Educate Me

Someone Stop the World, I Want to Get Off…

(Long rant. I’m taking advantage of the extended entry. You deserve a prize if you make it through the whole thing.)

I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day when I woke up after about 2 hours of sleep. Yes, 2 hours of sleep. My head was racing non-stop with so many things I needed to do. I could never really get settled in. I tossed, turned, and watched the clock all night.

I felt like a zombie for half the day today, and a moody zombie at that. Then I had my photography bubble popped.

Then my photography teacher made a rather asshat comment as I left the class today. This girl, who isn’t even shooting photos with the right film after a whole semester in the class, was asking him a question; she wanted to know if 60 divided by 12 was 5. Not even thinking (zombie state), I said yes. I realized that the words in my head had come out of my mouth, and I immediately apologized because I could tell from the look on his face that it had really pissed him off. He said, “THANK YOU, but this IS MY CLASS.”

Uh, ok, I know that. You’re the one that grades the papers and gets paid for being there. I’m the one that gets the grades and turns in assignments. Yep, pretty clear to me that it is your class.

I tried to shake it off. I knew I was tired and edgy, so there was no point in stressing over it. I went into the darkroom, I finished most of my portfolio prints, and I came out to leave when class was over. I was cordial to him, and I thought the moment had passed.

That was until he stopped me as I left – I was the last person to leave thanks to having my giant Biology scavenger hunt box with me – and he said it to me again. That it has really bothered him; that no matter how much I think I know about photography, and how much I might in fact know, it is still HIS class. He would appreciate it if I remembered this.

I was stunned. First of all, we only have 3 days left in the semester, and then he will be done with me. So was there a need for a confrontation? I don’t think so. Second, I said the word “yes” to a math problem. It isn’t like I was telling her how to print her film – I couldn’t begin to do that, since it isn’t the right film anyways. (There is black & white film out that you can buy and have printed at a regular store lab after you shoot it – we use different film and different chemicals for our class.) Last but not least, I definitely do NOT think that I know it all when it comes to photography. I think that learning is a lifetime process, and no matter how much I know about photography, there is always so much more to learn. I could take classes every day for 10 years and still not know it all.

I, of course, started to cry. Why? Because that is how I react to anyone that I seek approval from when they talk to me like this. I prefer to handle these situations over the phone (I can hide the crying better) or via e-mail where I can hide it completely. In person? After 2 hours of sleep? I knew the second that he stopped me that I was going to fall apart.

I was right.

I went on to apologize, trying to explain that I said yes before I could stop myself, and I was really sorry for doing that. That was when he made the comment about me thinking that I knew it all, and that it was his class. I stammered. I took a deep breath. I told him that that was not the case at all, I did not feel that way. He said that was how I had acted. I said again that that was not how I felt. He said that maybe he was reading something wrong, because that was definitely the impression he got. I told him that I was sorry if that was the impression he got, because it was not how I felt. I apologized again, as the tears flowed.

Then I turned and walked away. I didn’t know what else to say, and I knew I was going to be a sobbing mess if I didn’t escape fast. Hell, I’m crying now just typing this, and it happened almost 10 hours ago.

I tried to calm down as I headed to the Biology room, but I wasn’t very successful. As soon as I got there, my lab partner saw that I was upset. He asked what was wrong, and let me rant about it. I needed that, but it didn’t help much. I was glad that the teacher had us give our presentation first, because I kept welling up with tears over the next 3 hours.

UGH. I hate it when I’m all funky and emotional like this. And I hate it when things like this make me cry, because the photography teacher probably thinks I was sad and hurt, when the reality is that I am bitter, mad, and angry about it.

You know what probably makes me the most angry? The fact that I’ve complained all semester long on how he doesn’t give us critiques, we get no feedback – if I made a “B” on a print, I couldn’t tell you why. Nothing. I get a score on a number of elements, but they mean nothing if you never tell me what to improve. I’ve been very disappointed about this class because I actually know I have a lot to learn, and I had hoped that I would have the opportunity to do so by taking the class. Instead, I have really learned almost nothing. I got to go back into the darkroom after 20 years, which has been fabulous. I got to learn how to develop film again. Other than that? I am walking away with no new knowledge.

Maybe that is why he thinks I think that I know it all? Because in reality he has taught me nothing new, really? I do know everything he has taught in this class. I don’t regret taking it, because it was more exciting for me then taking Art Appreciation or Art History. (I am required to take a 3-hour art class, no matter what my degree plan. Well rounded students and all.)

