blogger or two? The Evil League of Teachers marches on,  with a new look,  weapons-grade sarcasm, and extra stabbiness!

Now go forth, educate, and use your powers for whatever the hell you want to… they are your powers.

 

 

*Honestly, I don’t like it when the people I love get sick, and there is nothing I can do to help them feel better.   It’s a kind of helpless feeling.   Also, migraines suck.

Midterm Misanthropy: “So Unfair”

How could I resist following up a post on critical thinking and bias with a rant about students.

The ones who are currently burning my bacon are the ones who are crying “it’s not fair!”   Why?   Why do some students cry “unfair?”   For some reason not giving special consideration  is “unfair”.  This level of entitlement just perplexes me… although I see it happening more and more frequently.

Do you even syllabus?Some of my students think that I am quite cruel (incidentally, ALL of these have happened within the last 6 months):

  • I’m unfair for requiring attendance;
  • I’m unfair for not taking late work (from unexcused absences);
  • I’m unfair for making students answer their homework questions (rather than just trying), and show their work, and include units;
  • I’m unfair for requiring students to check their work, after I announced it in class;
  • I’m unfair for making students take tests after they were absent;
  • I’m unfair for requiring doctor’s notes after a week long absence;
  • I’m unfair for not reteaching a day’s lecture and supplying notes for a student who was absent;
  • I’m unfair for not allowing calculators on tests (in a basic math class);
  • I’m unfair for not allowing notes on tests;
  • I’m unfair for not allowing cellphones to be used as calculators;
  • I’m unfair for failing students who REALLY NEED to pass, but couldn’t be bothered to attend class regularly, turn in homework, or show up for tests.

 

There are times I have to wonder:   am I really teaching college students?   I will admit, most of my students look at their fellows strangely when they ask for these things.   But there is a certain type of student who never matured past their early teenage years it seems…

So with that in mind, here are my midterm misanthropic teaching fantasies:

  • For my teenage students who feel put upon by homework, I want them to understand the grim reality of “day-in, day-out” with employment.   And how failure to do the work can mean unemployment.
  • I have been seriously tempted to tell students who ask “do I need to show up for the test?” with “You’re a grownup.  You can decide whether you want to pass or not.”
  • When someone asks if they missed anything in class, I want to say “Yes, fill this out,” and hand them an application for McTuckyFried Bell.
  • I have an extended kidnapping-and-interrogation fantasy for students ask “do I need to know this?”   Basically I want to my quizzes administered with waterboarding as motivation.
  • I want to have an anti-whining drone in my classroom.   Armed with digitalis-darts to paralyze whiners.
  • I want an oubliette,  for educational purposes, of course.

 

I will not kill my students and wear their skin.   I will not kill my students and wear their skin.   I will not kill my students and wear their skin…

 

Reflections on being an Evil Genius

without evil

 

I’m an evil genius, and proud of it.

Is that vain of me?  Probably.  Do I care what you think?   You may want to ask if  I respect you enough to care about your opinion.   If so, I will listen to you.   I may not change, but I will listen.   In all honesty, I strive for the “evil” part of this equation.  Being a genius is a documented fact  (the byproduct of lucky genetics and having effective education), and is nothing to be especially proud of.

The difference between being Evil and being Bad

To me there is a huge difference between being evil, and just being bad.

I equate being “bad” with being ineffectual, lazy, dull, inane, stupid, or willfully ignorant.  Bad people are the kind of people who never admit to being wrong, or even worse, they never doubt that they are right (regardless of the facts).   Bad people will harm others without a second thought.  Selfishness, apathy, uncaring and disinterest are traits of bad people, but evil is … different.

Evil isn’t passive, it is engaged.   An active, intelligent force that will adapt itself to overcome obstacles.   Evil truly CARES!

Evil may be sadistic, but it is sadistic with an intention beyond the simple infliction of pain.  Every hurt is aimed at crafting some greater goal. The glee that you feel from being evilly sadistic isn’t just for the sake of the pain, but for the direction it is taking you.

