I think today I’m going to do a bit more venting on my dissertation blues… and then tomorrow talk about what I think might fix things a little. We’ll see how it goes.
So at CIIS there’s something called the “Principles of Community.” They’re basically a list of suggestions to keep in mind when talking with others or attending classes — especially when contentious or highly emotional subjects come up. They’re supposed to be explained to all new students when they first arrive, they’re supposedly available on the CIIS website, and often professors will print out copies to hand out to their students on the first day of class if the class is going to be about something where emotions may run high.
Frankly I think all the principles are good ideas, and I try (and sometimes even succeed!) to apply them to my daily life as well as my scholastic efforts. Here’s the list, just so we all know what I’m talking about:
CIIS Principles of Community
(adapted from Featherston & Associates Visions, Inc.)
- Step out of your comfort zone. Try on new ideas, concepts, processes, behaviors before automatically rejecting them because they are different from your experience.
- Participate fully. Let go of all the other things you need to be doing and be present in the moment. Participation looks different for everyone.
- Use “I” statements. Practice self-focus: pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking.
- OK to disagree. It’s a necessary part of accepting differences.
- Not OK to blame, shame, attack, or discount self or others. Remember that this can happen on a verbal or non-verbal level.
- Intent and Impact. Be aware that it is possible to have a negative impact on an individual despite best intentions.
- Check out your assumptions. Ask questions of yourself and others instead of jumping to conclusions.
- Anything said of a personal nature should not be shared outside of the room without the person’s permission. They can say yes, no, or maybe later.
That’s it. They’re pretty simple, even though they can be difficult to implement if your emotions are rising. I mention them because there’s one last professor I want to grump about.
Why this professor in particular? Ugh, where to start. My issues with the guy began before class started, when he informed us via email that he’d be bringing readers to class for us each to buy. He gave plenty of warning, fortunately — it was the price that caused me to metaphorically clutch my pearls: $70! That’s more than most textbooks! I tried, via email, to suggest either that the readers be shared, or that less financially gifted students be allowed to follow along with the readings on-line. Both suggestions were completely ignored, and the professor flatly informed me that if I couldn’t afford the reader then I should just drop the class.
Wow, I thought… that was rude! Still, perhaps the reader was chock-full of really amazing articles we couldn’t get elsewhere. With some effort I ponied up the cash, purchased the reader on the first day of class, opened it with excitement… and discovered all the articles were nothing more than printouts of website pages.
WTF?! I paid $70 I could ill afford… for something I could have easily pulled up in class on my laptop?!
Unfortunately it got worse. The first thing the professor did on the first day of class was to hand out the Principles of Community — remember them? -and then, less than three hours later… break them by shouting me down in discussion when I disagreed with him about something. About the only good thing I can say is that when I growled that it was clear that my voice was not wanted in this class and I was therefore going to shut up now… he belatedly realized maybe he hadn’t been the most, umm… principled of professors up to that point.
The really sad part is that there are folks that very much enjoy this professor — he came highly recommended by some of the other women in the program — so I guess I just caught him at a bad time. In fact, that class was a huge disappointment all around to me. For example, in a two-weekend class the instructor didn’t actually cover the designated subject matter at all for the first weekend, and it was other students giving presentations that finally brought us around to the designated subject.
Worse, the instructor appeared to played favorites — both in class and in his grading, as I found out later. This issue slapped me in the face when I sent a short, polite email at the end of the semester asking if perhaps the grade I’d received (a B) had been incorrectly entered into the school’s computer system. I asked for two reasons, which I explained in the email as well: first, I felt I’d done A level work. Second, this had happened previously to me.
The email I got back… whew. All I’ll say is that he was furious and rudely vituperative that I’d even ask such a question, and engaged in extensive name-calling at my expense — and then he cc’d the entire exchange to every core professor in the department.
I found myself asking: aren’t our professors supposed to be our mentors and role-models? I was deeply disappointed — this was such a complete and utter waste of time and money! Further, it’s emphatically not what I’d expect from people supposedly teaching a kinder, more matricentric, more generous, and more gift-oriented spirituality.
In sum: his behavior caused me to lose all respect for him… which is a damn shame, since I’d been really looking forward to both that class and that professor.
So, to properly cap off all this whinging: KITTIEEEEEZZ!!