Maybe he took my comment about wanting to get an enlarger since I can’t take Photo II the wrong way? I’ve wanted to own an enlarger and have my own darkroom for as long as I could remember. When we looked at our house before buying it, one of my first comments was on the odd 2nd bathroom upstairs and how I could turn it into a darkroom because there are no windows in it. I would have bought Hanna’s darkroom equipment when she sold it if I could have. As far as the class, I do not need any more electives, and taking Photo II does not work with my schedule for next year. If I could make it happen, I would take the course at a different campus, because I don’t think he is teaching much in his Photo II course either. They do a little work with studio lighting, and that is it. I desperate want a good flash for my camera and a class on how to use it – which I might just have to take through one of the camera shops in town.

Anyways, back to the original issue … I’ve cried at least once an hour since noon today. It is now close to 10 pm. What is up with that? Really? I’ve had enough. No more crying. Enough!

Oh, and the fun thing? I don’t have class tomorrow, but with limited darkroom time on Thursday, I may go in tomorrow morning to develop film and one or two prints if possible. I will keep my mouth shut as much as possible and my head down. I have no desire for any more conflict.

I keep debating about sending him an e-mail to apologize again, because I want to know what I have said that has him so wound up. I can’t believe that a “yes” to a math question would have set him off like that. At the same time, I know I’m still too emotional and it probably wouldn’t be a good thing. My Mom always told me that if you didn’t want someone to use your words against you, you shouldn’t write them down. (See, Mom? I was paying attention to your wise words of wisdom!) I’m afraid I would write something I would either regret or that would be twisted out of context, and either way … it is better if I just keep my thoughts to myself.

I will silently mock the fact that over at he has a horrible rating. The frequent complaint? That no one has any idea what his grading system is and he never gives feedback on prints so you can’t really learn anything. Seems I’m not the only one with that issue.

I feel like my photographic bubble has been burst. That is a really sad feeling when you love something as much as I love photography.

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

19 replies on “Someone Stop the World, I Want to Get Off…”

Oh Christine, this is horrible. First of all, don’t you DARE let that jerk burst your photographic bubble or any other bubble for that matter!!! It sounds to me that this guy has real insecurity issues, or else he wouldn’t have gotten to defensive to you simply answering a silly little question. You’re completely right, you weren’t debating something that he said or even referring to anything that pertains to photography… sheesh. He was probably incredibly threatened by the fact that you do know as much as you do about photography and couldn’t handle it. As far as apologizing again, I wouldn’t. In fact, it sounds as if he owes you an apology.

I’m more concerned about why you’ve been crying all day… are you under too much stress or could your meds be out of whack again? Although, if you’re like me and you cry when you get angry, it’s because of the injustice involved… and it just irritates the crud out of me when “mean” people seem to get away with… well… being mean! And if you look on my 100 Things About Me list, it even says, “I hate mean people”. You probably do too. I think he likes the fact that he got to you, and I think you need to make sure you don’t give him that pleasure again. Get PLENTY of sleep, finish your three days of his stupid worthless class, and then rate him accordingly.

Love you babe… hang in there!

I didn’t realize until after I wrote this post that I didn’t take any of my medicine last night, so no sleep plus no medicine together probably have made me extra emotional. The no sleep and all the tests and projects due all at once are a bit much on the system too, I’m sure.

I’m going to sleep in tomorrow morning, and then go have a mini felting party, eat lunch, and go develop my film. Nice and low key, probably the best thing for my system.

Getting it all off my chest here helped a lot too. And you are right – I do hate mean people. I also get frustrated at my personal need to “explain myself” all the time – it isn’t necessary. I don’t need to do it. If he felt threatened by me, that was his issue – I am not a threat at all.

I’m just so over all of this. I’ll be happy when next week ends.

Dude! You did nothing wrong Christine. You answered a math problem. If that student dropped her papers he would have said “Uh excuse me, that’s MY floor!” He’s obviously really insecure, and 99% of the time “rate my professor” is right on the money, so he must not be a very good teacher. There’s no point trying to get in his head, to try and figure out what set him off. It could have been a million different things. Maybe he only got 2 hours of sleep too. Hope tomorrow is better :o)

This was the professor’s problem – not yours. I’ve had many photo classes (it was my major for three years) and I can tell you that there are absolutely horrible photo profs that think no feedback is the best way. Then there are amazing professors that give you tons of feedback and make you work hard for your results. Those are the ones you learn from. Your professor? Honestly, he just sounds like a control-freak to me. Don’t let it ruin your love of photography. That’s still all yours.

Plus, he’s probably just pissed that you got the answer first. ;-P

I don’t see that you have anything to apologize for. If anything, he’s the one that behaved inappropriately. Talk about unprofessional. Just hang in there the last 3 days!

Like others have already said, you have nothing to apologise for. He sounds like an insecure bastard to me. He can’t handle someone else having knowledge and has such low confidence in his own abilities that he tried to make you feel bad. His little power game after class proves that, I think.

