I began teaching in 1993, as a TA at Arizona State University, the year before I went to the Peace Corps, where I was also a teacher. I’ve worked as a tutor, teacher, trainer and guide, most recently as an adjunct instructor for the accredited online university American Public University System (APUS). There I teach beginning French and Spanish, starting in 2007.
The university at that time was still quite new and online universities in general have had a difficult time overcoming their poor reputation. Still, as an avid learner myself, but one who didn’t really enjoy the classroom experience, it was a natural fit for me. Change in the cyber-world is the greatest given, and education is no exception to this rule. I felt I’d adjusted over the years fairly well. I was apparently quite mistaken.
Jumping through new hoops with the ever-changing demands of the ever-changing administration is not for the veteran teacher, and I believe they are coming to rely heavily on that fact. In the last year the turnover is something I haven’t experienced since age 16, working at Shoney’s Big Boy.
This university caters primarily to our military professionals and that was a mixed blessing for me. On the one hand, the students are more diligent and respectful than those I experienced teaching high school or a typical community college or university. On the other hand, I did not feel comfortable being employed by a tentacle of the military industrial complex. In hindsight perhaps I should’ve taken that misgiving more seriously.
Most recently I’ve been ordered to not correct student grammar. This was after last year being ordered to not only correct student grammar in the target language (French or Spanish) but also in English, as many students were deficient and the cultural forums are written in English. We’ve also been ordered to actively monitor students’ performance and “engagement” and make weekly contact with inactive students. This is masked in concerns of “retention” though to me it looks more like accustoming the student to regular surveillance. I was also informed I was being monitored with equivalent consistency.
When I try to voice my concerns about normalizing such practices I’m met with comments like “get on board or get out” and “we’re all in this Brave New World together.” I wish I were exaggerating. I doubt these colleagues have any idea the gravity of the reference they make so off-the-cuff.
Apparently, to correct grammar for beginning foreign language students, is being “critical” and “negative”. It was actually likened to spanking. Again, I wish I were exaggerating.
What I most wish to share with these colleagues fearing for their jobs to the point of following whatever new command is coming down the pipeline without question: Do your research. You are supposed to be academics. Do you know who these orders are coming from? Have you heard of the Tavistock Institute? Do you knowingly follow the designs of the Council of Foreign Relations? Do you know why? Do you know their end game? Are you willfully or blindly engineering your own demise? Do you care?
Have you felt the shaming and manipulative techniques they are using to make sure you fall in line with the program, or to weed you out if you don’t?
Because, I have.