Log in


An Ignominious Incident In Academia

I am grateful to George Parrot of the University Of California at Sacramento  for giving me an excuse to use the word "ignominious", but beyond that I have little good to say about him. He achieved his infamy when he walked out of his classroom after nobody brought snacks. This violated a long standing class policy that somebody has to bring snacks to every class.

A lot of the criticism comes from his walking out of class in a snit. That is certainly unprofessional, and I have never done it. But that's not my problem with him. I had a Latin teacher when I was an undergrad who walked out of class. because nobody (including your humble blogger) had done any of the reading he assigned. I would defend him to this day for that decision. He very accurately said before he left "I don't see any point in my being here." It was the only time we ever had or ever would have seem him be so petulant. Almost all the rest of the time he was very approachable and likeable. Since we liked him so much, we all felt completely horrible about ourselves after he left (as we should have.)

My problem with George Parrot is his snack policy. According to the Chronicle Of Higher Education, Parrot "defends the snack requirement as a way of encouraging students to work collectively". Students don't need to be encouraged to work collectively.They do it on homework assignments all the time.And they  don't need to be brought through the socialization process by their professors. None of them spent their first 18 years locked in solitary confinement.

They certainly  shouldn't be forced to fulfill irrelevant requirements for the sake of some fuzzy social goal. Professors, as part of doing their job right, already make students do  enough things they don't want to do. But homework, quizzes, class attendance, etc. are all designed to help the students learn the material they signed up to learn.Bringing snacks to class doesn't help students learn psychology, at least not beyond giving them a glimpse into the tortured psyche of George Parrot.

Since this dust-up first occurred, Parrot has been reprimanded for walking out of class. And the snack policy seems to be gone. It's always nice to see sanity prevailing in academia.