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Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

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  • #16
    Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

    Originally posted by SmokingTarpan View Post
    I can point you to several, if not quite a few, classes here at the U of I that haven't talked about it.
    I really doubt that even at the University of Idaho, that there are classes that it hasn't come up. Possible, I suppose, but I find it hard to believe.

    As far as being told to talk about it, I guess I'm interpreting the term "engage" quite differently than others. Personally, I take that to mean talk with your students if they want to talk, not drop what you're teaching to have lectures about shootings.
    Well, I'm a big fan of using English dictionaries to define English words, and it seems to me that if you're using the word 'engage' in terms of discussing something that the 6th definition is pretty obvious:
    Originally posted by AmericanHeritageDictionary
    en·gage (ĕn-gāj') pronunciation

    v., -gaged, -gag·ing, -gag·es.

    v.tr.

    1. To obtain or contract for the services of; employ: engage a carpenter.
    2. To arrange for the use of; reserve: engage a room. See synonyms at book.
    3. To pledge or promise, especially to marry.
    4. To attract and hold the attention of; engross: a hobby that engaged her for hours at a time.
    5. To win over or attract: His smile engages everyone he meets.
    6. To draw into; involve: engage a shy person in conversation.
    7. To require the use of; occupy: Studying engages most of my time.
    8. To enter or bring into conflict with: We have engaged the enemy.
    9. To interlock or cause to interlock; mesh: engage the automobile's clutch.
    10. To give or take as security.
    In any case, I have less sympathy for the guy after just having watched the CNN interview of him. When asked if he was trying to deliver a pro-gun message, he didn't seem to have an answer. His best response was, "I was delivering a message to be open-minded about it, I think." To me, it doesn't look like he had a clue what he was attempting to do, aside from stir some controversy, which makes him look like an asshat in my opinion.

    I still don't think he should have been fired, however.
    So what if his message was pro-gun, anti-gun, or pro-ninja star? He was doing what he was told to do, talking about the same thing the entire world was talking about, and he got fired for it? That should make Emmanuel College move to the bottom of a LOT of people's application lists.
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    • #17
      Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

      Originally posted by the article

      He said administrators had asked the faculty to engage students on the issue. But on Friday, he got a letter saying he was fired and ordering him to stay off campus.
      Originally posted by SmokingTarpan View Post
      Dunno about you guys, but I'd go to my financial accounting class to learn about... financial accounting. Not sit and listen to a lecture about gun control and violence.
      Yeah, that was my first thought too. But apparently all the teachers were asked to hold discussion with the students on the VT shooting. In the YouTube clip he talks about that further.
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      • #18
        Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

        I wonder if they where just looking for an excuse to fire him?

        Even so, they picked a pretty stupid thing for an excuse considering this is a college.
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        • #19
          Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

          As with all things that take place on a campus, I'm sure there is a political back story here that we are not getting.
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          • #20
            Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

            Originally posted by Steeler View Post
            As with all things that take place on a campus, I'm sure there is a political back story here that we are not getting.
            In this matter I'm inclined to agree. In the YouTube vid he kinda starts off on a rant about "prissyness"...it's to be assumed he probably had ongoing differences with the administration there at the school and that this may have been the last straw. But I agree with a previous poster that this was the dumbest of all the straws to fire him over.
            Last edited by Atomic Dog; 04-24-2007, 10:08 AM.
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            • #21
              Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

              Originally posted by War.mongeR1 View Post
              Lol. All's quiet on the western front.
              Northern front ... Great White Northern Front.
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              • #22
                Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

                Reading about this, I just remembered my ancient history teacher from Sophomore year in HS. We were covering the crusades, and he was trying to illustrate what "sacking" a city meant. He went on this long, very graphic description of heavily armored knights on warhorses towering over footsoldiers and civilians and hacking them to pieces. At one point he wanted to show what "cleaving" meant, so he stood over me (as if on horseback) as I was at my desk and, using his hand as if it were the business end of a claymore, drew a line from the crook of my neck down to my heart.

                "And that's how you'd kill a Saracen."

                Cool guy. Ran a class called "Man's Inhumanity to Man" which was a real harsh eye-opener. Would bring in WWI relics, carbines, grenade casings, all sorts of things for demonstration. They made him stop after Columbine, when everyone decided that the world was too dangerous for children to live in it.
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                • #23
                  Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

                  Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
                  I wonder if they where just looking for an excuse to fire him?
                  I tend to think this is the case as well. I don't have any specifics but I do know the political climate of that particular college. I taught at the college of the holy cross, a jesuit university that is nearby. the social and moral climate at those schools is indeed a bit draconian. from the reports however, I would be a bit shocked to hear a colleague fired for such a class.

                  that being said, I teach at a fairly liberal college now and made a conscious decision to not discuss this in my psychology experimental methods classes I am teaching this semester.