((((hugs)))) You didn’t deserve that and I’m really sorry he made you feel that way. You are an extremely talented photographer not to mention a super kind and wonderful person.

As for being the crying, missing your meds as you said wouldn’t have helped, but sometimes crying can be a way for the body to release stress. Anyhoo, crying shows you have a big heart, which is a fabulous thing to have! 🙂

Maybe you do know it—and what wrong with that. It may be his class but it doesn’t make him the one person with the knowlege. I wouldn’t be ashamed for having knowlege Christine. It’s okay to be smart. It’s not okay to make someone else feel like shit becuase you feel insecure about your own intelligence (which by the way is how I see what your professor did to you).

Yanno how many teachers/professors at school/university I had that did and said similar things to me? It took me a long time to realise that the saying that “those who can’t do, teach” is completely true (with certain subjects – especially art!). The professors who gave me the hardest time, were the ones who didn’t and couldn’t cut it in the real world. They might know their theory, but they have no flair for their subject. They were also the meanest and most sarcastic teachers too, always on the defensive in case one of their students might show them up. Try and do well in the class – and they think you’re showing off. Honestly, they’re just looo zahs!!! (holds L with fingers in front of forehead). I remember looking at one teacher that I had in school who’d just insulted my intelligence (I wasn’t stupid, just unmotivated) to my face in front of the whole class (I was in high school) and I thought to myself, “Buddy, you’re the one wearing brown corduroy pants too tight for you, with an orange and green plaid shirt – and you think I have problems!!!? LOO ZAH!!!!”

i’m so sorry that happened to you. honestly, i’m sure what set him off was not your comment, but the fact that he’s intimidated by your knowledge of photography. any normal prof would not have reacted that way to what you did.

i’m sorry to say i’ve had a prof like this before. my senior year in college, i had a prof that was just nutty. she would yell at students when they raised their hand in class, assign ridiculously hard assignments that she herself couldn’t even complete with unpractical deadlines… the list goes on. a friend and i were in that class together, and we used to sit in the back of the classroom and whisper to each other. we were never loud enough to disrupt the class, but apparently it bothered this prof. now, any sane prof would have pulled us aside one day after class and said “could you please stop talking, it disrupts my teaching” and the problem would have been resolved. instead, one day out of the blue, in the middle of class, she yelled at my friend and i to get up and sit on opposite sides of the classroom! this is college, not kindergarten! then she cornered us after class, and started ranting about how we were ruining her class, etc. this of course made my friend burst into tears. but for once i was able to hold back those annoying tears of anger, and after my friend ran out of the room, i let this prof have it. i didn’t raise my voice, i didn’t use inappropriate language, but i did tell her in no uncertain terms that she was the worst teacher i had in 16 years of school and the only teacher that has ever had a problem with me in class. i told her i thought she should have handled the situation, and about how frustrated i was about not learning anything in her class (like you, i had looked forward to learning a lot in the class, and in fact learned next to nothing). lucky for me i didn’t need the credits for that class to graduate, so i had nothing to risk by telling her off so close to graduation. and boy did i feel better afterwards 🙂

but honestly, in your situation, i definitely would NOT apologize to him again – you did NOTHING wrong! he was out of line, he should apologize to you. since you only have 3 classes left, i would just lay low. if your school does teacher evaluations, make sure you fill one out, and if you think it’s warranted, maybe go talk to the department head or dean. again, you did NOTHING wrong! 🙂

You don”t need to apologize. This man is certainly exhibiting what I always called a “Napolen Complex.” He is a little insecure jerk (by the way just how tall is he?), and he is threatened easily. He doesn’t really have a system for grading – he just puts a mark on the project.
I was a biology major and went to a small Catholic university. Therefore I had the same guy for the upper level classes. He gave the same grade regardless. When I took embryology I hardly went to class. I got the same grade for the ones I busted butt over!
You are almost done with him. Ignore him!

You have absolutely NO reason to apologize. He is nothing more than a complete asshat, plain and simple. You did nothing wrong. He should apologize for snapping out at you!! He’s an idiot.

You can’t help it if your brain works faster than his. That’s a GOOD thing! 🙂

My husband’s running into the same problem…he’s taking an online course and is stumbling hardcore because the teacher doesn’t help. Instead of giving hints or tips in the community bulletin board, he tells the students to private email him. What if the rest of the class is having the same problem? He doesn’t give programming homework back with any notes. “There’s too much wrong for this to compile properly.” So what was wrong with it??! I’m just praying he someone manages to pass the course so he doesn’t have to take it again!

Christine, you have *nothing* to apologize to this asshat for. Chewing you out for answering a MATH problem in photography class? Puh-fucking-leeze. His behavior is completely unprofessional.

