Ok, because of anonymous' reaction, I think I might need to reframe my argument here, or maybe adjust my preachified tone or something.
I love my students, and am invested in their growth technically. I don't always accomplish this, nor does my exposition regarding contemporary art always yield new opinions. I know this.
I am not enlightened, but what I am and have always been is curious. I always investigated art and art-making and tried to figure out where I fit in. And I'm surprised and underwhelmed when others are apathetic and lack curiosity. Pretentious of me? Self-centric? Maybe, but teaching others (esp. art) is experiential and frankly, it's hard for me to imagine a teacher or teaching style not based on experience. Some people just do a better job at hiding their bias than others.
For the record, I usually assign older artists in tandem with contemporary ones; i.e. I am not totally contempo-centric.
And my students are mostly juniors, not freshmen, which makes me a little more demanding in terms of their art-historical knowledge and concept understanding. I don't expect my freshmen to know Caravaggio, let alone Mike Kelley.
But anon., the beauty and downfall of UT's art dept. is that it is entirely faculty-driven, so of course you're going to get a roller-coastery multitude of opinions. Sometimes it's good, sometimes bad. Tenured or not, everyone has a niche and often a very opaque predisposition. The opposite extreme would be a department that had a consistent aesthetic and conceptual code, stamping every student with a certain look and artistic mission.
So, it's good to have opinions, I just like ones that are well-researched. And I appreciate your response, because it made me think a little about my approach. And that's cool.
There were a lot of shitty insinuations though, my dear anon, some of which you might need to clean up if you want to be taken seriously. And I think you should air your grievances to UT, not me, to some tenured prof. who actually has the power and institutional validation to make things happen.