Stop expecting academia to love you

*Ray Salazar says the professor needs to apologize to Tiffany Martinez, but she should apologize to hersellf as well for not “recognizing their academic self-worth.” Think he’s right? VL

Chicago-now-syhagBy Ray Salazar, The White Rhino (6.5 minute read)

I read a disturbing description of poor judgment on a teacher’s—a professor’s—part. In class, in front of all the students, a Suffolk University professor challenged the authenticity of a student’s writing. A skeptical professor handed graduate student Tiffany Martinez a graded assignment that questioned her use of the transition word “hence.”

The professor wrote “This is not your word.”

“Not” was underlined twice.

Martinez describes, “My professor handed me back a paper (a literature review) in front of my entire class and exclaimed ‘this is not your language.’ ”

This graduate student expressed the internal struggle the professor’s comment generated or reaffirmed: “Their blue pen was the catalyst that opened an ocean of self-doubt that I worked so hard to destroy . . . I am hurting because my professor assumed that the only way I could produce content as good as this was to ‘cut and paste.’ I am hurting because for a brief moment I believed them.”

As I read the rest of Martinez’s blog post, I began to hear the voices of my high-school students who speak about the dream of going to college. Many of them, like Martinez, will be the first in their families. I heard the insecurities that begin their sentences when they speak.

I understand that first-generation insecure ambition. I am the first in my family to go to college, to earn a master’s degree, to be a published writer.

When I read Martinez’s words, I heard the insecurity that I challenge more and more these days in class.

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“I was just going to say,” a student said the other day.

I brusquely interrupted: “No. No, you were not just going to say,” I snapped. “Don’t minimize your ideas. Say, ‘I have this idea to share.’ Go!” READ MORE 

Since 1995, Ray has been an English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. In 2003, Ray earned an M.A. in Writing, with distinction, from DePaul University. In 2009, he received National Board Certification. His writing aired on National Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio many times and have been published in the Chicago Tribune and CNN. For thirty years, Ray lived in Chicago’s 26th Street neighborhood. Today, he lives a little more south and a little more west in the city with his wife, son, and daughter.

[Photo courtesy of Tiffany Martinez]

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