Monday, July 20, 2009


So I have a dilemma…

Last year, I started team-teaching a course over at the University in technology development and feasibility analysis, a subject I know quite a bit about.

My colleague, “Dave”, and I taught the seminar together last year. Dave is the director of the program, about the same age as I am, and his skill set complements mine well. We played extremely effectively off each other last year, and I think the result was that the students enjoyed the class and learned a lot.

It’s time to re-sign for this year, and I walked into my curriculum planning meeting on Friday full of ideas. I wanted to re-arrange some of the class elements so they built on each other better, and I wanted to add a new section on market segmentation.

By the time I left, I wasn’t so sure I even wanted to do this again this year.

Toward the end of autumn semester last year, Dave hired a new teacher, “Henry” to join the program on a more-time-than-me basis. Henry apparently taught the second class in the series during spring semester. Henry is a retired CEO, late 60s, military haircut, whose first discussion with me centered around his contention that I was full of hooey regarding whether medical method patents can be enforced in the US. I wasn’t wrong, and I very promptly set him, and my at-that-point-confused students, straight.

Don’t get me wrong; he’s a smart guy. He knows a lot about how a run a business. I think he’s probably a great advisor for start-up companies. But he’s a terrible teacher. Like, I had every one of his students in my office last semester complaining about his lack of skill and preparation (there was no syllabus published until week 8 of the semester), subjectivity of his grading, and his overall very demeaning attitude toward his students. I did, in fact, suggest to two of them that a call to the ombudsman’s office was probably an appropriate next step.

(There is no real correlation between this post and this picture, except that it made me laugh when I saw it.)

Friday, I learned that I have to teach this class, not with Dave, but with Henry. And I have to say, the rest of the meeting on Friday didn’t raise my opinion of Henry a bit. He treated me like someone he clearly doesn't respect, and even made a couple of flippant remarks about – of all things – my being left-handed. (To which I replied, “Why Henry, how very 19th century!”). At one point, he got under my skin so bad, I turned to him, laughing, and said, "Henry, seriously; you and I are about five minute from going to the mat."

So now I’m torn. I love teaching this class. Love the subject matter. Love the students. But I don’t love this guy. I’m at that point in my life where I don’t necessarily feel like I have to be respected by everyone – if you think I’m a dork, I’m OK with that. But I’m also at a point in my like where I don’t have to choose to hang around with people who treat me like a dork.


And I was really looking forward to this.


bhd said...

Wow! Sorry to hear this!

If it were me, I would walk away. I wouldn't allow myself to be treated that way.

Good luck with your decision!

Xeric said...

TAKE him to the mat, Beans. If (or, I'd have to bet, when) he can't hear (from a woman?) that he's in the wrong, you can walk away at least having had your say.

Crabby McSlacker said...

How frustrating! Let's hope Dave eventually gets the message that this guy is bad news.

And glad to hear you're standing up for yourself in your interactions with Henry! So many women seem to feel like it's their job to compromise and back down in order to keep the peace. Then the bullies win.

winter said...

What a delightful jerk. He makes a perfect case study in the difference between knowing and teaching.