Yes, there’s probably more to it than the math problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything to do with you. He’s got to know he lacks competence, and the insecurity has to eat at him; maybe he’s been given an ultimatum based on his ratings, and sees your attitude toward him (which is MERITED by his behavior) as evidence that that threat is a real one. Or maybe his girlfriend dumped him because he’s equally incompetent in the sack. Whatever it is, it’s *his* issue — don’t let him make it yours.

Keep your head down and finish out the course; if he tries to bring it up again as *anything* other than *him* apologizing to *you* — which is the direction the apologies need to be running here — tell him you don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss it and that if he has any concerns he can feel free to put them in writing. And then I *would* go discuss it — or put it in writing yourself — with whoever supervises him; they need to know about this kind of unprofessional behavior, *especially* if there’s any hint of retaliation in your final grade.

And man, I hear you on the crying-when-furious thing; I sometimes do that too, and it always makes me absolutely livid with myself, because it comes across as “I feel I am in the wrong” when it’s actually “I am SO PISSED OFF I CAN’T BREATHE and I want to KILL YOU.”

this man obviously has many more emotional issues than you do, christine. and, unlike you, he obviously also feels threatened by someone he views as an autority figure in some way. he probably is insecure around beautiful, talented students with life experience who see right through him.
now, doesn’t THAT make you feel more powerful?
you might not like it, cuz you’re sweet, but hopefully, it will help you get over the crying hump!

Hey, just happened to wander over and read this post. I’m sorry this happened. Let me say that, as a professor, this is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard. I have had students who act as if they “know it all,” but by no means whatsoever would I classify this incident as being an example of that! I couldn’t care less if someone answered another student’s question that wasn’t even really related to the subject matter! In fact, when it’s a dumb question (e.g., a college student who has to ask about dividing 60 by 5), I actually enjoy it when another student answers because it shows it was something the student who asked should have already known.

Also, I have on occasion snapped at students. But maybe 5 times in 10 years of teaching, and for much worse things than this (like when, during a discussion of a reading we’d done on gay and lesbian relationships, I asked how gay people tended to meet their partners and one punkass in the back said, “At AIDS clinics,” heh heh). Furthermore, I have never in 10 years of teaching held a student after class to go off on them. Sometimes for a question or a concern, but never for something like what your guy did.

So, the point is after all this rambling is that this was obviously about him and not really anything you did. Maybe he was having a bad day, maybe he’s an adjunct with a chip on his shoulder, maybe he just read some bad evals on ratemyprofessor (lol), but please don’t waste anymore emotional energy on this joker if you can help it. He’s just not worth it. 🙂

Oooh, just read all the comments and had to post again….!

First, ratings on are, by and large, not accurate, as someone above noted. If you look, there is a direct positive correlation between the “easiness” rating of a professor and the overall rating. I have had countless students tell me they can’t believe I have an “average” (not bad, mind you) rating and people complain too much about the hard work. Reviews of my colleagues with whose teaching I am familiar tell the same story, as do reviews of my grad school professors when I go back and read them. Furthermore, think of it this way–when you have great service at a restaurant, etc., how often do you bother to write/call to praise the server vs. when he/she is terrible and you complain? My university evaluations are significantly higher (around a 4.4 out of 5) than RMP ratings.

Bottom line, easy (and hard) professors who are boring/lame/disorganized (as it sounds like your guy was with the grading system) will still get relatively poor ratings, decent/average profs who are easy will get quite good ratings, but good professors who have very rigorous standards and assign a lot of work will not get good ratings. I don’t care, personally, because the slackers tend to weed themselves out of my classes by heeding the advice about how “hard I am” (and no, I am NOT saying all people who use RMP when choosing profs are slackers!). In fact, truth be told, I have gone in a few times and posted my own ratings about how hard I am, how there is a “ton of reading,” and “lots of papers” because, hey, if people don’t want to do classwork they shouldn’t be in college (and they definitely shouldn’t be in my class because we’ll both be miserable!)

You’re at a comm college, right? Let the dean and VP of Instruction know–as evaluations sometimes mean squat in reality. If the powers that be ever took them seriously, most of the jerk professors like him wouldn’t still be there making our lives miserable. Also, gloat in the glory that there’s no tenure track at that level, which is probably part of the reason he’s teaching there and not lecturing at the university level 😉

ps…almost all of my hard/tough professors in undergrad and grad school have gotten nearly all good ratings at that site–they’re also the few that have made learning enjoyable 🙂 So there’s some honest ratings out there worth trusting.

You did nothing wrong! Sounds like he’s either on a power trip or he’s just insecure. Don’t let him ruin that love you have! He had NO RIGHT to talk to you like that. Grrrr.

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