Why would you want common courtesy in Academia when we have so much fun without?
Perplexing email conversation with senior colleague (whom I have by the way never met)
Chair (to Esteemed Professor of rocks, cc to saxifraga):
"Dear Esteemed Professor of Rocks. Dr. Saxifraga is our new faculty member in Speciality of Rocks and will be the future coordinator of your course. I suggest she gets involved somehow in the teaching this year in order to become familiar with the course content and structure"*.
Saxifraga (star struck): "Dear Professor of Rocks. I understand I will be the future coordinator of your course and look forward to meet you. I will be able to give some of the lectures/ practicals or participate in field trips, whatever you think suits the course".
Esteemed Professor of Rocks (not impressed): " Dear Saxifraga. Who (the hell) are you? This is a graduate course, what do you know about graduate teaching, I am sick and tired of having newly minted PhD's teach other PhD's some textbook crap, they just read last night. Where did you learn about this subject? Who were your teachers? Which textbooks do you know? **
Saxifraga (HUH???): "Dear Professor of Rocks. I suppose we will meet when I start my position and I will be happy to discuss my research activities and teaching ideas with you in person. Until then I am sure the university can provide you with information on my background. I suggest I don't participate in your course this year (because, hello dude, why would you want me there when me presence obviously fills you with rage).
Esteemed Professor of Rocks: "I get the feeling that you were annoyed by my previous email. Why the fuss? I was just trying to find out something about your background and didn't even know you were coming. Even if you are very famous, you shouldn't assume everybody knows you***.
Two days pass where saxifraga has other things to do than reply to grumpy old professors.
Monday morning the saga continues….
Esteemed Professor of Rocks: "Are you still angry with me, stop being such a baby"
Saxifraga (WTF, does this never end): "Dear Professor of Rocks. I am not angry, I am busy and haven't had the time to reply to your email. I understand why you would want some background information about me, but refuse to write a job application to teach in your course. In brief my specialty is such and such, I have this kind of teaching experience and you can read more here (link to department webpage). Whether I will participate in your course or not depends on whether my contribution is appreciated or not. I have a full course load already and suggest we will keep my participation in your course minimal.
Esteemed Professor of Rocks: Cheer up, listen to this and smile (attached mp3 file of actually quite good song possibly with some hidden meaning)
* Chair explains in another email to Saxifraga that this is just an option and not a demand since her formal teaching obligations are already filled with other courses.
**Sadly I am not making the questions up. The rest is not the actual words, but close. The meaning is certainly the same.
***Hell no, surprise or not, I don't assume anybody knows me, but I assume the university who hired me somehow guaranties a minimum expected standard for their faculty.
Labels: academia in all its glory