Sunday, August 25, 2013

Goodbye Miss Anonymous

I don't think I'm going to be hearing from Miss Anonymous any more.

Miss Anonymous had been following this blog quite religiously for some time before she was finally moved to weigh in on the discussion just five days ago. What motivated her to jump into the fray? It was nothing I was a letter from one of my online supporters (we'll call him PhDGuy, encouraging me to keep up the fight and saying that my story should be made into a movie. This was too much for Miss Anonymous, and here is what she wrote:
Yeah! I'd really be interested to see the part where he laid hands on his students and was disciplined for doing so.

Before being so quick to idolize this man, perhaps you ought to acquaint yourself with the grossly unprofessional conduct he is accused of. Whether or not the university has mucked up the due process he was entitled to doesn't excuse the purported reasons for his removal in the first place.

Regardless of the outcome, I would neither be comfortable with this man teaching children of any age or level of ability, nor with working with this man as a colleague.
PhDGuy wrote back, saying that if you read my whole blog, I had obviously been screwed by the system. To which Miss Anonymous agreed, saying "I'm not saying he wasn't". Her real concern, so she claimed, my suitability to be certified as a teacher. Regardless of whether the U of W had "mucked up" my due process, she continued she would be highly uncomfortable knowing that someone could be certified as a teacher when that person had been accused of being
unwilling to be receptive to students, to follow established curricula, and to be a cooperative member of a collaborative team within an established hierarchy
...even though, as she went on to say, those complaints had not yet stood up to scrutiny!

Remember, in her original post, she expressed outrage at my manhandling of students and "grossly unprofessional behavior"...writing in a tone of voice which suggested that as an insider, she had some special knowledge to horrible to repeat in detail, but which was disturbing enough to override any right to due process that I might otherwise have claimed. And now here she is, after being called upon to justify herself, saying that I deserved to be kicked out of the program because I wasn't a team player.

I was pretty sure by now that Miss Anonymous was one of my former classmates, and she confirmed in the next day when PhDGuy wrote back again in support of my fight, and she took him to task for expressing an opinion when he "wasn't even in the same classes" (as she was with me).

Now, over the year or so that I've been doing this blog, I've gotten pretty used to people posting ignorant and vitriolic diatribes against me, and I'm not all that motivated to argue with them. But the little side-show going on between Miss Anonymous and PhDGuy made me long for the days when I used to spar with another one-time adversary of mine, who posted under the pseudonym Miss Redboots. So I posted a blog about her, pointing out what I thought was the fundamental flaw in her position: that ultimately, she found nothing objectionable about the fact that a professor would report me to the Dean for something I wrote on an essay. And this prompted a fresh response from Miss Anonymous (which you can read under the same link. The chain of events is a little confused because PhDGuy was also posting under the acronym "Anonymous", and then a third Anonymous joined in as well...she was the first responder to my article on Ms. Redboots. But you'll figure it out...)

Miss Anonymous wrote a lengthy post in three parts where she claimed it was not me she was against, but just the idea that a third party would conclude from reading my blog that I was some kind of hero. As for me, she had in no way intended her comments to be taken as a personal attack...on the contrary, she had enjoyed being able to take part in class discussions with  me, she had found the occasions on which we worked together to be "great learning experiences", and she respected and admired me as a scholar and former classmate. As for my removal from the program,
 Please do not misinterpret my opinion of *you*, Marty. Claiming that the statements brought to bear against you suggest something lacking in the ability to be a "professional" teacher (at least according to the boundaries of professional conduct set forth in Manitoba) is neither intended as a criticism or as a personal attack. There are some definite requirements with respect to working with children (even adolescents bordering on the age of majority) that not everyone has (not even some certified teachers).

I have to say I found her protestations of innocence to be out of synch with the vitriolic tone of her original comments, which I quoted above; but never mind. If she wanted to be friends, that was great. I was especially interested in some things she had recalled about a particular in-class project which we had done together. So I wrote a follow-up post about the day we made Concept Maps, hoping she would follow up with her own recollections. Which she did.

Miss Anonymous remembered the bare facts in very much the same way as I did, but our interpretations were widely divergent. She found that my retelling of the story betrayed certain character flaws which were material to my ultimate suitability as a teacher; in particular, she objected to my jumping to conclusions about classmates and their attitudes towards me, including one in particular, whom for the sake of convenience we were both referring to as "Moonface". (Actually, I don't know why she wouldn't remind me of his name, which I had forgotten. We had explicitly identified him in any case.) She concluded her feedback by sniffing that any case, this entire discussion is quite out of step with the rest of your blog. Aside from the fact that it is based entirely on opinion and speculation about who thought what about whom. It seems to be rife with generalizations, and it does nothing to the standing of your legal case against the university.
But I was enjoying the discussion! And I had another Moonface story that I was dying to tell. So since it was my blog, that's just what I did.

It wasn't long before I heard back from Miss Anonymous. Again, the broad factual details of what took place were not in dispute. But as I read through her lengthy response, it became more and more clear that she was looking for every possible nuance, every dramatic excess or expression of opinion in my re-telling of the story, as one more reason to justify the fact that I had been kicked out of the program. Even though the story I told had been rather innocent, and certainly not something that anyone had complained about or written me up for.

So I asked her: since she had confirmed my version of events with Moonface, what did he think? Did he agree with her that I should have been kicked out of the program?

He did not. That is, he didn't thing I should have been kicked out of the practicum, which is the way Miss Anonymous conveyed the question to him. He thought I should have at the very least been given the benefit of the review process in the Student Practicum Handbook. Or, as Miss Anonymous added, "That makes one of us". Which I understood as her backhanded way of saying she thought I had gotten all the due process I deserved in terms of the practicum.

