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My Philosophy Teacher Called Me a Dipshit


The one and only time I've ever gotten a D on a paper was in undergrad Philosophy at Temple University. My professor, a quirky old man who wore a tan fishing vest to each class, annoyingly laughed at his own smart ass comments. 

As he handed out the papers, he smacked some gum in his jaw, and stammered a muffled joke. Then he loudly exclaimed, "If you got a D, it's for dipshit and it means you're a dipshit." 

I looked down and saw the red D on my paper in horror. Everyone in the class giggled and I couldn't help but wonder if they were all laughing at me, did they know that I was the dipshit he spoke of?

I don't remember if I was more annoyed at the fact that he never actually taught us anything, so the paper topic made very little sense to begin with, or with the fact that he insulted me so badly.

I have always taken school way too seriously and I was only used to seeing A and B on the corner of my paper. Maybe I've gotten a few C's, but NEVER a D with a heaping side of slander. Ok, perhaps it wasn't actual slander but it felt...well, for lack of a better word, shitty

I'm still not sure if that was a secretively motivating move on his part or if he was just a human who neglected to think or empathize prior to speaking. 

In my fury, I made an appointment to visit the vest man during his office hours. I was determined to tell him what he did was wrong and that he can't speak to students that way.

I was wearing a pale blue, thick knit cable sweater the day we met. It took all I had not to cry as I sat in front of the fisherman and told him how his comment made me feel. 

I was prepared to take the issue further but he apologized. I was stunned. And grateful.

Not one day went by in my college career where I didn't think about how amazing it was to be a part of a university. The wonder I felt walking across campus and the limitless possibility tucked in every corner was the highlight of being a college student for me. 

Every once in a while I came across a teacher like this who was rude, selfish and lazy. 

I wonder why I remember those teachers, sometimes more than others. And today I realize perhaps they are my constant reminder, that we can always choose better. 

We can choose to think before we speak.

We can choose to motivate instead of squash.

And we can choose to apologize because it matters when we do


Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash



  • I am so sorry that you had to go through that experience! In today’s world, that would be considered abusive, probably then too. Teachers hold a lot of power with their words and that type of talk can really have a negative impact on a young person. I’m glad you were able to see him as he was and soar elegantly and gallantly beyond his ludicrous label! Great blog post!

    Nicole Wehner
  • Wonderful story! So proud of you for standing up for YOU!

    Janice Telstar
  • Wonderful story! So proud of you for standing up for YOU!

    Janice Telstar
  • Funny title, heartbreaking post. Someone is always trying to silence a woman.

  • This so so marvelous. It made me cry. Good for you for being your own advocate. This is my favorite of all your writings so far, that I’ve read.

    Jan Helen

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