, , , , , , , , ,

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, April 14, 2010. (http://http://teachingjobsportal.com).

Because there’s a website called RateMyProfessors.com, there also ought to be one called Rate My Students.com. Unfortunately, the only thing we have as faculty that indicates student performance is their grade in a course. But student demeanor, attitudes toward learning and their professors, about their level of commitment to being good students? For that, the only thing we have to go on are our communication exchanges with students and their responses, particularly on an evaluation. Below is one such exchange:

—–Original Message—–
From: Anonymous Student
Sent: Sat 9/10/2011 12:45 AM
Subject: Paper feedback question

I mentioned in my paper that the US feared soviet control of the Middle East and you said that it was never a concern. However, on page 61 of “Present Tense” It mentions the soviets backing a separatist movement in Iran and pressed Turkey to give the Soviet’s joint control over the Dardanelles which make some in the US government nervous that “the soviets would make a sweep across Turkey and Iran, which would give it control over much of the Middle East and its oil reserves.” The book then mentions that Truman sent a Naval task force into the Mediterranean as a warning to the Soviets.

My question is, how was the Soviet presence in the Middle East hardly a concern if it made Truman nervous enough to take military action. Granted it wasn’t a concern for long, and I could have gone more in depth, but I’m still getting conflicting information. Thanks

On Sat, Sep 10, 2011 at 6:28 AM, Donald Collins wrote

Thanks for your email. You didn’t get credit for this point because it was a blanket and general statement, without any detail or nuance. You made it sound as if the Middle East was on the same level of concern as Europe, East Asia and the US itself. Plus, Turkey was and is not considered an oil state, and US concern over Greece and Turkey was much more a European concern than a Middle Eastern one — it helped lead to the first installment of what became the Marshall Plan. Only with Iran do you have a small point, but Iran wasn’t mentioned in your paper. And, more to that point, if the Middle East was such a concern, why didn’t Truman send a naval task force into the Persian Gulf in the late 1940s?

Yes there was fear and concern, but the actual decisions and actions that came out of it were so limited that one cannot simply say that the US feared control of the Middle East because of their tremendous oil reserves — in 1947…

But the real issue here is that you lost sight of the forest on this topic question, concentrating instead on this tree regarding the Middle East. You did not do enough to outline and analyze the factors involved in promoting and escalating the Cold War. You talked about events as examples of the Cold War, with some (like the Middle East) lacking in factual detail or explanation as to what, if any, factor or factors they fit in. Like the Soviet’s desire for a buffer zone in Eastern Europe and with eastern Germany. Or the US policy of aggressive containment of communism, as your example of the Middle East could’ve indicated, if it had been more specific — the Korean War or the Berlin Airlift are much better examples of this factor. Or the nuclear weapons and related systems races, including for long-range bombers, missiles, submarines from 1949 onward — bringing both countries ever closer to a possible hot and nuclear war.

The textbooks are just that, textbooks. They are not the Bible, and they are not even ones that I would choose to use if I could order my own textbooks. They are a guide, but, then again, so are my lecture notes, which would have helped clear up much of your confusion on this issue. I hope that this helps.

Professor Collins

From: Anonymous Student
Sent: Sat 9/10/2011 4:09 PM
Subject: Re: Paper feedback question

I figured the main problem was not going in depth enough, but I was worried about lingering for too long on certain subjects.

Anonymous Student’s response via evaluation (received October 27, 2011):

Donald Collins is very well versed in the events of the civil rights movement and not much else. Several times during the course he marked down assignments that I had completed based on what he incorrectly perceived to be factual errors. The one time I brought this up to him via email he wrote it off as “not important enough in the grand scheme of things” ignoring the fact that he stated that an event had never occurred despite being talked about in more than one of the assigned texts for the class….I still received a low grade on that assignment as well as others because of Collins’ seeming insistence that everything be tied into the civil rights movement regardless of how unrelated what I was writing about may have been to it…

This isn’t the first time I’ve received a racist response from a student for doing my job, and I’m certain it won’t be the last. But if I could, I’d recommend that this person learn how to be a good student first before pushing his deficiencies and bigotry onto me and other faculty.