Ultimately, it challenges the very foundations of what you believe and accept.   When it hits an obstacle, it will adapt.   When it hits a boundary, evil will test it to it’s limits.   Yes, being evil is impolite, but evil never rests.   Evil is self reflective, loathing its own weaknesses and striving to overcome them.   Yes, evil people often times have a rapier wit that can leave others bleeding, but they will direct it at themselves as much as others.

I think that why people don’t like evil is because growing hurts.

On being Good, and why being good can be bad

Being a good person is supportive, empathic, caring, and often nurturing.   There is nothing wrong with this on the surface, we all need care and support!

The problem arises when people are thoughtlessly good, and end up supporting bad behavior.   Actions borne out of the desire to help often do harm.   With the best of intentions, you can make people weaker by removing obstacles that will make them grow.    Empathy that cannot bear to see a person hurt, robs another person of the growth that comes from overcoming pain.     Nurturing that is aimed at building another person up, can have the effect of creating dependence and weakness.

Have you seen what happens to kids with “helicopter” parents?    The kids will never know that they can fail if they don’t do enough.   Mediocre efforts are awarded high praise.   In the worst cases, spoiled children turn into spoiled adults.   The entitlement these people feel is horrible and revolting.

Personally, I think every child should have skinned knees and burned fingers … sometimes.   And for the spoiled adults:  I personally want to watch them forced with the choice of feeding themselves or going to the doctor because they are dangerously sick.   Irony sucks, doesn’t it?

Love is Evil

“Love” is an emotion that people try to paint as a happy emotion, the pinnacle of all emotions.   Some folks equate love with companionship, but selfishly clinging to another out of fear of loneliness isn’t love.   Jealousy isn’t a symptom of love either, it is simply a symptom of insecure neuroses.   Many people make that mistake.    Love does not demand to be returned,  loneliness and desire do.

Love isn’t desire, it isn’t sex, and you won’t always recognize it when you see it.

The painful truth is that love has a dark side.

The truth about love?     Love is not always kind to those who feel it.   To truly love means to care deeply, but not impose your own needs or desires on the loved.   It means to desire the happiness and well-being of another, without regard to our own happiness.  Love is not blind, it makes you see the flaws of another and forces you to accept them.   It forces you to grow… and if you are lucky, you can be a part of that other persons life and you can both become better, but only at the other persons behest.    Love only feels good when you love someone and are loved back.

To experience love is to accept uncomfortable truths about ourselves.   Love hurts so good.   It is often painful, occasionally harmful, and it will push your limits.

Love will either make you grow, or it will break you in the process.   And that is why I say that love is evil.

Think about it.

[…]

Which brings me back to my original statement:   I am an evil genius,  and proud of it.

Love is evil, and sometimes, evil is love.   So when I say I’m an evil math professor, I’m really saying that I care and I want my students to be happy and succeed.   And even though I am exasperated at times, I am happy you are in my life.   Thank you.   I only hurt you because I care.

 

 

P.S.    Yes, I know I’m not using the dictionary definitions of good, bad, and evil.    These are reflections on my own idiosyncratic thinking.      I also make these conceptional distinctions between the ideas of  cute, pretty, attractive, and beautiful.    Or the distinctions between smart, clever, and wise.

I probably think too much.   *shrug*   I like my brain.

Teaching Dreams

My students share with me when they have math dreams.    Sometimes they make students anxious, some make students feel like they are smarter… I tell my students it is a reflection that they have math on the brain.   I don’t know how the theories of mind intersect with dreams, but I know that I had math frequently when I was in school.    It was pretty common for me to fall asleep over calculus that was stumping me, dreamed I was doing math,  then woken up gotten it right.

Generally my teaching dreams are pretty prosaic:  some simple anxiety dreams rehashing student discipline, or  imagining the first day, or even just dreaming of the homework burn barrel in class.

