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We will be at MoCCA Fest this weekend! It’s April 2 – 3 at 629 West 46th Street in New York City and we’re at table F 206, come say hi! 

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  • Shjade

    My my, Mr. Gurwara’s done his homework.

    I get the feeling Mr. G’s going to be heartily disliked before this is over, but he’s still going to provide more food for thought to really dig into than the mind-reader ever did.

    Unless he’s really just full of himself without any useful material to back it up. That’d be disappointing. But it happens!

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Hm… What about “I don’t like bullies” then? Seems like a fundamental concept at the core of Alison belief system.
    Either this professor doesn’t know his logical fallacies or he’s using them on purpose to throw off Alison. In either case, I’m getting bored of Alison’s enemies all having obvious flaws for Alison to “defeat” them without even having to figure it out.

    • If Rhetoric has taught me anything, it’s that logical fallacies are only bad if someone catches you using them and calls you out on it

    • Dartangn

      As the guy said, an axiom is a bit more than just ‘I don’t like bullies’. That’s more of an opinion than an axiom. It might be DERIVED from an axiom (something like ‘a good life is a life of excellence, which would implicitly rule against bullying), but we don’t know what axiom, not yet. Probably why he pressed her on the point.

    • Tylikcat

      That would seem to be a statement of aesthetic preference…

      (Seriously, I’m waiting for evidence that he’s her enemy. Her flipping out – if that’s even where this goes, and I really hope not – doesn’t constitute evidence, though I suppose it could be used to support a claim that she is him enemy. But hey, he may yet turn out to be evil.)

    • cphoenix

      Alison has much bigger problems than this level of “enemy.” I don’t think that’s really what this comic is about.

  • Subbak

    Yeah, he’s pretty much being a jerk now. And to say I almost liked him until today.

  • Subbak

    The black student of indeterminate gender who was to the front/right of Al in the previous comic (panel 6) suddenly disappeared here (see panel 1).

    • bryan rasmussen

      I’d leave too.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      And also everybody’s pupils!
      (Drawing; when reality’s consistency is boring.)

  • Thomas S

    This wise man he has much gold ornamentation on himself.

  • Bo Lindbergh

    “or else I risk losing my job” sounds like somebody is assuming that professor Cohen was fired on Alison’s request.

    • Mechwarrior

      Or he’s intentionally trying to propagate that idea among her peers.

    • Dean

      Both Alison and Gurwara know that Cohen was fired because of Alison’s complaint, and the story has almost certainly made its’ way around the faculty- it’s too good a story not to. It would be disingenuous for him to pretend that she couldn’t do it again if she wanted to. This gives the class an odd power dynamic- as the teacher, Gurwara seems to have the power, but he really doesn’t.

  • MisterTeatime

    Grife. He did research beforehand. Now I _really_ don’t like him.

  • MisterTeatime

    Axiom: when someone gives you power over them, it is repugnant to use that power against their interests. You shouldn’t harass your employees, you shouldn’t abuse your constituents’ trust, and you shouldn’t bully your students.

    • Weatherheight

      Very nicely said.

  • I think he’s referring to the professor who tried flunking Allison because of who she was http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-2/page-7-2/

    I also think he’s trying to belittle Allison from a position that involves her now having power over him, and making her into a bully in the eyes of the class. He’s come into things with an agenda, and knowledge of who Ali is and thinks he can shut her down that way.

    Also he literally took a shot form a hip flask right in front of the class last page, so I’m going to go with ali – he’s trying to shock the class into not knowing what to do, then demand something from them while they’re shook up.

    • lizasweetling

      well, it is effective, if that really is the dynamic he wants.

    • Cartheon

      Shocking a class is not an uncommon teaching tactic. Many of my professors would do or say things to break through the layers of jaded disinterest and complacency students have. As for bullying Allison, she is the one who spoke up. He didn’t call on her to speak. She could have sat back and kept quiet, especially if he was actively trying to goad her into a conversation. I honestly think he is a professor trying to engage his students and he happens to be witty enough to throw things back at Allison.

