I Like What I Know

Michael told me that Martin, a well-respected typographer and his former Advertising Design professor at Kean University, was taking a semester off from teaching and that Rose, the Department Head, was looking for an adjunct to cover his Senior night class. I drew up my first class syllabus and was offered the substitute teaching gig. It’s more than likely I was the only one that applied for the position, and it really wasn’t worth the money, but I thought I might be able to bring a little ArtCenter-thinking to a class of future creative professionals. If nothing else, my criteria, first and foremost, was just do the assignment and show up for the crit. The class was made up of mostly wannabes, but two students stood out from all the rest. The young lady really was getting the lessons and her work would take her book to a higher level, while the young man, Rich, was a total fuckin’ idiot. He continually showed up late, never had his work, ever, and always had some bullshit excuse that infuriated me to no end. At the end of the semester I had the dubitable task of assigning final grades to my students, and if the young lady deservedly got the only A, and Rich single-handedly got the F, then everyone else got their C’s and wanna-B’s with the greatest of ease.

Not a week after turning in the grades, Rose called me personally to ask if I’d come in and meet with her and Martin, who was apparently back at school and had issue with my grading. “You can’t fail Rich,” Martin told me. “Excuse me. He did NOTHING for an entire semester. Nothing! There was NOTHING for me to even grade if I wanted to. What is this all about? I don’t understand.” Rose and Martin explained to me that Rich needed to pass my class in order to graduate, so they were changing my F to a C so that he could, and would. “You mean to tell me that you would rather pass this guy, so he can go out into the world and proudly say he graduated from this school and foreseeably destroy its reputation, then to fail him and let him destroy his own, on his own. You’re giving out B.S. degrees, not BFA’s. I’m outta here. Keep your money. You obviously need it more than I do.” My adjunct professorship days came to a screeching halt, but the teaching bug was still in my blood.

For further reading, here's an earlier story about my teaching experience:

Lesson Learned 


  • Jeff Schmoyer

    Hey Mikel this only proves you should go back and teach again – the world needs ya’.

  • Mike Kanter

    i undurstand. my englich teccher passed me when i did pour urk in her claas . Good thing i sell whine fora living. Excellent story thou!

  • Deb Butler

    Apparently more than one fuckin’ idiot at that school!

  • Lisa

    That’s terrible, but unfortunately it is the trend. It happens all the time in the public school system.

  • Michael Katz

    I guess Kaen University didn’t care about it’s quality of students and a “C” is considered their average or failure depending on the student.

Leave a comment