Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The best teaching compliment ever

FROM A FORMER STUDENT NAMED MEGHANN WHO IS NOW A JOURNALISM MAJOR AT SAN FRANCISCO STATE:

Jason Brent Johnson is a piece of shit

And I know that is libel, but whatever.

So I had this teacher for newswriting last semester who I thought would be great, because he's a full-time staff writer for the Chronicle and has a truly impressive resume of jobs and internships. Unfortunately, he was a terrible educator. And what's worse, he was completely unwilling to improve his skills. Okay, if a staff position isn't hacking it and you want to make a little money on the side, do what everyone else does and freelance. Don't teach a college class -- full of intelligent adults, some of which will be as old if not older than you are -- unless you truly enjoy it. [. . . .}
He read my first writing assignment in front of the class. So apparently, it was good enough to be published. I had taken journalism in high school, but he didn't know that. Did I mention that he assigned this first story to us without first practicing writing a full story in class? Yeah. We had written a couple leads, a couple nut graphs, and then it was, "ok kids, 500 word story. And I want interviews, but I'm not going to tell you that before you turn it in."

So after I received a C+ in this class because I hate reading the newspaper, I was pissed. I got A's on every single writing assignment and turned in all of my homework, but apparently that wasn't the ass-backwards point he was trying to prove. I managed to swing an A- in fucking statistics, but got my ass kicked in J221.

Up until now, it may seem that my grade was in proportion to my effort. However, it must be mentioned that in our review session for the final, he was still clarifying to several people in our class that a lead was supposed to contain about 50 words. As much as Olaina is a bitch, in that journalism class we learned how to write about 5 different kinds of stories and put together an 8 page newspaper in the time that this guy couldn't get across how to write a lead, let alone an entire story. Granted, I'm sure there were some idiots in that class, but if he hadn't wasted so much time on news quizzes and pod casts and other extraneous stuff, we might've actually mastered NEWSWRITING.

So I ran into Erna Smith, chair of the department and former Wall Street Journal reporter, in the pub lab yesterday and she asked me what I was doing for the summer. She asked me what I got in newswriting, I told her, and she said, "yeah, I saw that, and I thought, 'that can't be Meghann'." So there you have it. This woman has never seen me write more than a 2 page book critique and she knew that I couldn't have screwed over newswriting so badly.

So good riddance, Mr. Johnson. I'm sure I'll have a great time explaining the only C of my entire college career in my grad school interviews. 0 comments


And now my comments:
A beginning journalism student that considered me a "bitch" as her high school journalism teacher did recognize that I taught her apparently everything she knew about journalism once she got to college. And she chose to major in the field despite her dealings with a serious, demanding, sometimes moody teacher--which I think is a little amusing given the moodiness of teenage girls. But I digress. If I was occassionally bitchy as a high school journalism teacher and still a successful teacher (my goal did not include being my students' best friend or idol or favorite person) because the students learned what they hopefully set out to learn when they signed up for a journalism class.

I was a teacher. Students learned to be journalists. My job was done. And done well--imagine if they were not prepared to deal with bitchy journalists in their future.

Do note: it is no small victory for me not to be crestfallen at the "bitch" label. It is less than perfect. But I do not, could not, will not miss the compliment of being a better teacher than, oh say, a piece of shit from The Chronicle.

Thanks, Meghann, and best of luck out there in the journalism world and world-at-large. I know you'll encounter journalists of various personalities (I can't think of any I know who do not have some rough edges), and I also know you'll make friends with people whose purpose is friendship--and I hope they won't turn out to be bitches.

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