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10 Tips for Teaching like you’re Tenured

In The Tenured Professor on June 25, 2010 at 4:54 pm

"This book says that I know everything, and that you're a whiny little pissant"

1. The first and most important thing is that you be able to converse with your students like a tenured professor would. This requires a special mindset. Combine an innate notion of complete immunity with that physical invulnerability you only get when you’re drunk. Here is an example of how a conversation with your student should go:

Student: (Innocuous statement or widely believed theory that takes the class in a direction you don’t want it to go)

Professor: “No.”

Student: (refutes your blanket statement with an incontrovertible fact)

Professor: “No.” (Disregard topic completely, and coldly turn away from student in question)

Student: (persists/takes offense)

Professor: (Your response can vary, but it should be the verbal equivalent of a kick to the nuts, followed by dismissal from the classroom)

2. Drop names as often as possible, and try to underscore them with stories that illustrate how intimately you know these obscenely famous people. Here are the best ways to start a name drop:

“When Salman Rushdie and I were rafting down the Amazon…”

“I’ll never forget what Gertrude Stein told me on her deathbed…”

“When Voltaire and I were fucking around one day…”

“I still have nightmares about that time Henry Kissinger and I had a three-way with Jill Saint John…”

 3. Hawk your book at every available opportunity. As a tenured Professor, you will undoubtedly have at least one recently published book. Be sure to casually mention them in your lectures (“casual” being used here in the same sense that the atomic bomb is “subtle”). Even though your book is a dense symbolist tome/dense piece of intensive, mind-numbing research, surely your students will spend their time and money on it. If they don’t, you can make them purchase it as part of the course materials. Make sure you remember to yell “Tenure, bitch!” when you do it though.

4. Pick one student’s work and take a big, steaming, verbal dump on it in front of the whole class. It is important to check your students into place every now and again, lest they become haughty and threaten the totalitarian, fear-based system you’ve built. This is one of those rare instances where you don’t want to be overtly cruel. Here is a good way to weave in a soul crushing indictment of someone’s work!

“I was disappointed with the papers as a whole, some were worse then others (blatantly look at the person you want to humiliate), and I can’t believe some people would hand in the work they did and still call themselves college students.”

5. Make sure you belittle your students’ previous learning experiences. This is simple, just make the assumption that they haven’t been taught by a credible teacher until you walked in the room. Highlight this belief every time someone says something you disagree with.

6. Disregard the opinions of scholars. This is your class. Shit, you didn’t even need to get the syllabus approved. For all the college knows you’re spending the entire semester teaching about the methane content in the air every time you pass gas. If someone tries to steamroll you with some Aristotle or John Locke, you can gut punch them and just move on. Seriously though, you can do that. You’re tenured; you might be able to kill a kid if you play it right.

7. Wear clothes that make it look like you have a vendetta against fashion. Lets face it, there isn’t a teacher in the college system hat you would call a fashion plate. However, you’re tenured, it’s your civic duty to wear clothes so dated and mismatched it looks like you were dressed by a blind man that hates you.

8. At least three classes per semester, spend the entire class talking about a deeply personal problem that is not related to academics at all. Good topics include:

– Work woes. Everyone in your department is an idiot, and you are by far the most accomplished person that gaggle of bureaucratic monkeys have ever laid eyes on.

– Complain about students from another class. Nothing breeds trust and motivation like ripping a group of people right in front of their peers.

– Your age and how ungrateful youths are for their perfect health. Walk with a limp if necessary.

9. Develop an obvious and distracting idiosyncrasy. If it’s genuine, that’s all well and good, but if it’s fake, you can have more fun with it. Try ending every thought with a harmless, but completely nonsensical and irrelevant statement. If it is in the form of a question, you will have a fun time watching students fight the urge to answer. Example: “Byron’s prose was decidedly less poetic and more grounded then his contemporary Romantic writers…does a monkey have sex by moonlight?” Being physically distracting is effective as well. Pulsating your hand during lectures, violent leg twitches you pretend not to notice, or even inserting a random foreign accent…its all good, clean fun that helps you undermine the thousands of dollars your students are paying for the class. Just remember: The less you’re students pay attention to what you’re saying, the less accountable you are as a teacher.

10. The final point is grooming. Avoid it like the plague. Men should have poorly trimmed, scraggly beards. Women should wake up, splash some cold water on their face and head out the door. Body odor is important to the overall mystique, but if you feel the need to cover it up, use stale cologne/musk from a bottle that was purchased in 1972.

The Tenured Professor

In The Tenured Professor on September 16, 2009 at 3:06 am

Dr. Robert Honeydew – Dr. Honeydew is the leading national authority on Microbiology, and specializes in the subject of germ warfare. When he is not heading up the Science department at Fillmore University, he runs a research facility dedicated to the study of disease named “The Honeydew Institute for Horrific Pain and Debilitating Illness.” The institute has produced a plethora of books, most recently Is it Just the Sniffles? Odds are it’s a Crippling, Terminal Illness

The Scientific Implications of Michael Jackson

When the King of Pop died, the effects reverberated throughout the entertainment world. In a matter a minutes, a man who had been out of the public spotlight, – minus the occasional molestation trial – had his body of work resurrected. Radio stations that had hard rock formats were playing Billie Jean, line dancers were doing the moonwalk, and one-hand, sequin covered gloves were once again fashionable. If the measure of a man’s life can be determined by how much his death overshadows the demise of Farrah Fawcett, then truly Michael Jackson was a giant among insects.

