Hagventures in Teaching

I’ve been having a few very disappointing days at work. Or was it weeks?

The most dispiriting aspect is that, regardless of how senior I am, there will always, always, be crap that I wouldn’t have to deal with if I were a dude. And it’s all young men dishing out the bullshit.

A former student being extremely disrespectful over one of the papers that were left unfinished when he graduated and left. All papers but one have been published in the interim; this is the last one left. Former student has issues with the speed of these papers getting out sans his involvement (god forbid I slow down for COVID or burnout or any normal human condition) and the involvement of the students who are still in the group. The email I received was beyond hurtful, especially because I know I have done my absolute best to champion and support this former student. I guess now I know how he really views me.

A kid who is taking a sophomore-level required class as a senior, needs to graduate this semester, but isn’t doing well in the class at all. Takes passive-aggressive jabs at me in class, which I have to ignore or laugh away because nothing good comes out of having a blow-up in a huge lecture hall. He is all aggrieved because he’s doing poorly, which stems from his shockingly bad preparion in both physics and math, but it’s apparently all my fault and I’m supposed to just absorb the nonsense.

A kid who demands more and more explanations in class of why this one quantity exists, because this quantity sure is pissing him off. After I’ve offered him half a dozen different explanations, including why this quantity is important and where it is found and what intuitive information it carries and how it connects to the rest of the course and to the material in other courses, he says, “That’s not what I want.” Like he’s a customer and I am an idiot customer service rep, and he wants his money back.

Hubs says it’s 100% because I’m a woman and that they would never act like this with a similarly aged dude.

I hoped I’d be done with this shit by now — the aggrieved entitlement, alongside a complete lack of self-reflection —  but no, it never ends. There are always new cocky boys ready to take on the uppity old hag.

Granted, not the whole class is like this. It’s just a few individuals with chips on their shoulders, while the rest are really nice.

But the few, oh those few.

And I am so, so tired of it.


  1. I am really sorry that you have to go through these situations.

    I have personally been in both these situations and it is weirdly reassuring that it’s not me (us) specifically but a gender issue — maybe this is a perverse form of survival instinct that makes me see gender bias as a silver lining in such situations.

    P.S. Any tips for resolution of conflicts triggered by this in your own research group — since typically there stakes and potential hurt/damage caused are both high(er).

  2. It was predictable, but I get pretty dispirited as the COVID love and tolerance wanes. I think Fall 2020 was peak “we’re all in this together” sentiment, when students actually expressed appreciation for everything that we as faculty were doing to keep their education going, and when they actually temporarily saw us as fellow humans — we were all in it together, and the good will was palpable.

    Yeah, that lasted approximately one semester. Now they’re all done with the pandemic and have no concept that other people (like parents of young kids) might actually still be in the thick of it, and that we as faculty are *still* constantly adjusting to the roller coaster of changing pandemic circumstances on our campus, and that that adjustment takes a huge amount of time and mental effort even when it appears effortless. I think partly it’s the spillover of their impatience for the pandemic to be over. And of course, it’s easier to take it out on the female faculty, as usual.

  3. I have had several of these this semester and yep, all dudes. This is the underlying reason why, as my spouse says, I’m quick to bring out the flamethrower (the better to burn it all down). For a variety of irritating reasons I have been asked to not burn down these clueless, entitled children, but oh, I could.

  4. I’m sorry you are experiencing this. But reading this and your comments made me feel so much better – that it’s not just me! Maybe we need an online zoom or workshop or something. Sigh. Hang in there!

  5. I have worked hard to become much sweeter, nicer, and do more emotional labour over the years, because my U is focused on student evals to the exclusion of anything else. When I was what students thought of as a bitch (short form: “No extension”) I NEVER had entitled males up in my grill like now, leaving the room whenever they wanted and then having the temerity to complain I was the one with the problem for requesting they wait for breaks, repeatedly using their cellphones after I asked them not to because “I need something to fidget with” (4th year university student), repeatedly challenging their grades because I “didn’t follow the rubric,” etc.

  6. Sorry to read that. Can imagine that a former student writing a deeply disrespectful letter is the most insulting and disappointing bit…

  7. This sounds exhausting and enraging both. It only takes a few to sour the experience; sorry you’re dealing with this.

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