Sid Burke opened the door the professor’s lounge and peeked inside. The room was an oak paneled monument to academia. Even the bartender looked elitist.
Sid froze. He couldn’t tell who was calling his name.
“Dr. Burke. Over here. Come, join us.”
In the far corner of the lounge sat three distinguished looking professors. One of them had his hand in the air, waving Sid over. It was Dr. Pieno, head of the English Department.
“Dr. Burke, please, join us,” said Dr. Pieno.
“Thank-you, Dr. Pieno,” said Sid. He nodded to the other two at the table.
“Excuse me. Let me introduce you to Dr. Shapiro, tenured professor of Sociology, and Dr. Egret, the leading expert on emergent Western subcultures. Dr. Burke is our new professor of twenty-first century literature,” said Dr. Pieno.
“I sense opportunities for collaboration,” said Dr. Egret. “What’s your view on flash fiction as a legitimate form of literature?”
“Well, I think web published writers like ‘vanyieck’ and others are innovators. The web’s allowed them to stretch traditional literary boundaries,” said Sid.
“Bull sh-. Vanyieck writes crap. Just another deluded ego in a mass of talentless hacks,” said Dr. Shapiro.
“Let’s give Dr. Burke a few days to settle in before we crush his spirit, eh? Speaking of spirits, Mr. Allen, please bring Dr. Burke a scotch on the rocks,” said Dr. Pieno.
“I don’t drink scotch.”
“You do now,” said Dr. Shapiro.
“Dr. Burke, let me ask you something a little less controversial. What’s your approach to undergraduate education?” asked Dr. Egret.
Sid took a deep breath as Mr. Allen set a glass in front of him.
“I’m of the opinion students and teachers engage in a dynamic relationship of mutual learning…”
“Oh, Good Lord. He’s read Parker Palmer,” said Dr. Shapiro. Dr. Egret laughed.
“We don’t teach. We confuse,” said Dr. Egret. Dr. Pieno nodded his agreement.
“With any subject you teach, confuse what you can,” said Dr. Egret.
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“By confusing an issue, you secure your position of expertise,” explained Dr. Pieno.
“But teaching’s about growing, letting your students enrich their lives, maybe even society as a whole,” said Sid.
“Talking to you’s the conversational equivalent of training a puppy with a rolled up newspaper,” snapped Dr. Shapiro. “Look around you, man. We’re surrounded by a bunch of oversexed, alcohol imbibed dullards. They’re not here to learn. They’re here to prolong their adolescence as long as possible before being thrust into adulthood.
“Look, you teach, whatever the hell it is. At the end of four years your students get a degree in what, English Lit? And what does that get them? An expensive piece of paper that cost their parents their retirement. No one is in danger of enriching society as a whole,” said Dr. Shapiro.
“Wow,” said Sid. He plunged into his scotch and came up coughing for air.
“What my esteemed colleague is trying to say is you’ve slightly misjudged your role as a professor here,” said Dr. Pieno.
“Yeah. We don’t exist for them, they exist for us,” said Dr. Shapiro.
“People see us as experts, so they come to us for knowledge. If we relinquish all we know, we’re no longer experts. But if we make them think they’ve learned something, they go off as stupid as when they arrived and we’re still experts See? Confusion. The sooner you embrace it, the better,” said Dr. Shapiro.
“Thanks for the insight,” said Sid. “Out of curiosity, what’s your area of expertise, Dr. Shapiro?”
“The Sociology of deviant behavior.”