Last week I dreamed about waterboarding students at school with another teacher.   It was interesting, because the other teacher (in her teacher voice) was explaining in great detail:  (1) why waterboarding was torture and how it was morally repugnant; (2) how to effectively and efficiently waterboard.    We hooded and zip-tied a student to a table, tipped one end, applied water and… voilà.   We violated the human rights of a student.

So please, turn in your homework on time.

One of the other off-the-wall teaching dreams involve teaching students how to solve equations.   Whenever the students tried to divide by zero, they shot off into space.    I did use my scary teacher voice.

I like my brain.

Finals Week Playlist 10

Okay, the time has come once again for final exams.   I will also admit, that grading has kicked my ass this quarter.   I have been swamped with student papers.   There are times that I can detach myself from the student’s work, and just grade… but sometimes it is difficult.   Sometimes I take it personally.

There are times I want to stab offending questions with my red pen, hoping that that error never occurs again.   And yet it appears over and over, like some monstrous mockery of mathematics, preying on another victim.

I’ll keep up the good fight.     I don’t want to speculate on why aggressive music and horror movies are my medium of choice to listen to while grading.   Perhaps it is because it suits the whole bloody business.   Or maybe it’s just what suits my personality.

Here is another finals week playlist.

  • Combichrist – Throat full of glass
  • Saliva – Click Click Boom
  • Godsmack – Voodoo
  • Johnny Cash – Hurt
  • Skinny Puppy – Pro-Test
  • Emilie Autumn – One Foot in Front of the other
  • Seether – Fake it
  • Saliva – Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Death*Star – The Quick and the Dead
  • Paint – Cups (Extreme edition)

 

As for folks who follow my blog – thank you for your patience.   I know I’ve been squirrelly this quarter.

But I’ll be coming out swinging in Winter quarter.

 

Grrrrrrading

Whenever my students complain about the amount of work that I assign them, I remind them that while they have to do them once, I get to do them 35 times.    At which point they laugh and get to feel nominally better about the whole proposition.

So let me back up a bit.    Most quarters I get to use some online homework, but it looks like my (free) system deactivated my account after the site was hacked.   So I’m back to all paper homework for the quarter.   I scheduled myself some time to deal with it… and I’m still a little swamped.

I did a marathon grading session today.  I also watched a horror movie marathon at the same time.     I’m not sure whether the screen or student papers had more red on them.    I know for certain that I was more distressed by my quizzes than I was by zombies.

Mmmmm…. Headshots are pretty.

Soothing, soothing violence.

 

Syllabi

So I’ve been incommunicado for the last few weeks.    Sorry about that, life happens, and sometimes internet connections are squirrely.   My summer has been a good one:   bungee jumping,  travel, Netflix marathons, playing my way through a few video games, and parties that I can never discuss with my students.    I have to admit that I’m ready to go back to school though.

I’ve been neck deep in writing my syllabi last week.    I like to make certain that everything is in place for the coming term:   planning the lecture schedule, homework, acts of cruelty, classroom policies, and other classroom tweaks.    One of the questions I have to ask:   how evil will it be?   Online homework, or paper?   Do I give bonus points?   What should I make them sing if their cell phone goes off in class?   How much flex time can I build in?

Spelling things out explicitly in the syllabus is a very helpful tool for instructors and for students.   I make sure to spell out everything from classroom expectations, grading scales, and the ever important disclaimer “classroom policies may be changed to suit the needs of the class or the instructor.”

I feel a little like I’m laying traps for my students.

They are waiting for me at school now.

 

Game on.

Student Horoscopes

Alphone Mucha - Zodiac 1896

Ah, Spring term is over and Summer is in the air… responsibilities seem so far away.   Now that those pesky final exams are out of the way.

Now, for a completely random segment let us have your student horoscope for next term.