  • Anna

    Daaaaaaaaamn, that got personal super fast.

  • Anon

    An entirely appropriate topic to explore, especially considering the recent wave of, shall we say, *sensitive* students pushing for faculty members to resign.

  • janeitenoir

    Immediate reaction: Wow, he is awful. He’s definitely preying on Allison’s insecurities about her other professor being fired.

    • Walter

      *blink*

      Wow. Uh. That’s super backwards.

      Calling Alison’s student cosplay out is an act of tremendous courage. Going by past observations this dude is either going to be fired or murdered in less than a week. He’s risking that. He’s talking back to someone who the COPS ARE AFRAID TO ARREST FOR A MURDER THAT THEY HAVE CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE OF, and you are after him because doing so might remind her of the last time something like this happened?

      • chaosvii

        I kinda hope that’s why he took the swig, he knows that he could get super wrecked and can’t afford to let that anxiety get in the way of his teaching.
        Granted, it’s not exactly a responsible way of taking the edge off, but it is still an attempt to cope with what might end up being “taking a stand,” for all he knows.

      • Mechwarrior

        In real life, a normal person wouldn’t have been charged with murder for killing flamethrower-guy either. And this guy is pretty obviously attacking Alison’s insecurities.

      • pendraco

        you do realize said murder you’re talking about was due to an entire room of paramedics and doctors being FRIED by said guy, right?

  • CanuckAmuck

    Mr. Gurwara returns the serve…

  • Tylikcat

    Well, color me as having mixed feelings.

    I think Alison has at least half a valid point, in that goading people about being mindless automatons isn’t going to convince people who were already feeling timid to speak. (That all being said, this wasn’t uncommon language from professors when I was in school, and I generally took it as an invitation to verbal sparring. This isn’t how I teach, but other than the initial “Karapovsky is dead!” comment, which is still WTF, this all seems within reasonable bounds. Maybe I’m getting old?)

    But… sweetie, way to be totally off point. I would love to hear an exploration of fairness. It sounds like Gurwara (Mr? Not Dr? …okay, perhaps I really am infected with academe – is this common for The New School? or is this just Alison’s guess at titles?) would love to hear a defense of fairness. With a little bit of creativity, it could perhaps even be scathing (one could, perhaps, talk about using positions of authority for intimidation as a hypothetical example, say.) But going on about bullying after such a mild example sounds like a reversion to fourth grade.

    Also, just because I’m already writing this, I’m kind of surprised to hear not only Alison asserting that stating one’s axiom is deeply personal, but that so many people were asserting the same (and even asserting that it was dangerous to mention) in the comments on the previous page. Really? I mean, I can see that the process of figuring out what your own axioms are might be deeply personal. But an axiom itself is a pretty pared down, polished up and kind of abstract sort of thing. They don’t by themselves give you a lot of handle on the person.

    Let’s think about fairness as an example*. Sure, you might do a lot of soul searching to realize that fairness is one of the values most important to you – but having figured it out, is it really something private that you have to protect? The process and soul searching may be, but saying “I care a lot about fairness,” is pretty much as context free and safe a statement as you’re likely to make.

    …of course, an awful lot of people (likely Alison included) don’t have a nice clean statement like that to make, because they haven’t worked through their own personal axioms. (And there’s no requirement that people should do so. It’s kind of a weird reductivist process. Even in Axiology – a course I haven’t taken, BTW, and I suspect my personal axioms might not past muster! – it’s the first day of class.) But I do think there’s a difference between something being highly personal, and someone having a inchoate bundle of emotions rather than something clear to say.

    * This is not me ducking out of sharing my own personal axioms, I just see that as hugely off-topic and requirement too much explanation.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      Didn’t the teacher ask specifically for a personal axiom though? I mean, I expected someone to say something generic like fairness, and then Gurwara would be all “What do you meeeeaan by fairness? Huh? Huh? See, you actually just THINK you’re fair but in reality you’re really a horrible person.”

      As for age, I do get a sort of “good old boys club” vibe off of him. Someone who knows he can look brilliant just by spouting a lot of random crap and tearing students down.

