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Adjunct Professor Benz

First day of school butterflies

By Al Carlos Hernandez - Contributing editor
Published on LatinoLA: August 26, 2008


Adjunct Professor Benz


In a few days. I am beginning my second year as an Adjunct Professor of Mass Communications at the University, but I can't shake the pre-school butterflies. It's ironic that I teach, and can remember my first experience in Kindergarten way back in the day, when I had what is now known as a panic attack.

My view of formal education has always been viewed through a prism of skepticism, thinking that middle class folks became teachers because they couldn't find a decent paying job and wanted to wear slacks to work. I subscribed to the belief voiced by comic and filmmaker Woody Allen, who said his high school was a place for emotionally disturbed teachers.

I keep thinking about the first day of school: What if I'm late, will the students leave? What should I wear? To be too hip for the room, or dare to be a square bear. And no, I don't own slacks, just church suits.

Most folks don't know that teachers are very concerned as to which students sign up for the class and check with the registrar often during the weeks preceding school to see which students are signing up. This semester, I'm teaching four Upper Division courses. Loudmouth know- it- all types, or a class full of mimes, can make for a long semester.

Whether people know it or not, there is an immediate struggle in the first few minutes of any new class to establish dominance.

The highest-paid people in this country shouldn't be thieving traitorous Big Oil Executives. The people who deserve the highest pay should be Middle School Teachers. Some psychologists say that "adolescence is a form of psychosis", and if me or our kids are any kind of control group, then they hit the nail on the head.

University students, with their laptops, IPods and Blackberries, have a tremendously misguided sense of entitlement. They think you work for them, and they can treat you like they treat their parents at the mall. My job is to teach them how to communicate literately and effectively through the use of existing media and media in the world to come.

Real life will teach you that real learning comes through old school discipline.

Many of the students the first time around were correct in thinking they made a huge mistake by taking a class with an OG Harley-riding, smack-talking part-time professor who is a full-time insultant.

Last year, in my first class, the students were sizing me up. I kept a pro stance was glib comical cavalier and stuck to the lesson plan point-by-point. Then came the test.

The class know-it-all BMOC tired to take me down. He raised his hand and said, "Isn't the title Adjunct Professor mean a really smart guy with no money?" There was a pregnant pause, a few snickers and ironically there was a pregnant girl in class, ready to pop any minute, that had a proclivity for candy bars.

All eyes were on me. This was my make or break moment, I looked him right in the eyes and told him, "Go into the parking lot and see what I drive and you know I'm not here for the money." Then I popped my collar. The students went on to say that he was ... roasted.

Before class, I befriended some of the campus security guards. The word spread quickly around campus that there is a new Professor of Show Business or whatever, with a flipped (read customized), Red SL Mercedes Benz Convertible.

Checkmate. Apparently Biff, or whatever his name was, didn't get the memo.

My first object lesson to the students about Mass Media was a roaring success, because success in media isn't about aptitude, it is about attitude. Teaching, I find, is not what you do, it is who you are, and your life has to become an object lesson if modern students are going to learn how to succeed in this increasingly competitive world.

I was honored to be brought into the University by the Dean, Dr. Ruelas, who knew that students need to be taught about media by someone who has been there and done that.

This is the hardest gig I have ever had because this country's greatest resource is the leaders of tomorrow. Teaching is a sacred trust. Big respect to my Brother and Sister educators out there. Go out there and have a good term.

The following week, I drove my blacked out tinted Dodge Charger on Dubs. Won't ride the Hog to work ... can't deal with the helmet hair.

Going to assign them to critique this. Assignments are due Monday morning 9 AM, via email.

About Al Carlos Hernandez - Contributing editor:
AC wants to congratulate Phillip Rodriguez on his Imagen award for Best TV Documentary.
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