Utter Insanity Gone Mad


As some of you may remember I posted a while back about a course I'm doing to teach English as a foreign language. For the most part it's been quite enjoyable but occasionally someone will try to show how culturally sensitive they are by taking offence at something on behalf of 'minorities'. For the most part I've rolled my eyes, but I'm afraid I behaved rather badly this evening. In my defence I was tired and hadn't eaten for several hours.

Anyway the teacher gave us an exercise to do which involved looking a list of English words and trying to come up with ways to explain them to someone with little English. It all went well enough until someone took offence on behalf of 'people from other cultures'.

One of the words on the list was 'corrupt' which the objector felt that we should not explain to students because 'it's teaching cultural values, not language'. I nearly fell off my chair! It was a few seconds before I realised I'd actually said 'what fresh madness is this?' out loud. I then
asked the person what they would do if someone asked what the word corrupt meant. You or I might just explain it to them, but we'd be imposing our cultural values on the student which is very, very wrong. The correct course of action is to tell the student that you are unable to explain the word and suggest they look it up in the dictionary.

Is it me? Have I missed something? Apparently the problem is that we might provide a few examples of what corrupt means within the context of western culture, which might cause offence. Having observed the behaviour of the loons that spout this stuff, I have reached the conclusion that they like to keep their 'minority victims' weak and preferably excluded from wider society in order to make themselves feel powerful.

Speaking of sneaky behaviour by inadequates, the scales have fallen from my eyes regarding one of my work colleagues. For some time people have been complaining about her habit of undermining them in front of junior staff, her unctuous crawling in the presence of management and devious methods of ensuring the boss is informed of the shortcomings and minor errors of other staff members. And for some time I have defended her on the grounds that I didn't think any of it was meant maliciously, that it was just her way.

Anyway prior to Christmas I became suspicious and began keeping a closer eye on her behaviour and have discovered to my horror that my colleagues were right. Too late, as it would appear I'm her latest victim. I find this particular brand of bullying extremely difficult to tackle. She is never openly hostile and if you stand up to her in any way she just nitpicks and ensures senior management have an entirely negative picture of your work. It's so frustrating, one cannot confront her without looking paranoid, complaining about her to management would have the same effect. I find problems without solutions vexing to say the least and am starting to feel ill at the thought of going into work. So I am throwing myself on the mercy of my ever wise readers. I am already looking for another job, however I need advice on how to get through the months ahead without going mad. Has anyone ever defeated a similar foe and If so how was it achieved?


david. said...

I have a female friend who was being bullied at work (in a university office)by a female superior. It got so bad that she went to her doctor, and her doctor was furious and signed her off work for two weeks for stress. This sorted the problem out - as it alerted the bosses to the fact that something was seriously wrong. My friend, I should add, is what you would call a tough cookie - she is the sort who stands no nonsense, in the nicest possible way. She was simply being ground down by her superior.

I realise that this may or may not work for you, but in this case it seemes to improve things. Whether the effect is lasting remains to be seen.

Clairwil said...

I'd thought of something along similar lines, though I'm trying to keep this for when it gets really, really bad.

David Duff said...

Perhaps a more subtle approach is called for. Each time there is a staff meeting and you have to make your report always finish with something along the lines of, "Of course, we all know, don't we that 'X', who is sooo intelligent and on the ball, would have done it differently so perhaps she would help us all right now, by telling us how she would have done it becuase I really would be most grateful for any tips or hints..." and so on, and all said with a beaming smile that would be as obviously false to everyone as Abi's Titmuss' tits, but against which no complaint could be made.

Clairwil said...

Not a bad plan, David. She's recently taken over the monitoring of a number of files which I was previously managing perfectly well. As I sailed out the office at 6 o'clock this evening, leaving her up to the eyes in 'my' work, I wondered if she might finally be learning to be careful what she wishes for. It's almost as if someone had picked it the most complicated and time consuming work to make a point. Not that I would be so devious.

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