Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy

January 30, 2012

Go ahead. Rate your professor. See if she cares. is to teachers what truth is to politicians—unwanted, unneeded, and, ultimately unnerving. I mean, seriously. Who wants to do a job where every day the people who don’t like the way you do it can—well, as a friend says, put it on your permanent record! You know the permanent record, right? It must be out there in the ether, because most of us who were threatened with it have never seen it. Wherever it is, it’s covered up in every wrong thing you’ve ever done,  like your D in sixth grade math, or a neighbor’s memory of you at 9 years old, standing on the viaduct near your house screaming all the curse words you know and being taken “down to the station” to await your mother. Not that those things ever happened to me. I’m just saying. That’s the kind of stuff that could be there. Politicians, on the other hand, have the means to create spin, so their foibles somehow turn into attributes. Unless they have sex with interns. Then, not so much.

However, in cyberspace, teachers have a permanent record, or at least teachers in higher education do. It’s called Students are anonymous, professors are not. You are identified by your real name as well as where and what you teach. There’s a place for professor rebuttals, but what student is going to believe anything there? It was posted by the enemy. Well, this enemy will never, ever go there again. I did, once. And here’s what I saw:

  • A chili pepper. I can’t even speculate on what that has to do with teaching.
  • “Mrs. Johnson is obsessed with John Stewart, but not in a good way.” How can there be a bad way? It’s John Stewart!
  • “Mrs. Johnson is openly unmedicated.” And I thought that was the default. Besides which, it’s a dirty lie.
  • “Mrs. Jnsos grade incostantently and goves D for know reaction at all. DONOT tak herclass.” Enough said.
  • “She is prejudice against junior college student,” one wrote.  Am not. I was one.
  • “Mrs. Johnson is an atheist. She thinks Eric Clapton is God.” Have you heard him play? And how am I an atheist if I believe he exists?
  • “Mrs. Johnson is a liberal but she doesn’t try to shove it down your throat.” Finally. Something positive. You take what you can get.
  • “All you ever do in this class is read and write.” Duh.

I am not making this up. I couldn’t make it up. It’s too sad. What’s even sadder is that this is often the basis upon which students choose a teacher. They view it as a gift from God, handed down from the mount. Or from Eric Clapton, handed down from the stage. Whatever your persuasion.

The saddest thing of all is that anybody can put anything at all on that Web site, and you can’t stop them. If you don’t want to be held up to the world as a really lousy teacher and human being, you’d better give everybody an A and forget about actually teaching them anything.  Shoot. Just hand out the grades at the beginning, and you won’t have to contend with the following:

What if I could go to and write random comments about them?

  • In a paper (about abortion and after I specifically said, “Do not write about abortion or gun control), a student wrote,   “A person is a feces, too.”
  • A student’s explanation on why a C was unfair: I worked really, really hard on that paper. I spent two hours on it.
  • A student received a B on the one essay (out of four) she turned in to me. She missed twelve out of fifteen classes and then registered a complaint when she failed the class.
  • In a literary analysis on the treatment of women in the early 20th century: “In the olden days, women were placed on a pedal stool.”
  • After he plagiarized his entire first paper, a definition essay, from the Internet ( a bad paper with ten-year-old sources formatted according to APA guidelines), he said the plagiarism shouldn’t be held against him because it wasn’t discovered until he had submitted his second essay. Guess what word he was defining? PSYCHOPATH!
  • He couldn’t do his homework because he had to take his girlfriend to the fair.

I could go on and on, but now I’m depressed again. Shouldn’t be, because the majority of my students are hardworking, dependable, and focused.

For the others—I’m thinking about something along the lines of It would save their future employers a lot of time and effort.



  1. I have taken your class and I know you couldn’t do that job unmedicated! You are fun, knowledgeable, self-deprecating and fair. I come away from your class smarter, more inspired, and more encouraged than when I went in. I don’t know how anyone could want more from a mere mortal.
    You started out as my teacher and became my friend. Thank you!


    Comment by lottie — January 30, 2012 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  2. No need for a ratemystudent site, Carol. Employers have Facebook for that. There, the same self-righteous students who think they should pass a class in which they have skipped 75% of the assignments will post obnoxious comments and pictures of themselves stoned and drunk, because, you know, that shouldn’t have any impact on their attractiveness to a potential employer. They should still get the job, just like they should still get the B in your class.
    Student quote from a discussion board a week or so ago: Drug attics dont have wheel power.


    Comment by Audrey — January 30, 2012 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  3. C’mon, Carol. I chose you entirely on the basis of the Clapton comment.

    I really must stop having my emails pushed to my phone. I can’t get a damn thing done after you post because I’m laughing so hard.

    By the way, your title? Going on your permanent record. I’m intimately familiar with their criteria.


    Comment by Michelle — January 30, 2012 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  4. Reminds of me of those good old high school daze.


    Comment by Doug Kelley — January 30, 2012 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  5. “Openly Unmedicated” made me laugh out loud. At least it doesnt make you out to be too easy. That is unnerving, but I did get a chili pepper


    Comment by olaf4 — January 30, 2012 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

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