Well, this answers the question of why those claiming to be dissatisfied customers of mine ("Yeah, I was in that class and I think you suck too") need to vent anonymously about this post, rather than discussing our pedagogical differences in office hours. Apparently, at Dartmouth, classroom conflict has reached such a pitch that a teacher is suing her students. I had not realized that there are dimensions of my vast power to dominate others that I have not yet activated.
OK, seriously: I'm sure there is more to this than meets the eye, and both teacher and students have clearly run off the rails in what appears to be a Lord of the Flies situation. But I think the department chair and this woman's senior colleagues may have some explaining to do as to why there hasn't been a mentoring intervention at an earlier date. Things like this don't just happen suddenly, in one class, one semester. Do they? Enquiring minds want to know.
Thanks to my fellow Zenith bloggers for this tip. You might also want to go to University Diaries for several typically incisive posts offering commentary on and extra links for this sad little tale of a classroom run amok: the full story actually reads like one of those movies with Bruce Willis where a city bus full of children and old people has been taken over by terrorists and is careening through the streets of a city completely out of control while the mayor and the chief of police negotiate with an insane dictator. Except with email.
You know, here's a rule of thumb for you: when you can't decide how to respond to a typical academic problem, whether it be with a student, a colleague, or the university administration, ask yourself: what would Margaret Soltan do?