    • lizasweetling

      fairness is not an axiom- it is a declaration of whether something abides by your axioms.
      furthermore it is so broadly defined that almost anyone could claim it and yet still mean hundreds if not thousands of different specific things.
      therefore it is not a valid example of either an axiom nor a personal axiom.
      Withholding axioms because you are worried that they won’t “pass muster” is exactly why so many people were saying he was out of line to demand it, particularly because he demeaned them for their hesitance. Hesitance from sharing very core beliefs stems from the fear that some one will demean them (hah, tis circular).
      The commentators’ assertion stems from the common axiom that no one should be made afraid and the fact that he already demeaned them.
      which, by the way, even if he’s just using at an opener, is like that pick up tactic where you give them a backhanded insult so they feel the need to prove you wrong.

    • cphoenix

      Alison, believing he is being a bully either by choice or compulsion, has excellent reason not to trust his competence, his character, or both. Anything an untrustworthy person knows about you gives them a lever to move you with. It’s easy to think “Oh, this is harmless, so I’ll do what he wants” but if someone is abusive then they will make that the first step of a slippery slope.

      For example, if he knew she was motivated by fairness, he could tell her three personal things about him, and then tell her it wasn’t fair that she hadn’t shared any. The more he learned, the more he could manipulate her.

      I’m not saying everyone is untrustworthy. But if they’ve given clear evidence that their axioms are incompatible with yours, and that they’re willing to manipulate you, the less said the better.

    • The correct address for anyone teaching your course is “Professor” regardless of their title at the institution or level of education—he could easily be a lecturer or a grad student or, in certain disciplines, have a terminal Master’s, or just be a remarkably accomplished person doing a residency—because they are all entitled to equal respect within the student–teacher relationship.

      But that really is in the weeds of academic courtesy, which isn’t really what you attend The New School for.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Well…the good times couldn’t last forever. And to be fair, while Mr. Gurwara (I like calling him Golden Cane better) is either purposely twisting Al’s words to unbalance her or genuinely is operating the under the impression that Al is the type to flex her considerable influence to get teachers that disagree with her fired. And while I have to admit I’m not crazy about how things are shaking out right now, Al should unfortunately remember her reputation proceeds her.

    Yes, yes, I know she wasn’t trying to get Professor Cohen fired, but she has seen the ripples she causes in her academic surroundings. It’s not fair, but she can’t say she’s uninformed or inexperienced now about how her University will over react to her due to her celebrity status.

    Also, I like Al quoting Steve Rogers.

    • Tylikcat

      I don’t see it as an either / or. If she’s making a statement about bullies, inherent in that is the idea of power imbalance – and honestly, that’s a heck of a statement for Alison to be making (as, perhaps, is Gurwara: “I am tickled by your use of the word “we”….) He doesn’t have to be thinking she’s going to go out and try to get him fired as such for it to be worth his while to remind her that she certainly could, and that questions of power dynamics are more involved. That’s just reality, and it might be useful to have a discussion with the assumption that everyone is a grown-up. (And look, there she is totally derailing the discussion in class on the first day. It *is* kind of interesting that she’s the one speaking up, isn’t it, and do you really think that’s about her superior character, or are those the assumptions that come with having power, even when you don’t realize you’re acquiring them?)

      “It’s not fair…” quoting you this time, is entirely on point. I really wish she’s take up the issue of fairness (though she might be avoiding it because she knows it’s full of traps for her) because darn, I think something about fairness really is one of her personal axioms, but how much can fairness even be measured in her own life?

    • Dean

      More than that- back in the Feral storyline, Alison straight up killed flamethrower guy, with absolutely no consequences. Sure there were circumstances, but she wasn’t even interviewed by the police, as far as we know. You can’t blame the school for walking carefully around Alison- they’re probably pretty sure that Alison won’t go on a rampage if she gets an F, but why take the chance?

      • pendraco

        those “Circumstances” were torching an entire room full of innocent paramedics, and a regenerator who was going to be permanently donating her organs. even if you’re NOT superpowered, you would’ve killed the guy.