Aries (March 21 – April 20) 

You are plagued by a feeling that you are missing something, like you were supposed to be in class for the entire term, but somehow you didn’t put it on your schedule.      I’m not saying that feeling is true or not, but I think you will want to check.     Check again, you may have missed something.

After that, you should read your syllabi to determine whether you missed a paper or a test.    Also check to see if you are wearing pants.

Taurus  (April 21 – May 21)

Crunch time is your time to shine.   You will find yourself reworking a project from start to finish after finding a minor error after finishing the FIRST time.   This means that you neglect your other classes for a few days, and the effect snowballs.    After working 90 hours per week for a few weeks in a row, you may start to consider a career as an exotic dancer.   Before you switch please remember that thongs can itch, especially if they are full of dollar bills.

Therefore, your mantra is:   done is better than perfect.

Gemini (May 22 – June 21)

You should help out a friend in need.   This help can come in many different forms.   It may be that they are in deep need of a homework intervention, so bring tequila and a study guide.   Or it may turn out that they are in desperate need for a rebound hookup, so bring condoms (avoid tequila, because that would be rape).   Or you may need to cheer up an instructor who is buried under a three foot tall stack of grading, in which case bring two bottles of tequila and an extra red pen.

For you, the worst thing about finals will be the hangover(s).

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)

After pulling several all-night study sessions this week, you are feeling out of touch with reality.   You will have a very important conversation regarding your academics, but later on in your imagination you will replace the people of this with tropical fish.   Afterwards, you will dream of turning your papers in to your instructor, who is now a giant squid.

Once you are caught up on sleep, you will find that you can only recall your course material while humming “Aqua” songs.    There is no logical explanation for this.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

Lets say that you are on a long vacation.   You have a plan for where you are going, and some ideas about what you would like to do.   When you get there, you make a random connection with someone which was entirely unexpected.  Nothing was according to plan, but it was perfect anyway.   You fall in love, then have your heart broken a week later when you have to leave.   Years later, you still pine for that lost person, even after you have a caring and stable relationship with another person.

This is a perfect analogy for school this term, Leo.

Virgo (August 23 – September 23)

Little changes will make big differences for you.   Even though you don’t need to do it to succeed, you decide to do your homework.   All of a sudden, it all makes sense!   You understand the deeper cosmological context of the knowledge, although you know that this feeling is fleeting and ephemeral.     You know the ultimate truth, we are like dust in the wind.

It is also a good time to make up an excuse for your extended absences to your instructor.   Be creative, they probably will forget something too pedestrian.

Libra (September 24-October 23)

Your natural leadership skills come to the fore this term.   It isn’t as though you asked for greatness, it seems to be thrust upon you.   So take it easy!  You are sure that you can get someone to do the work for you if necessary.  If the work didn’t get done, you can just as easily apportion blame.   Negotiate with your teachers, but be careful in case your instructor may also be a Libra.

Now is also a great time to work on your wider academic plan.   See if you can foster the image of a mastermind, and consider running for student government.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 22)

The winds of change are blowing.  You can feel them blowing you into a new academic direction soon.    If you were studying the arts, consider a change to the sciences.    Premed and engineering students may wish to pursue business.    Business students, you may find that art and history is calling your name.    Get inspired by something.

If you are daring, you could consider taking on a second major.   Or a third.   Student loans couldn’t really be that bad, could they?

Sagittarius (November 23 – December 21)

You may have found yourself in a slightly difficult situation, but you can overcome these setbacks.   It may be that you missed a few classes, and that put you in a slightly difficult situation.   You also may have accidentally slept through a test.   Be your smartest, most charming self, and go ask for some help to get through your term.

Seducing your instructor may seem like a good idea at the time, but be prepared to be laughed at.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 20)

How do I put this delicately Capricorn?   Uranus is in a sling, so watch where you point your moon.    You are going to feel cursed, but this isn’t really what the problem is.   The problem is you.   Now is the time to set aside your ego, and ask yourself who is actually calling the shots.

