regarding the sociology of depts & what next: resp to Chris

Chris, you are truly courageous. Simple disagreement is seen as hostility and unkindness. Everyone’s cute new trick for the week has to be praised even though it lacks merit entirely. A colleague who is not pulling his load cannot be talked to about it. And here I, too, may join the unpleasant side of the firing squad with you b/c, my slogan for it, “Marci is going through a bad divorce”, may be offensive to some (why I’m on my blog)………… but somehow Marci is allowed to continue to decimate her classroom with ineffective and even destructive teaching. Gossip trumps administrative action (maybe ‘trump’ is not the word to use these days), personal matters trump smooth running of a department, emotional attachments trump rational choices, and on and on.
Example: our dept head was a perfectionist and an excellent teacher with great relationships with students but her perfectionism was not restricted to her classroom; she insisted our small dept be first in everything. Most of us were not interested in being the best at kissing the admin’s ass. She could have some real emotional meltdowns and all of us tried to mitigate those for her. In the final analysis, she should have devoted her energies to her classroom and backed off to a moderate position on our dept’s compliance with various admin mandates. I had been dept chair so I knew there was leeway, but perfectionists think of leeway as sloppiness.
If we think about the goal of a sincere learner taking a fl, what next would have to be to learn more of the language. Can you order a hot dog? Can you negotiate a business contract? Can you argue your way out of a traffic citation? (not a good idea if you are Black just thank the nice, armed officer…… that’s cultural knowledge) The way you are able to read a Stieg Larsson noir novel in Swedish is to learn a lot of colloquial Swedish. If you come across stuff you comprehend but are curious why it is said that way, you can probably find a book on Swedish colloquialisms or find a pen pal in Sweden with a bit of linguistic knowledge. Guided reading in advanced courses is great but what else would work better? What then? Read until you get jokes in the language, which requires not only exquisite grammatical knowledge and vocabulary but cultural knowledge as well.

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