        • masterofbones

          And you would be summarily questioned by the police and probably arrested.

          Especially since there were only about three or four witnesses to the flamethrowering, and about 100 witnesses to her threatening to kill an entire crowd immediately after.

  • Daniel Vogelsong

    “Your Job? No, sir… Crossing me will make you lose things more precious than that.”

    • Boojum

      Saying something like that would make her the worst person in the entire comic.

  • Thewizardguy

    I am attempting to decide whether I love this guy or hate him….

    • lizasweetling

      as are we all…
      including Allison.

  • Loranna

    . . . Well. He uses a bullying tactic, then bullies the only person willing to call him out on his bullying tactic with a veiled accusation, as another bullying tactic.

    Alison, you should call him out on that accusation, too. Oh, and keep him in suspense the whole class about your axiom. It’s the least he deserves.

    So is this guy specifically trying to screw with Alison, for what she “did” to the last professor? Or does he see this as a Superman/Lex Luthor sort of thing, pitting his intellect against the invincible demigoddess? Or is this just the way he always teaches ethics? (Though you’d think, if this were his usual M.O., that he’d have a reputation among the student body for being a ball-buster of a teacher.)

    Loranna

    • bta

      Given that he’s replacing *checks two pages ago* Professor Karapovsky, isn’t it possible that nobody in the student body knows him? I don’t know how substitute teachers work in the US.

      Of course, given his troptacular entrance, it’s pretty obvious there’s more to him than meets the eye, even if may turn out he’s only there to play devil’s advocate with Allison.

    • Some guy

      I think he knows what she did, but he’s just messing with her because he’s a substitute and is already half loaded at whateveroclock in the morning.

      That’s probably more of a real life vs. this comic thing though, but a guy can dream.

    • Dartangn

      I think you might be rushing to conclusions a bit. He imitated a degree of empathy with the students on the somewhat dry nature of the topic he himself is teaching (if he’s legitimately making fun of it, what does it say about the man educated at, and teaching the subject at a tertiary level? I assume he doesn’t have a low opinion of his area of expertise). He’s being down to earth. Then he goads them a bit to respond, because god knows most of the time in these sorts of classes nobody wants to have attention on them. ‘Mindless automatons’ is pretty clearly hyperbole, and fits with the generally lighthearted and somewhat wry tone he’s been setting.
      A student then starts a confrontation with him, a student that historically has de facto used her status to remove enemies. As far as he probably knows, anyway.
      And note that after a single back and forth, he immediately returns to the original question, not lingering on her attitude or (potentially) implicit threat. He didn’t get sidetracked by anything specific to Allison or her attitude or his opinion of her, in other words.

      And I think Superman/Lex Luthor comparison is way too grandiose a comparison for what we’ve seen at this stage. He’s not a ball buster. This is all very garden variety socratic method. He’s not being aggressive, he’s just refusing to let his students be passive. Which is an utterly vital component of decent philosophical education. And considering he seems to have a fairly keep appreciation of the popular image, and inherent dryness of much of the coursework, I’d say that’s quite appropriate.

      We have almost no data on this guy. Personally, I’m reserving judgement. It’s way too early to start building up theories.

      • The_Rippy_One

        ^this! though, I might argue it’s never to early to build theories. and guesses. -just, don’t get hung up on them

    • Natsumeg

      I get the impression it’s just how he teaches. I’m leaning towards the ‘he’s nicer than he seems camp’ and is just one of those teachers who believe challenging his students is the best way to teach. And though I don’t entirely agree, maybe he believes being the opposition figure is the easiest way to spur students to say what they really feel.

    • CanuckAmuck

      Challenging students to think, especially about their own thoughts, is not bullying them. If one’s philosophy instructor isn’t tearing down the supports of one’s weltanschauung, he or she isn’t doing his or her job.