But that wasn't my question. Neither Miss Anonymous nor Moonface were direct witnesses to anything I had done at Gordon Bell. I wanted to know if she thought I should have been kicked out based on what she had actually seen of me. Especially in light of the warm feelings she had expressed on the previous day. What of the horrific behavior that she surely must have witnessed based on the Registrar's letter which I posted on line here: the rudeness and disruptiveness, the insulting of an ESL interpreter who had been invited as a guest, and the time I made a girl cry. What about all that? So I asked her flat out: What did you actually see me do that justified kicking me out of University?

To her credit, Miss Anonymous allowed that Moonface himself had personally seen no reason for me  to be expelled. She quotes him as saying "No, I don't think his behavior, from what I saw, justified being withdrawn from the program, either. I don't see an issue with being vocal about your opinion, as long as it isn't malicious... and I never really saw him as that."

But as for her, she remained adamant! As for as the specific outrages I was accused of, Miss Anonymous had no comment...which under the circumstances, I take as a pretty clear indication that never saw anything like what I was accused of in the Registrar's letter. But even though she hadn't personally seen me do anything overtly wrong, it was still plain to her that I was unfit to be a teacher just because of my basic personality. Or, as she wrote:

For me, personally? Seeing the way you react to conflict - like this - states more than enough about your suitability....The incidents you list, in and of themselves, perhaps raise an eyebrow, but for me, it's in how you've responded to the allegations - by going up in arms.
So according to her, those people (including herself) who created and supported the false and malicious accusations about me are worthy of functioning as role models for our children, but because I responded to those lies by fighting back, I am unfit.

Now, as much as I enjoyed our brief five-day relationship, I'm guessing that after today's post, Miss Anonymous is not going to be responding any further to what she reads in this blog. So I'm going to bid her a fond farewell. But in the meantime, she's got me reminiscing about some in-class experiences that I think might be of interest to my readers, as well as shedding some light as to the nature of the education system and the teacher training program. So stay tuned for some more stories...



  1. He Who Carries FireSeptember 5, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Shanah Tovah, Marty,

    I'm a long time listener but first time caller. I do not believe Anonymous ever said you were a "fighter," rather she said you "threw up your arms." Both in class and in this blog, you react to conflict by manipulating situations in such a way that you never have to incorporate another person's view into your own: you either talk over people until the clock runs out on a class, you hide behind written words instead of meeting people for discussions (consider two instances: your ongoing resistance to meet with Colin, the registrar, in person, and the ongoing insistence that he meet your demands through e-mail; as well as an instance I remember from early on in my first year when I overheard instructor asking if you would meet with him over coffee--a friendly request, to be sure--and you dismissed him and walked away), and when neither of these methods works, you declare the other party, like you declare Suzy from the Calvin and Hobbes comic, a bully.

    Consider the cohort you left (as I noted, a conversation with the registrar might have had you re-instated after Winter break and I do not see your removal to be as one sided as you make it out to be), many members of that cohort struggled through assignments that we found tedious, time-consuming, and on occasion pointless, yet we stayed together and got through it. As Cormac McCarthy would say (or at least The Man in _The Road_ would say) we carried the fire, we stuck together, and I would contend that we all retained our individuality while incorporating ideas that we learned from our instructors and from one another. I recall one conversation I had in May with a colleague and we noted how, although we truly despised many assignments we had been given by one of our instructors, we had incorporated many of her activities into our classroom practices--and they worked!

    This is what it means to be both an individual and a fighter: it means to work with others to make your ideas matter. As a teacher, I choose to carry on my practice by carrying this fire.

    As for Moonface, I ask that you begin to refer to him as M.F., because if he is who I think he is, he truly is a Bad Ass Mother Effer who will have my back when it counts. His sense of justice is second to none. I truly believe he will go on to inspire and be inspired by others. He is a fighter and continues to accomplish the wondrous and will continue to do so while you hide behind the "Masters" whom you so happily bow down before while they artificially justify your individuality.


  2. Based on what you saw in class, do you think they were right to kick me out of Univeristy?

  3. He Who Carries FireSeptember 6, 2013 at 8:02 AM


    As I suggest above, you were not kicked out of the University for your behavior in class, rather you were ultimately kicked out of University for your unwillingness to participate in a process that might have resulted in corrective measures--not the punitive measures that you so quickly assume were being taken against you--and you might have gotten a second kick at the can and in the process found allies in people you so easily dismiss as being against you.

    In regards to your behaviour in class, I do believe some sort of corrective measures needed to be taken. I often found myself wanting to leave class when you got up on your proverbial soap box; I was reluctant to give you an audience and validate the manner in which you opposed our instructors' course content, ability to teach, right to teach, etc. While differing opinions are important to University discourse, telling professors they are wrong after stating you have not taken the time to read the course material, let alone the syllabus, is insulting to both your instructors and your classmates. You may have paid to take courses, but so had your classmates; furthermore, your classmates had invested time to read the course material and often did their best to make you feel welcome. When it becomes apparent that one student is not only hijacking class time but also making other students less likely to participate in discussion, the University has to do something. It tried on several occasions to effect a more moderate outcome by inviting you to speak with its agents, including sessional instructors, deans, and registrars, yet you choose not to engage in this process and seem to have left the University little choice but to suspend you.

    Given your behavior in class, would I want to share a degree with you--as that is what it means to hold the same degree as someone else from the same institution--? No.

  4. Would you be willing to come to court and testify to what you have written above? If you would, please get in touch with Mr. Meronek of Darcy and Deacon. It might be a year or two before we go to trial, but I'm hoping they will want to call some witnesses as to what was going on in the classroom.