Thursday, May 19, 2005

Not So Trivial

***This is not the original post I had planned to write. I tried to edit the original for typos and Blogger ended up eating the entire post - typos and all. Which is probably ok, as the original post sucked anyway. I just didn't expect Blogger to be so editorially aware.***

Well, the final essays have been read and graded. Whenever I grade the final essays I always reminisce about my early days of teaching and why I chose to get into this field. Although, the fact is this was not my first, second, or even third choice for a career.

When I started college I had these heady visions of a career filled with political intrigue, foreign diplomats, and exotic locales. I thought I would major in International Relations, get a job doing something vaguely James Bond-like and well, do other...international-type stuff.

I majored in International Relations for about a year before I had the sense to get the hell out. Most of my professors were so deep into theory and divorced from reality that they couldn't name the capital city of Canada. They weren't interested in real-world events. I, on the other hand, had no interest in theory. It took me a year to figure this out and when I did I wasn't very happy.

To illustrate just how dissimilar my take on International Relations was from my professors I offer up a brief episode from my freshman year - oh so many moons ago...

One of my first assignments in my World Politics class was to find and interview someone who worked in the arena of - you guessed it - world politics. Considering that I was going to school in Washington D.C., it wasn't that difficult to find someone who fit the bill. In fact, my roommate at the time knew the ambassador from Paraguay and got me an interview with him. I thought I was the mother-fucking mack daddy of international politics for scoring that interview. I just knew that CNN would be calling me up for a job once word got out that I had interviewed the Paraguayan Ambassador! That's right, you read it correctly: Paraguay. (I'll pause now so y'all can look up Paraguay in the Wikipedia to find out just where it is.) Those professional journalists had nothing on me! Barbara Walters? Fucking amateur! Larry King? Imbecile!

So I met with the ambassador - who was an extremely nice man by the way - and I learned a lot about the current state of Paraguay. This was in 1990 right after Stroessner was ousted and the government was still in turmoil. Paraguay stood at the cusp of democracy after years of authoritarian rule.

I wrote my paper and turned it in expecting accolades and quite possibly a Pulitzer nomination (silly girl that I was). About a week later I got my paper back with a big fat "C" on the front and a note saying that while my paper was well-written it completely lacked any information on "networking." Networking?! Yes, networking.

When I asked my professor about my grade he told me that he wasn't interested in reading about revolutions, civil wars, and the like. He wanted his students to learn about the "networking" associated with the "average" players in the realm of international politics like a secretary working at the Red Cross, or the accounts payable clerk for a multi-national oil drilling company. "Your paper would have been much better had you explored the role of the ambassador's secretary in coordinating travel plans for the embassy staff."

Huh?

Soon after that conversation I started looking for a new major - right after I let one of my drunk friends vomit all over my prof's car.

2 Comments:

Blogger CCF said...

I'd almost forgotten how utterly uselsss that entire department was. I think I had one useful class there and it was taught by someone not from the department - Naval Academy as best I recall. Scary thing is all the nitwits that stuck with the PoS plan are now the twists running the state department. Makes me sleep better at night.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Pops said...

Some of us are so confused by theory that we stay with our major all the way through grad school even if it confuses and frustrates us. Pity us, won't you?

11:40 AM  

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