      • The_Rippy_One

        this, too! Philosphy is the subject whose primary question is questioning assumptions and pondering how we ponder – My first weeks essay was “Defend a personal belief.” Second week? Tear that same principle to shreds XD

    • ApostateltsopA

      I don’t know. From his perspective the last guy to disagree with Alison did lose his job. She has power over him physically and materially through his employer. He could be lashing out or he could be honestly trying to find an axiom. Given the relative power dynamics I’ll agree he can harass Alison, but I don’t know that he can bully her. She would have to decide she cares about his opinion of her to let him. She’s pretty compassionate, so she might care about his opinion. In any case I think it’s fair for him to point out that she is hardly powerless before him.

  • cyrano111

    “Miss Green”. And clearly he knows about the earlier professor who was fired. But I don’t read animosity in anything he is saying, or lack of respect: he is challenging her, as he is challenging him. That’s what a university classroom ought to be like.

    • lizasweetling

      definitely an option, but he doesn’t need to let up eventually or he’s just going to get a rep as a hardass and a combative person.

    • cphoenix

      There are many kinds of challenge. Some are better than others.

      A university classroom “ought” to be a place where the students want to grow (in wisdom, knowledge, skill, maturity), and the teacher wants to help them. Also, if things are going well in a discussion class at university level, the teacher probably doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.

      Some people may grow when they are challenged on the domination/submission axis by someone who sets themself up as an authority. But many people will submit and learn very little, or learn an unconstructive lesson. I do not think his kind of challenge is a good idea in a classroom this large. He may help some, but hurt others, and there are other approaches that could help more and hurt fewer.

  • GreatWyrmGold

    I like Gurwara on this page better than that on other pages. I mean, it would be hard for me to like him less, but here there seems to be a point to his…whatever you call it.

    • pendraco

      rhetoric?

  • I still don’t like this guy.

  • demosthenese10

    oof. He flipped that well. She’s potentially the bully. Well done.

    • rhetorical masterwork

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      Nah. He’s just playing the “Waaaah I feel so bullied by people who want to limit my ability to bully” card. He’s using the logic of every fundy who feels persecuted by gays demanding the right to exist.

    • lizasweetling

      yes, but it is generally accepted that subtext bullying (such as stating your opinion to someone you pay) is less significant than overt bullying (such as calling someone an automaton)

  • AgentHufflepuff97

    I feel like these two will have a great professional relationship. Very fun learning for Alison.

  • pointy

    “No but you also never said your axiom?” I think that might be a typo in the last panel, but I’m not sure. I guess it makes sense if English is his second language.

    • Weatherheight

      Okay, I re-read it and the word “say” is a bit off.

      Apologies for the lecture. 😬

  • JohnTomato

    Almost everyone else has interesting comments…

    I want to know what beast has its head on the handle of Gurwara’s cane.

    • Maybe the Set Beast?

    • Kid Chaos

      It’s a dragon, I think. Scroll back a few pages to the Prof’s first appearance, and you can get a good look at the head of the cane as he leans it against the desk. 😎

  • David

    If I’m completely honest…this page makes me dislike Alison a bit.

  • Jason Rivest

    I think it’s possible Gurwara is purposelly trolling the class and actually wants to be called out, as part of the lesson. I’m not convinced that’s the case, but I think it’s possible.

  • Keneu

    wtf is wrong with this dude

  • bta

    Once again, from everyone else’s point of view anything Allison might say is implicitly followed with “or else I might abuse my considerable power to make you comply”.

  • David

    Is there not a difference between challenging and bullying?

  • David

    Alison is apparently willing to make others look like a victim just so she can play hero against a “bully”?

  • MrSing

    I don’t think Alison knows what bullying is.
    I guess she didn’t meet many people that wanted to seriously engage her. Being a human weapon for so long the only ones that criticised her must have been serious enemies or orginisations that disliked her. So any opposition must seem like hostility to her.

  • Boojum

    Alsion is kinda hoist on her own petard here. She often handles situations in a confrontational, aggressive manner from a position of power, and does not handle being on the other end very well. She’s also the only one clearly uncomfortable with him, but is attempting to project that to her classmates to cover her singular discomfort.

