Wednesday, April 06, 2011

WTF: Welcome to the World of Won't

Sorry if the letters offend you but it really is the phrase running around in my head when I think of this: One of my first jobs was a laborer. Unionized but still low pay. Florida sun, 8 hours often in the mud and so tired at the end of the day it was a beer and bed. The only disagreements were between the foreman and the union steward over how many cinder blocks I should carry at a time. I kept my mouth shut and needed the job. Just like being a law professor, I knew if the truth were out, a zillion of people could do what I did. I did not say when I would come to work, how long I would stay, what I would do, when I would do it. I just did it every day to get a check.

If anyone has had that type of job -- the type most Americans have had or do have then their only reaction to law professors has to be WFT?

Like the meeting I was in the other day in which the question came up of why someone only taught a handful of students each year. The answer? "I talked to her and she won't teach more than that." WTF?? WON'T?? When did won't become an employee's response. Yes, working Americans, law professors get to say that and no one gives them a spanking or fires them.

"Dude, gotta be out of town for a couple weeks to teach somewhere else. Don't worry, I'll work when I can (or not), a little extra here and there or maybe 5 days straight at end." Law professors reading this know I am not kidding but this is fair game if you have a job in which you "won't" do things and the only response from the person nominally in charge is "oh." WTF

How about this one. Don't want to teach your classes at 9 or 4 or on Friday,Monday or Wednesday (or at all). OK, my dear what would work for you in the world of "won't." WTF?

OK, how about not really teaching in person but taping an entire course and them picking your your check as usual. Tape for two days and semester is done. Is this the same as phoning it in? I wish I could have phoned it in the day my finger was almost taken off while I was hooking a giant bucket of cement to a crane. WFT?

You don't really want to teach what the law is but what you wish it were. No problem, if you are in the world of "won't." No one knows and so what if the students' clients are blindsided by the attorney on the other side who actually does know the law. WTF?

What? me grade exams? Don't worry, just use that recycled machine graded multiple choice one. WFT?

I think one of the qualifications for being a law professor is to do hard labor (not in jail although that is a thought) in order to get just a taste of reality and humility. As best I can tell those who do not make use of the "won't" culture, in John Lennon's words are "still fucking peasents as far as I can see" or they will be treated that way.


Anonymous said...

I spent my three years in law school in constant astonishment of the type of behavior you describe. It left me with no respect for the legal academy.

RobertF said...

Great post, but don't blame her. Blame either whomever keeps the system in place that makes it impossible to punish such behavior or the chain of command, if it has the ability to punish and simply won't.

Anonymous said...

I worked as a laborer on a union construction site. It left me with a healthy degree of skepticism about the various union trades. They were all so careful about the boundaries of their job and just sat there watching while I did the jobs that they wouldn't deign to do, even though it held up the job to have me running around to be a gap filler for their jobs (e.g., using a shovel where the heavy equipment was too close to a structure). They just sat there, took a double break, and watched me do the real work. Come to think of it, it's actually quite similar to academics.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

Yes, the person working least hard was the union steward. Often too worried about whether I was using the claw (allowed) or hitting (not allowed) end of my hammer.

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