By Max R. Weller
I joined the Facebook group “Help Patti Adler stay at CU!!!” so I might learn more about the entire situation, including Prof. Adler’s approach to teaching using role-playing by students rather than classroom discussion with real street people.
I’ve been sorely disappointed by the almost total lack of both insight into so-called deviance and any consideration of legitimate criticism for Prof. Adler’s “skits” — from someone like me whom she would label a deviant.
Many of her supporters who post to that Facebook group are blindly following their guru; they will tolerate no suggestions whatsoever about ways Prof. Adler might improve her class. Like Ward Churchill’s rabid supporters not so long ago, they’ve circled the wagons.
A few acknowledge that there are better ways than she is currently employing. One gentleman with academic credentials more impressive than Patti Adler’s said this:
“When I was sociology chair at UCSB Mitchell Duneier was teaching intro to 500 students at the same time he was doing the research for his book Sidewalk, on homeless men And women in New York. I supported his effort to bring in several of his subjects to participate in co-teaching the course. It was risky but in the end very effective. There was departmental accountability and Mitch’s academic freedom was never threatened. I believe the UCSB administration was as proud as we were about what he accomplished in that class. At least from a distance, it seems to me that every party involved in the CU controversy could have acted more responsibly.”
BTW, his comment was responding to the proposal I’d made that Prof. Adler find a well-spoken prostitute/drug addict to address her class on deviance. Such individuals DO exist, I can assure you. Instead, Prof. Adler seems content to: 1) take the lazy approach with student “skits”; and 2) bask in the adoration of her sycophants as she plays the role of martyr to academic freedom.
Nobody is “forcing” Prof. Adler to accept any retirement offer which might have been made by CU administration. However, if she chooses to leave her students will probably be the better off for it, especially if she’s replaced by a professor who insists that students learn critical thinking skills.
Shouldn’t that be the primary goal of any university professor, no matter the subject?
Addendum 12/26/2013: Well, I’m not surprised it happened; I’ve been kicked out of the Facebook group linked to above and blocked from viewing it as well (or the group page has been taken down).
My final post there included the link to this website called Rate My Professors. It uses a 5 point rating scale for students to evaluate their professors, shows that the average rating for ALL professors at CU is 3.68, and lists Patti Adler’s rating as 3.3 — in the average range. It also shows that there are 61 professors in the CU sociology department, and 1,799 total at the university.
The figure that jumped out at me was the 94 student ratings, both positive and negative, Prof. Adler has received; far more than anyone else in her department. It seems clear that she really does generate a lot of emotional response from students in her classes, compared to other CU sociology professors.
We all know about the outpouring of support FOR Prof. Adler, some of it verging on hysteria. To counterbalance that, here are several of the negative comments students have made (taken from the website above):
Patti Adler is not the ideal professor. She is rude, and also makes HER books that she wrote mandatory and you are unable to sell them back–and their rather pricey. The TAs do all the work, most of the learning takes place in the labs. Her exam format is awful and notes are not posted and hard to follow. I don’t recommend this class.
I honestly thought this class would be fun! I was right until the first exam came along. The exams ARE HARD HARD HARD. I read all the material and still got a BAD grade. Patti makes her exams too hard for a 1000 level course. The lectures are fun buuuuuut the most common grade in the class is a D and not worth taking (in terms of your GPA).
I absolutely HATED this class! She’s so weird, her tests were INSANELY hard, I spent $80 on her book that I can’t sell, and I honestly got NOTHING out of taking this class other than a C on my transcript and I am a student that typically gets A’s and B’s. If you’re considering taking this as an elective, I suggest you find another class!
This class was such a waste of time! Tests were really hard and they were all about applying definitions from her book which you’ll never care about again once the test is over. The only sort of good thing about this class was her ridiculous lectures. She’s one strange woman. I do not understand why this class is so popular!
Patti Adler is a self-absorbed egomaniac, her Deviance class is filled with Patti’s life accomplishments interspersed with wacked out theories and an occasional swear word–which is only entertaining to the inexperienced freshmen. I left class with nothing more than writer’s cramp from the four hour exams–its a 1000 level class, get a grip lady!
I ended up HATING this class. Her tests are memorizing a bunch of pointless lists. Her TA’s graded sooooo hard. The guy took off points left and right b/c I didn’t say exactly what he wanted me to. I should have complained. Should have fought the unfair grading more. But I didn’t, and now my GPA suffers. I would never EVER recommend her.
The Teacher is not very Nice and considers herself a CU celebrity. Class is somewhat interesting, but seems kinda ridiculous they make soo many take it
These comments were made in a time frame from 2012 back to 2005 (top to bottom).
There are others, but you get the drift.
I have no doubt that Patti Adler can choose to remain at CU as long as she wants, despite the paranoid conspiracy theories of persecution being put forth by her more outspoken fans.