  • RemoteScholar

    Mr G definitely looks like an experienced philosophy professor here. Having to debate with students about issues and making them see the possible implications others might believe are behind their statements are things professors in humanities department classes run into a lot. Good, memorable philosophy classes should challenge what students think as the material is covered (memorable being key to having students hang on to the material instead of just cramming it into short-term memory).
    We definitely don’t have enough information about this guy to know if he is actually antagonistic yet, and I think it’s a too quick of Allison to peg him as a bully yet. It’s literally the 1st few minutes of class, and to be fair to teachers everywhere, making students feel uncomfortable the way he did in Tuesday’s comic is good, it sets a tone for the class that they will have to think a little more than they might in some gen-ed classes.
    I also like how he mentions her use of “we.” Allison is used to defending others as a superhero, but she shouldn’t presume to speak for others in the class just because they didn’t speak up right away. I am reminded of the saying “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” for some reason. Maybe because she’s used to having to defend people all the time, she falls into a protective way of thinking, even in debates.

  • Weatherheight

    Very, *very* nicely said.

  • Weatherheight

    It’s grammatically correct. It might parse better if one were to replace “said” with “stated”, but he’s correctly using parallel construction to emphasize a logical point (i.e. That she “said”/stated an opinion about the situation rather than providing an axiom, which is what the prof requested).

  • BiologyProf

    I think Alison may be inadvertently bullying as well. She called him Mister before even knowing his name. In order to provide proper respect in a college setting, you generally refer to the professor as either “Professor” (safest bet) or “Doctor.” I think she knows that because she’s had previous college courses. So, the use of Mister, however intentional or unintentional it may be, signals to Gurwara a lack of respect. If she were a freshman, she could be forgiven, but she is not just out of high school.

    I use humor to approach biology all the time and I doubt anyone has ever assumed I’m making fun of it or have no respect for it. Furthermore, she does assume an axiom is deeply personal and speaks for the whole class. I have tons of students who choose not to speak for fear of saying something wrong. I often times use an informal approach to get them to talk, something like “I’m just gonna stand here in awkward silence til someone responds.” Then when someone says something, I find some way to positively reinforce their venturing out to ask. Alison didn’t wait to see how students would respond, nor how he would respond. Instead she became aggressive towards him. I don’t doubt in a similar situation, with someone who literally has more power over me in many ways, I might turn her words around on her to illustrate her own bullying, intentional or not.

    I like this guy. He always has a genial, if not mischievous smile. He seems knowledgeable, well-spoken, unafraid to teach from differing styles, and a great foil for Al’s very simple view of reality (although she is changing that view with her recent experiences). Also, for the people saying he has “evil-face,” he is most likely of Indian descent, possibly even an Indian immigrant or visiting professor. That’s an assumption based on the last name and the accent. I would err on his face just being drawn in a way to represent a south-east Asian person rather than eeeevil. Almond eyes and all that.

  • Chris

    I see where he’s going with this. He wants her to actually state the unspoken assumption behind all those objections. (Note that he hasn’t said she’s wrong.

    Her axiom seems to be “Respect for people and the things they care about is important. Further, it is important in itself, not merely as a matter of self-interest regarding consequences.”

  • WhatIf

    The way I see this going: Alison makes point about fairness as an axiom, Professor counters with Alison’s powers making her unfair, Alison counters with a second axiom: some kind of “with great power comes great responsibility” type retort.

  • feli

    I get the kind of feeling he is a teacher that tries to provoke so his students get invested in the subject. Especially since it’s a touchy and complicated topic.

    Or he’s just an ass and thinks Alison needs to be put in place.

  • EveryZig

    She could just go with the biggest and most impersonal axiom: “There exists an external reality that it is possible to know things about”. I don’t think there’s too much to criticize about that one aside from the fact that (like all axioms) it is inherently unprovable. (Though it would be ironic for it to show up said by a character in a work of fiction).

    I am currently leaning towards liking Dr Gurwara, though whether I end up on liking him will quite possibly change depending on how hard he is on the axiom he gets (and whether he is belittling of the person in the process of inevitably criticizing what they say). Knowing about what happened to the other prof doesn’t require having done any research; it would be odd for him not to hear about a colleague in the same department getting abruptly fired.

