Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh the drama!

First things first: I did speak to the director of the School of Music today and while we really accomplished little in terms of my grade, I feel better about things. The biggest thing was that she spoke to me as an adult. She did not try to make excuses for my professor or try to make my concerns less than they were. It was very refreshing to say the least. One insight she did give me was that in one of my e-mails to my professor, I capitalized three words. She said my professor probably interpreted that as shouting, which had me shaking my head. While it is true that in written form shouting is shown by capitalizing, it is normally shown by capitalizing an entire message or sentence, not just one word here and there. Capitalizing one word is a way of showing emphasis, especially in the absence of italics and/or underlining. Everyone I've mentioned this to has said the same thing. So at least I know where the whole respect/"proper tone" thing came from. Basically, the director told me that it's a good thing that I currently have an "incomplete" because those are easier to change, plus it indicates my professor is at least willing to discuss it before giving a final grade. The director recommended I write to my professor and schedule an appointment as soon as classes start in January and get it all worked out. She also let me know what steps would need to be taken if it didn't work out, so at least I feel like someone is on my side. I enjoyed how she took a very subjective approach and simply got my side of it. She also recognized how hectic the last few weeks of the semester can be and how that fit into what happened. I got the impression she really wants to find a solution that helps me graduate without undermining the position of my professor.

The more I have thought about this and thinking back to other dealings I have had with this specific professor, the more I am led to believe that she really makes a lot of assumptions about me based on me being a white male from Ohio. I know it sounds extreme, but I first noticed it a few weeks ago when I did my music proficiency test with her. For that test we had to have 15 songs ready from a variety of different styles, appropriate age groups, and with different basic instrument accompaniments. The songs were supposed to be at least somewhat unfamiliar so we could expand or establish a personal collection of songs to use in future music classes. One of the songs I chose for a younger grade (can't remember what grade I chose it for, but it was K-2 at least) was Au Claire de la Lune. Now, I realize this is a pretty well-known song to just about everyone and while the beginning tune is familiar to me, the entire song was not nor were the words (which I did in French), so I was learning something. Well, she "failed" me on that song (each song was pass/fail) citing that it was "too easy" and basically assumed that I knew the song already or at least should've known the song and thus should've done better on it than I did. Based on what? Being white and raised in Ohio? I wouldn't go so far as to claim racism, but I would definitely label it as stereotyping. To be honest, I never heard that song even referenced by name until I was in high school college, though I heard its melody here and there growing up. My elementary music class was heavy on music appreciation, but I learned virtually nothing about music history and theory. She would be grossly offended if I assumed she knew something based solely on her race or background (she is of African descent) since that would immediately be labeled a stereotype. This whole thing with the e-mail just adds to that belief. Since she interprets putting any word in all caps as "shouting" she assumes that everyone holds that belief, when in fact, most do not. Anyway, I'm not sure how-- or if-- I will address this with her when we meet in January. Many of my private dealings with her have been positive, particularly in regards to the MAT program, but too many like this have been very negative.

In other news, due to some limited drama at the annual family cookie day, we have an update on the house. My dad did show up later and he and my mom ended up getting into an argument in the hallway regarding the current situation, particularly in regards to his relationship with Katie, which if you ask Katie doesn't exist. That's an entire different subject really though. The bottom line there is that we all need to step back and let Dad and Katie work things out themselves and if Dad is serious about maintaining a relationship with anyone, he needs to show that he cares more than simply sending messengers. Anyway, Mom and Dad ended up talking upstairs for a few hours. As for the house, the update is mixed. My dad did talk to the mortgage company and they were "gracious" enough to let him know they will be putting our house on the market beginning in January. So, yes, we will have a nice "for sale" sign in front of our house for three months while they try to sell it at its market value, which is listed at around $120,000. Now I have documented the many problems with this house, so I will be surprised if anyone offers to pay the full price for it, especially with the current economic situation. Even with that, though, we still have the inconvenience of having a realtor having access to our house and having to have visitors come over not to mention the possibilty that someone actually does decide to go ahead and buy it. If I'm here when visitors come I'll just be sure they know EXACTLY what they are looking at buying! Should the house not sell in 90 days, then the foreclosure proceedings will begin and that will last approximately 8 months, which takes us to next November or December. The hope, of course, is that by then I will have a full-time steady job and we can work out a plan for me to take over the house or some other miracle takes place by then. But seriously, can't I just have a peaceful holiday free from stress?? Just what I need...more stress for the upcoming semester!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

talking to the dean sounds like you at least have something accomplished - some piece of mind. i always feel that "honesty is the best policy" and i would totally be as honest and open with your professor in january. due to her ethnic background, she hopefully would appreciate your feelings of bias - maybe she doesn't even realize how she is being perceived and it sounds like she is judging you a along the way (does she know your religion? i hate to even bring that up ...). -t