In a previous post, I mentioned an issue with one of my students who is going to college on a military base. At the end, I said that I would work out what this teacher wanted and was going to be like with a little time. Well, I have, and it's not good.
There area few ways I can figure out what the teacher is like and wants. One is through their comments, syllabus, and what the student tells me. The other is by listening to recordings of the class. Obviously, the latter is the best way to know what is going on, but I can't listen to all of each class she takes. That being said, I can scan through what is going on at key points.
First of all, the teacher is a bully, but a crafty one. He's the sort who you could easily imagine beating his wife in his private time. In the classes and in written correspondence, he criticizes, berates, and pushes the students on the one hand and then offers to have lunch with them, take them on tours of the base, and is nice to them on the other. The "carrot" and the "stick" approach really smacks of the man who gives his wife a black eye and then brings her flowers the next day.
Second, he will brook no explanation or argument which can be (mis)construed in any way to be what he imagines to be a challenge to his authority. If you say anything, he'll go off on an attack. For instance, he said some things which made it sound like my student had been drawing her ideas and information from external sources rather than offering up her aggregate knowledge based on being 45 years old and having taken a lot of other classes and insisted that she reference her ideas. When she explained that the source of her ideas was not from somewhere else per se, but from a body of accumulated knowledge, he got pissed off and wrote back a highly defensive letter saying that even he (and he must be the authority, after all) references 90% of what he writes.
She went out of her way to say that she'd be happy to find references after the fact and do what he wanted, but he seemed to completely ignore that part. Rather than see what she said as an explanation that she was not plagiarizing or lifting ideas without giving proper credit, he read it as a challenge to his authority to dictate how papers were to be written. This is the behavior of a bully who is insecure with any opinion other than his own.
My student was quite upset by his reaction, of course, and is going to write an apology. One thing about the vast majority of Japanese people, particularly women, is that you don't have to bully them to get them to study or cooperate. This guy doesn't seem to know the difference between teaching children (which he did in the past) and adults who are studying of their own volition and don't need to be pushed hard to do the work.
What is more, this teacher's way of explaining himself is not very clear and his requirements for weekly papers is absurd. Every week, the students must write two essays, but he expects them to reference them like term papers, even when part of the content they're answering questions for contains opinion questions. It's ridiculous for someone to expect you to provide references for their opinions. You get the feeling this guy is more in love with the letter of the law rather than the spirit when it comes to education. He's more interested in students following form than showing they have learned and digested the material.
Finally, he follows in the footsteps of a long line of teachers my student has encountered at this particular school on the base who does not actually know how to lecture. He spent the class I listened to relating old war stories of when he worked as a cop, criticizing other students, bragging about himself, and offering up his opinions on anecdotal cases. A structured, informative academic lecture was nowhere in the room. While I would definitely say that discussion of prominent anecdotal cases can be very effective in teaching material, this is not what he was doing. This is mostly finding a way to bullshit one's way through the time.
I told my student that, if she is ever hassled by the school in any way, I am going to fight for her like nobody's business because she has forked over a lot of money to go to that college and has never had a proper face-to-face lesson or teacher. The teachers, when they are qualified, are only so on paper. None of them seems to know how to conduct a real lesson or prepare and present material. They just hang out and chatter about opinions one way or another and make the students learn from the book.
At any rate, I'm actually responsible for my student getting in Dutch with the bully teacher because I advised her to explain things to him and helped her write the letter. This was a mistake on my part because I should have seen the carrot and stick thing as a bullying tactic, but I was viewing it rather personally instead. That is, I thought he was being nice to try and get her on as a private student (that is, steal her from me) since he says he teaches Japanese people privately. The truth is that this was an egotistical way of looking at it. It had nothing to do with what I might lose and everything to do with this guy's personality.