    And I would say he is right to point out how easily her confrontation could be a threat. It’s a form of privilege: it isn’t her fault for having the power to unintentionally get people fired, but she has it nonetheless and being careless with it can have have major consequences for others. When you can crush people without even realizing it, it isn’t fair for you to have to watch yourself all the time but it is even more unfair for the people who get crushed.

  • Pseudo

    Panel 6, with the black background: so effective!

  • lizasweetling

    I like it, but “axioms should be enforced by individuals that hold them” would be easier to address- less poetic.

  • Wait, you think what’s going on here is a bullying tactic? Oh boy … you’re diluting the word into meaninglessness. There’s no physical abuse, nor repeated threats of harm ~ there’s no damage here at all, not physical, not psychological, which are amongst the primary signs of bullying …

  • cphoenix

    Interesting what she doesn’t say in the next-to-last panel. “I never said that.” It’s a pretty narrow statement. She doesn’t deny thinking it. She doesn’t deny that she might do it.

    There’s a difference between Gurwara and Cohen. Cohen had a problem with Alison, and Alison’s only response was to want a reasonable grade; she didn’t want Cohen fired. Gurwara is bullying the _whole class._

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Alison ended up getting Gurwara fired on purpose because she didn’t think he should be teaching. I’m not even sure I’d disagree with her. I’d certainly hate to see him teaching children. Young adults are presumably better able to take care of themselves, but his first action is to deliberately put them in a position where they’re less able to.

  • FlashNeko

    This guy is less of a professor and more of a politician.

    “Uh oh, she pointed out something legitimately wrong with what I’m doing! Time to switch to personal attacks!”

  • HydraWithWings

    Actually, he’s right. Alison, “did” say it. Whether she meant it or not. She did not answer the question about stating a personal axiom nor did she defend it. Also, she did use the term “we” making a huge assumption her views where shared with everyone else and that she represents them. Also, Mr Gurwara, is right in bringing up her reputation. Alison, did kill one (albeit indirectly) the last Prof’s partner and then cost him his job. She states that she “doesn’t like bullies” but given her actions from previous issues and books she’s been accused of being the bully (whether directly or inferred.) Normally, everything I’ve stated can be completely dismissed and I don’t necessarily agree with it (devil’s advocate here) but Mr Gurwara seems to be very skilled at classical rhetoric (from defining terms to engaging the audience and determining the course of discourse) and following the Platonic school model for debate which would make everything he is done so far feasible. I’m more concerned that the Prof is drinking in class and that the elaborate walking stick handle is screaming to be some kind of evil-villain-gizmo type thing. My money, however, is on Alison. She’s clever and sees the flaw in the arguments or at least recognizes their imperfection. So she’s not accepting things and is being self-critical and academically aware. Give her some time, she will figure this out and pull through it. Probably, with some good character development along the way 😉

  • chaosvii

    I look forward to your simplifications of other nuanced media where the antagonists are not necessarily villainous jerkbags & the protagonists are still learning how to resolve things without risking making it worse all the time.

  • chaosvii

    I, for one, think this guy is awesome, and look forward to the lessons we learn from him.
    If Alison can make him more awesome by prompting him to learn something cool & new (through conflict of perspective), so much the better!

  • The_Rippy_One

    of course. It is also a very relevant question, to him, personally, given what happened to the other teacher – which he probably has imperfect information about, but whose results are very clear.

    But – look – he didn’t tear her a new one, just asked her to be more precise in her meaning. In the most aggressive way possible XD “I don’t like bullies” is simplistic, and imprecise – does it mean “I oppose being bullied” (personal) “I feel I have a moral objection to bullying” (principal) “I dislike people who display bullying behavior” (social) or some other variation. Mister Teatime’s expansion is much clearer as a statement.

