The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Say a Little Prayer

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I just returned home from having drinks and snacks with my friend, Divorce Lady. Divorce Lady is a matrimonial attorney and my very good friend. We get together once a month to bitch about work and down a few martinis! MMMM…chocolate martinis!

In my Critical Thinking class, the students discussed the state of their research and could ask any questions they may have. I had the other students help come up with suggestions or solutions to each other’s problems. But one conversation blew me away. I so needed a drink after the following exchange.

Student: Professor, I am having problems with my research paper.
Seeking Solace: What seems to be the problem?
Student: I am writing my paper on child abuse. Are there any laws that outlaw it?
SS (trying not to laugh in this girl’s face): Uh…yes. Didn’t you research this topic?
Student: Well, I am having trouble because this topic is too hard. I want to change my topic.
SS: Well, it’s a little late for that. What is the thesis of your paper?
Student: I think anyone who reports child abuse should be put in jail.
SS: Well, that’s an interesting premise. But what about people like doctors and teachers who are required by law to report abuse if they reasonably believe that a child has been abused.
Student: They should go to jail because it ain’t no one's fucking business if I want to put my kid through a wall.
Class falls into a dead silence.
SS (thinking that someone should put this bitch through a wall): Well, you have a difficult task ahead of you. I guess you have to ask yourself what is abuse and defend you position with examples. But don’t forget that you must look at those opinions that do not agree with your premise.
Student: This is fucking hard. I want to change my topic.
SS: It is too late to change your topic. You chose it. You handle it. When you have a more specific question, ask me then. But I can’t help you if you have not completed any research.
Student (with a smart ass look): I guess.

No one said a word after that. What could you say after something like that?

Thankfully, another student had the courage to change the subject. I think everyone was stunned by that exchange. I was angry and disgusted. Does this student have kids? Yes. Does she do the type of thing that she suggested in our conversation? Probably. Can I prove it? No. Can I do anything about it? No.

But, I think I will say an extra prayer tonight.

Update 3/21/06: The student in question emailed me the outline for her paper. I will let you know what happens.


Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Daaaaaaaaaaaaamn. I've had to deal with a lot of crap in my classes, but nothing like that.

Publius (my husband) thinks you should report it. I dunno.

Addy N. said...

Wow. That is quite disturbing, I agree. It sounds like you teach a lot of non-traditional students(?) Miami is almost exclusively 18-22- year-olds, so we don't usually have to deal with anything like that. Do you really think the student is abusing her kids? I wonder if she will say anything "revealing" in her paper... Take care.

Astroprof said...

This sound like someone who shouldn't have kids. She sounds like a perfect example for an argument requiring a license to have kids.

Just about the time that I think that I've heard everything, something like this comes along ...

Ianqui said...

Holy. Crap.

I'll be interested to hear what she finally has to say in her paper.

sheepish said...

Holy shit. And "This is fucking hard" on top of all that? WTF?

Seeking Solace said...

Brazen: Legally, I have no obligation to report it. As a lawyer, I do not believe that I can prove that she does or ever did what she stated. Words alone do not meet the standard of reasonable belief that abuse has occurred. But ethically and morally…I don’t know. If I did say something, even anonymously, I am afraid that this student would find out it was me. That could raise even bigger problems.

Adenostoma: Part of me thinks that she might be. She is very outspoken regarding her personal life. But she is also known to blow smoke about different things.

To all: I will be interested in reading her paper. Of course, I will let you all know what she writes!!!

Pink Cupcake said...

Wow, that's unbelievably awful. I just can't believe anyone would say such a thing.

On a lighter note, you've now got me yearning for a chocolate martini! :)

Peri said...

Do you think there is ANY possibility that this woman is a person who is actually trying to provoke you in order to get help? I hoping she'll do some research on the topic and come speak with you so you can ask her more. I think it's well within the bounds of teacher-student conversation to aak her why she's chosen this topic (again). I'd be incredibly blunt with her (with the door open) and ask her why she's telling you this? She obviously needs help. I think you have to inform her that she's telling you information that makes you suspect she abuses her own children and you want to know why she's telling you this.

Nothing like more unsolicited advice... I'll be anxious to hear how this one ufolds.

Seeking Solace said...

Peri: You raise a good point. I wonder if she thought see could shock me. Usually, nothing shocks me (I did represent people in criminal and matrimonial matters). But this one...

BrightStar said...

Ugh... You ask if a teacher should report child abuse, student reveals herself or himself as a likely abuser... and sort of indirectly threatens if you report it. Icky.

In other news, I'm kind of relieved that this student is enrolled in a critical thinking class, because clearly the student needs to learn to think critically.

Mmm... Chocolate martinis. I had an espresso martini recently that totally rocked.

Lina said...

what the fuck is her story? Christ...

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

This is so disturbing, I can't even get my head around it.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

That is just amazing... if I understand your assignment correctly, I don't see a way for child abuse to be a good topic. I don't see an argument in favor of abusing kids... I've had a similar problem with the topics of racism and sexism. I try to get them to frame the question on the other side -- argue racism or sexism is good... then they usually pick a new topic.

Ellen said...

Holy cow - pro-child abuse.

Do you have a "all papers are the property of me" policy? Maybe then you could get a grading assistant for that particular paper - one who could assist you on the validity of those arguments. One that might not have the evidence to do anything now, but can keep ears to the floor for anything else that may go on in this family's life.

I'm "piling on" prayer-wise

Shelly said...

Yeah, well, s/he lost me on "hard" which is one of my pet "empty words."

Oh, the joys of traversing the morals that accompanying teaching one to write something besides general bullshit.