                  I weighed the educational value of having a discussion on it against my ability to steer the conversation towards an educational goal. it seemed like it would not really accomplish much educationally, so I did not even mention it.

                  What did disturb me was that my schools only reaction to this for the 3 days following this were religious events. I was about to call for a secular meeting on the topic when the college announced such an event.

                  different colleges have different views on what should take place in the classroom. in some schools it is very much expected that big current events should be discussed in classes where the topic is not even related.

                  when 911 happend I was was teaching class. the following day we had a discussion on a project I was working on for darpa concerning psychological and physical markers for terrorist intentions.

                  the question darpa wanted to know was if it was theoretically possable to develop an electronic device that could detect a bomb laden terrorist walking in a crowd if the bomb was concealed and small. basicaly, is there something in the gait of a terrorist ( was working in human movement science at the time, a weird branch of psychology.)

                  I considered doing the same thing for my methods class over this shooting incident, but primarily out of fear for my job, I did not bring it up. during 911 I was teaching at UConn and being a public university, they have more protections for academic freedom. a private school really can fire you for no reason or any reason they want. I have yet to obtain tenure.

                  the guy that was fired was at a conservative religious school. the teaching method he used seemed confrontational in that he pointed an imaginary gun at students and pretended to shoot them. this is a great educational tool as it forces the student to put themselves in the position of those students at VT. but at a conservative Christian school, he probably should have known that some student would complain that it was too confrontational. if those parents have clout (wealthy donors or potential future donors?). or if he was not very popular...

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                  • #24
                    Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

                    Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                    I really doubt that even at the University of Idaho, that there are classes that it hasn't come up. Possible, I suppose, but I find it hard to believe.
                    Heh, University of Illinois. :P Unless you were saying that even in a remote place like Idaho, they're talking about it. But honestly, my office sits on the other side of a wall from one of our most heavily used computer classrooms (not for computer classes, everything from econ to community health), and I walk through the classes on a regular basis to get to other people's offices. I have yet to see a discussion on the VT stuff, and there are days where classes run from 8am - 7pm. I'm sure there might be schools where every class feels the need to drop their subject for a few days to discuss the shooting, but my campus doesn't seem to be one of them. And we're pretty big.

                    [quoteSo what if his message was pro-gun, anti-gun, or pro-ninja star?[/QUOTE]

                    His message could have be pro-bestiality for all that I care. My point here is that, aside from my opinion that he should stick to teaching finances, he himself didn't seem to have a clue what his message was ("I guess", "I think"). He appeared to be awfully confused when questioned by CNN, which leads me to believe he likely just wanted to stir up a controversial topic.

                    Originally posted by ednos
                    Honestly, as someone directly affected by the event, I've been trying to forget about it, but every time I see the name I'm dragged back into it.
                    I'm curious here, and you're free to tell me to piss off if you like. All media extravaganza aside, would it (or does it, if it happens now) it piss you off or upset you if you walked into your accounting class and the prof said, "Today we're going to talk about the shooting instead of money"?
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                    • #25
                      Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

                      Originally posted by Sir_Brass View Post
                      That's b/c it is a UNIVERSITY. Professors are supposed to use their judgement as to how best to do this, not be spoon-fed HOW to do as they're asked.
                      Exactly WHAT qualifications does a Financial Accountant have when it comes to a case like this? If you are going to hold people accountable with how they inform their students of information outside their area of expertise, you SHOULD spoon-feed them info. ESPECIALLY if you plan to fire anyone who you could act in a manner inconsistent with your goals.

                      Unless you think any cop with a badge can handle hostage negotiation or any teacher can show you how to do CPR, you have to accept that when accountability comes into play with a job, you need to have qualified people doing the work. Schools have grief counselors for a reason.

                      Oh and Universities are about spoon-feeding information. That's how you learn.

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                      • #26
                        Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

                        What's key (at least to me) in all of this is the fact that it seems that no students were upset/offended with the professor's actions. Why would they fire him if this were the case? Shouldn't it matter most whether or not someone cares?

                        I'm gonna agree with the above that there must be more to it than meets the eye.
                        "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

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                        • #27
                          Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

                          my guess is that one or two students found it offensive. and those students have very wealthy parents. and in additon, the department did not like this guy allready.

                          “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!” Benjamin Franklin

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                          • #28
                            Re: Professor Fired over VA Tech Discussion

                            Originally posted by SmokingTarpan View Post
                            My point here is that, aside from my opinion that he should stick to teaching finances, he himself didn't seem to have a clue what his message was ("I guess", "I think"). He appeared to be awfully confused when questioned by CNN, which leads me to believe he likely just wanted to stir up a controversial topic.
                            Yeah, and if the discussion wasn't started by his students, it still goes back to his instructions to "engage".

                            <shrug>

                            I've never heard of the school before, and I'll now boo and hiss every time I ever hear it mentioned again.
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