  • Monty

    I hate this guy for entirely different reasons. I don’t teach like this, but I am adversarial at times, and that can be a legitimate educational tool, especially in philosophy. My issue is the line on page 32 of this issue: “Karapovsky is dead.” This is a 203(?) philosophy course. It’s not unlikely that there are students that know Professor Karapovsky personally in the room. Making that “joke” the first thing you say in your first lecture is the act of a classless ass-hat. Probably not a villain; just a run-of-the-mill jerk. Don’t dignify him with the “Luthor” tag. I shall call him “Professor Toyman” until something better comes along…

    • Tylikcat

      That’s still my one real warning flag on this guy. WTF was that about? Otherwise I find him pretty entertaining.

  • chaosvii

    Pretty sure he’s requesting that Alison be more specific rather than have her depend on implications of what she’s said.
    As he pointed out, implications can lead to dangerous misunderstandings. He’s not necessarily testing her axiom, he’s attempting to have her look at & unpack the axiomatic assumptions within the statement she made.

  • Christophe2314

    Yeah, I’m gonna have to side with the teach, here. Allison’s definition of bullying is way, way too broad: Gurwara did not use threats of any kind, he’s simply trying to get his students to think for themselves and question the nature of their own beliefs. The fact is, Allison isn’t used to being intellectually challenged (as in offered a challenge of intellectual nature, not the other thing). For most of her life, every problem she’s faced she’s been able to solve with her fists. Her values have been very easy to uphold, because she’s never had to risk anything to uphold them, what with her being invincible.

    Now, a teacher is directly attacking her values by trying to get her to question them… and her response is to derail the entire conversation and call him a bully. Which is, ironically enough, bullying. “I don’t like what you’re saying, therefore you’re the bad guy.” She’s basically trying to turn the entire class against him (note how she’s speaking for everyone despite there being no one else speaking up) just to dodge a perfectly reasonable question. Also, as Gurwara points out, there’s an implicit threat. Whether Allison realizes it or not, she has the ability to get a teacher fired, and has done so in the past. There is a power imbalance here, with Allison clearly having the advantage.

    I find it odd how other commenters’ opinion seem to be directly linked to Allison. What Gurwara is doing here is pretty standard “unorthodox yet effective teacher” fare, the likes of which we’ve seen in so many movies and TV shows. I’m willing to bet that, if Allison had taken a liking to the teacher, everyone in this comment section would be signing his praises even as his teaching methods remain the exact same. Because she calls him a bully, everyone sees him as one.

  • Christophe2314

    Of course he’s testing her axiom. That’s pretty much the entire purpose of this conversation. Here’s a truth about axioms: there is, or rather should be, no such thing. Every single belief, no matter how obvious, should be questioned. What Gurwara is doing here is inviting people to identify their axioms and deconstruct them. He’s attacking everyone’s beliefs to see if these beliefs actually hold up under scrutiny.

    So Allison says she doesn’t like bullies. Gurwara’s response? Pointing out the irony in that statement. The fact is, there’s a power imbalance here and it’s not in his favor. Allison has, whether she wants it or not, the ability to get a teacher fired. If she doesn’t like what he’s saying, his very job is at risk. Gurwara isn’t in a position to bully Allison, but she is. She can in fact bully everyone around her without even meaning to. Gurwara wants her to acknowledge that fact, and see how that affects her belief that bullies are bad.

  • Tylikcat

    Considering that we get another page tomorrow, this might be a better discussion for that page, but I’m actually really curious as to the magnitude of fear that most people would expect to feel in this sort of situation. I’ve… always been the sort of person who’s enjoyed the hell out of classes like this. Now that I’m on the other side of the lectern, I can be ruthless about getting everyone to try and answer questions, but then I try to work with them to make the process and un-scary and painless as possible, to get past the fear response. (And my classes usually become much more interactive quickly, which is good, because “sage on a stage” is not my favorite mode. Honestly, I’m kind of happy that a lot of classes are moving away from lectures.)

    I’ve known there’s a lot of social conditioning against answering questions, and obviously a lot of people aren’t comfortable speaking in public, and not answering is easier – but what’s the actual terror quotient?

    (I realize this is super lame, but I’m serious. Even now, I’m at a private research oriented university, and largely with pre-meds. But it’s just that narrowness that’s the greatest downside of staying research-track.)