However, I propose that if we don’t learn anything from a death, it’s of little use to us. As a scientist I felt there was so much more we could learn about the strange chemical process that gradually turned a virulent black male into a withered white woman. Jackson himself once said, “If you want to make the world a better place, look in the mirror and make a change.” He appeared to take his own advice to an extreme, taking masochistic aim at his nose, lips, and skin pigment. But I feel the scientific community missed a valuable opportunity to do a full scale autopsy on the Jackson specimen. With that mind I suggest we exhume Jackson’s body and do a thorough scientific examination.

I am not unaware that people often frown on digging up the corpse of dead celebrities for the purpose of performing scientific experiments. However, before we let superstition and notions of respect for the deceased cloud our judgment, let us first look at the possible scientific gains. Firstly, I think nearly everyone would agree that if we could isolate the genetic factors responsible for Jackson’s mind-bending dance maneuvers, it would be for the betterment of humanity.

Secondly, with the proper analysis of his vocal chords scientists would be one step closer to reproducing a sound that would make every man, woman and child poorly reproduce the “Moonwalk” and yell “Shimone!.” The Pentagon believes that with the proper application, Michael’s unique brand of crisp vocals and soft voice could be used as a method of distracting and mellowing enemy troops at strategic times. While it might not satisfy the bleeding hearts among us, I do believe Michael Jackson loved his country, and would want to help it in any way possible.

Finally, it is a well known adage that art imitates life. While this truism typically doesn’t inspire fear, I would conjecture Jackson’s work gives us reason for pause. I would remind my audience of the year 1983, when Jackson broadcast a worldwide warning to the populace in the form of his best selling album of all time, Thriller. While many would scoff at the notion of Michael Jackson rising from the grave to lead an army of the undead against the forces of humanity, I just don’t believe that’s a risk we’re entitled to take. Sure, I might very well be wrong…but what if I am right? Could a coalition of nations withstand the onslaught of precisely choreographed dance routines performed by a legion of reanimated corpses? I think not good sir, I think not.

In the end I am preaching caution, and with no disrespect to the deceased pop star. In fact, the only reason I would even postulate that it could happen is that I, like all others, have been witness to the awesome power that was/is Michael Jackson. I was there when Billie Jean sold us on the idea of him actually making love to a woman and having an illegitimate son. I was there when he defied gravity and seemed to float across the stage like some wizard. I watched as those so blindly in love with the sound of his voice seemed to never notice he had changed race and possibly gender. To quote a line from The Usual Suspects, a friend once told me “I don’t believe in God but I’m still afraid of him. Well, I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Michael Jackson.”

The Tenured Professor

In Student Issues, The Tenured Professor on August 29, 2009 at 6:32 am

Professor William Sinclair – Professor Sinclair is an expert in the field of Macroeconomics and has published thirty-two books on the socio-economic implications of America’s declining production in plastic trinkets and soft drinks compared with China and Taiwan. His two most notable publications have been Chinese Thumb-trap: The Slow Strangulation of American Factories, and Me Chinese, Me Play Joke: The Deadly Connection between the Economy and Soft Drinks. He is currently teaching at Harvard. He teaches one class, entitled Aggregate Economic Variables in Multinational Interrelationships. He has seven people in his class, five of whom are Asian.

The Job Market for the College Student

The young American populace finds itself in the unenviable position of having to find a job with the economy in its current state of decrepitude. As an educator, I don’t have the same concerns. As a professor with tenure the college itself would have to be reclaimed by the earth or I would have to die before I face a job security issue. I would heartily recommend this career choice to any young person without a lot of options. It’s just a simple matter of taking the GREs, getting accepted into a Graduate school, getting accepted into school for your PhD, completing your dissertation, getting a job at a major university with a tenure-track position, publishing a series of essays and books, and then getting officially accepted for tenure. Of course if you don’t get tenure you’re fired, but that’s of little consequence. If you have the money, time, and drive, it’s really the best route to go.

            However, if you don’t feel like taking the easy way out there are some other options. You could go the route of the common day laborer, but I would advise against it because it leads to calluses and the gradual degradation of the hands. If you happen to be a young and/or attractive woman, I suggest you use that to procure some form of income until the job market picks up. While I’m not advocating prostitution, I’m not admonishing it either. At the very least the world could always use another pretty face on the dance floor. I’m told Hooters waitresses have quite lucrative nights, and all they have to do is wear a low cut blouse and peddle flavored chicken wings.

            For the average male, your body might not be as marketable. You might consider this anecdote I tell my students facing post-graduation blues: When I was in my thirties I met then-President Gerald Ford. As some of you might know he was a former football player for Michigan University, but what you might not know is that even when he held office, old Gerry still had the moves. He was speaking to the secretary of the interior, Stanley K. Hathaway, and they were having a lively debate on what exactly the secretary of the interior does.

Hathaway insisted he ran the organization that oversaw the management and conservation of federally owned land, but Ford was convinced it his job was directly related to the adornment within the Oval Office. Hathaway was getting rather perturbed and as their voices reached a fevered pitch, Ford closed the space between them rapidly and took down Hathaway in a near perfect form tackle that nearly knocked him out of his wing tips. Ford sprang up from the unconscious body of Hathaway and with a primal yell exclaimed “I tell you what to do Hathy-boy, I’m the fucking President bitch.”

I tell that story for a simple reason. Gerald didn’t allow anyone to tell him what he could and couldn’t do, and that’s guidance that’s applicable to all walks of life. While I can’t deny that you might very well not know what you want to do, how to get there, or how you’re going to earn a living in an economy that’s one bad day at the stock market away from reinstituting Hoover-villes, that doesn’t mean you can feign confidence. You have the power…even if you lack the money, the will, and the home.