Friday, March 15, 2013

Ray Carney responds

I won't recap the situation with Mark Rappaport, but Ray Carney has finally told his side of the story. It is much as I expected it would be. I suspect the truth of things is neither the sole province of the Rappaport/ Jost camp, nor Carney's, but I'm glad, at least, that I didn't sign that petition. That was quite a nasty mass phenomenon, eh? I wonder if a few people are worrying now that they made a mistake?

Of course, it would be good if Carney DID produce some of the copious documentation he says he has, backing up his version of things. I'm actually kind of glad to see he hasn't lost his fight, but if he has the opportunity of proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is absolutely in the right, as he claims, he would do the world a great service by BACKING THAT CLAIM UP WITH EVIDENCE, IN THE MOST PUBLIC WAY POSSIBLE. Scans of original documents in Rappaport's handwriting would be the best place to start. If such things exist, they might shame a few people into being more cautious what bandwagons they jump on, at the very least. If he has the power to take this out of the realm of the "he said/ she said," he should.

On the other hand, as I'm sure Jon Jost will rush to say, Carney says nothing that you wouldn't expect a man in his position to say. I have an Australian friend who anticipated Carney's side of things almost to the letter, actually, but this does not necessarily mean Carney is actually in the right.

Somewhat surprisingly, aspects of this story are beginning to remind me a little bit of the story of an SFU Linguistics professor I had named Hector Hammerly, now deceased. I won't recap that story at length, either, but there are various links here. A former friend, then a fellow student of Hammerly's, used to joke about how perfect his last name was, as an adverb - "to teach in a Hammerly manner;" and no doubt he was as big a pain in SFU's ass as Carney sounds like he's been to BU's; he had several unpopular views that he was quite passionate about defending, from a rather over-the-top, tilting-at-windmills antipathy towards "immersion" language teaching to unpopular views about God and morality... He was beyond a doubt not the easiest person for the faculty to work with; he was certainly NOT the easiest teacher to study under. All the same, he was pushed out of the university with what seemed at least to this outsider to be a bit of smear campaign, which involved front-page newspaper stories in the Vancouver Sun and such about how he'd lost his mind; these seemed hurtful and rather one-sided, so much so that one suspected that he'd lost his tenure at SFU not because he behaved in the manner described in the news reports, but that the news reports existed because of an agenda to remove him from the university.

For the record, though I have culled almost every other textbook I acquired at SFU, I still have a copy of Hammerly's main one, Synthesis in Language Teaching, on my shelf. I believe it was self-published, actually (as, by coincidence, are several of the Carney books I have). My favourite teachers have almost always been the genuinely difficult, exceptional ones - eccentrics, control freaks, passionate weirdos, troublemakers. They're the ones you remember, the ones who make a mark on you, even if, at the time, you can't stand them.

It would have been interesting had circumstances allowed me to study under Ray Carney. I considered it once.


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