The difficulty here isn’t that the world is out to get you, it is just that the world doesn’t care about you.   Stop whining, and get to work.

Aquarius (January 21 – February 19)

 Years from now you are going to look back and realize that the most important events of your life happen this term.   You won’t notice them just yet, but make a note:   Thursday at 3:20 pm.   I’m not going to tell you which Thursday.

You may want to check and see if you have a valid passport, and know where your car keys are.   Buckle up and don’t speed, and for your sanity’s sake don’t look in the trunk.

Pisces (February 20 – March 20)

You know how to get out and party.     And by party, I mean you didn’t go over your notes in three different colors, and you only do 2 revisions of your latest paper.   You may get upset by missing a question on your final, leaving you with a 95% on the test, but this will be offset by Mercury in retrograde and the fact that you have turned in every single extra credit assignment.

Your quests for the week are to do 2 of the following:    read something fiction written within the last 20 years,  get laid (be safe), play Frisbee, learn how to say “ain’t”,  or talk to a stranger.

Coming soon:   teacher horoscopes!

Finals Week Playlist 8

The term is almost over for me.   This is always bittersweet… I look will miss my students (yes, even you  ____ ), but I also look forward to getting a break from things as well.    This term I don’t have as much grading to keep up with, but I do still need a playlist of slightly snarky songs.

It helps to keep me sane.   Or my facsimile of sane, anyway.

So without further ado, here is my finals week playlist.    It is also available here on YouTube, along with last quarter’s picks.

 

Wish me luck.   Finals are coming.

Important Faculty Connections

It is late in the quarter, and minds are turning towards late-term misanthropy.   In a recent conversation I was having here on campus, I remarked how I really needed to talk to a geology professor.   You see, geology professors know the best holes that you could hide a body in.   Preferably a body which doesn’t know the meaning of homework.

After a little while, we came up with a list of the people on campus who potentially could help you to carry out a murder.   Or maybe a maiming if perhaps a maiming would be more educational.

  • Geology Professor  – Knows the best cave systems, and/or abandoned mines to dump a body
  • Geography Professor – Similar to the geology professor, with the added benefit of knowing both obscure roads as well as jurisdictional boundaries.
  • Engineering Instructors – put together an elegant deathtrap, rather than something just cobbled together.
  • Psychology Professors – Figure out how to put your prey at ease by learning peoples psychological profiles.
  • Statistics Professor – Can calculate risk/probability of various schemes to kill those won’t show up/do their homework.   They also can help you plan “accidental” deaths.   Or maimings.
  • Chemistry Professor– Knows effective methods of both poisoning and dissolving a body.
  • Biology Professors – Know the effective ways to poisoning and dismembering a body.   Bonus points if they happen to specialize in virology and can access live rabies virus!
  • Agriculture Instructors – Access to both threshers and pig farms.  (Not after the virology teacher, obviously)
  • English Instructors – Use the right rhetoric to dissuade pursuit, as well as persuading your target(s) to get into a panel van, and/or writing convincing emails from a student address suggesting they traveled to Jamaica.
  • Legal/Law Professors – It is a good idea to know your rights about searching a vehicle BEFORE you transport a body.   Or parts of a body.
  • Math Professors – We can calculate the precise amount of plastic sheeting, duct-tape, and weight of a body both pre and post exsanguination.
  • Gym Teachers – Get in great shape to beat to death those inconsiderate students.  It also helps to run them down if they haven’t been into class for a while.

Note:   I don’t actually endorse killing or maiming of students.   I especially don’t endorse forcing them to dig their own graves “as learning exercise” deep in the woods.    Nor would I point out that a student who doesn’t show up for class isn’t likely to be missed for some time after they “disappear”.

I will not kill my students and wear their skin.

I will not kill my students and wear their skin.

I will not kill my students and wear their skin…