Open request to College Professors

20

Stop. Please, just stop.

That’s the simplest thing i can say to you.  Stop doing things the way you currently are, it’s not working, its annoying, and, most importantly, I don’t like it.
I just started my 5th year, and last semester of college here at the lovely University of Hartford, and I must say, some things never change, especially professors, and the way they teach/treat their students. This is sad, because professors have a big impact on students.

I’ve made a list of some things I think professors need to stop doing, and a few they need to start to do.  Because there’s more don’t’s, and I’m in a negative mood, I’m gonna start off with those:

Firstly

On the first day of class, DO NOT read the syllabus to us word for word.  For some reason, every single professor feels the need to spend the first day going over the entire syllabus back to front, letter for letter.  There is nothing worse then to  go to class, only to be forced to sit there and listen to your teacher read to you, like you were in 1st grade again, isn’t that just a bit degrading to students.  You are assuming that they don’t know how to read, and if they do they won’t read it.  Well, let me assure you, we can read.  If we couldn’t read, then you should be asking who did we bribe/sleep with/kill, to be admitted into this school.

Instead why don’t you hand out the syllabus to your class, give them 10 minutes to read it over, and ask any questions they may have.  At that point you can get on with life, be it class, or letting them out early, whatever you choose.  I’m paying something more then $300 per class, please don’t fucking read to me.

Secondly

You can no longer assume that you are smarter then your students.  Period. End of sentence.  With the advent of the internet, (well, mostly Wikipedia), anyone can learn (nearly) everything there is to know about anything.  This is especially relevant for web programing, and programing in general.  Also related to this, do not assume that you’re students don’t know anything about the course.  While it’s probably true for most classes, most of the time, it is not 111% true 111% of the time.

I have had teachers assume that they are automatically smarter then me, no matter how much i demonstrated that I knew the material, I knew shortcuts, and I knew more efficient ways to do what they wanted.  Not only did i feel like i was treated like crap, i got the impression that the professor really didn;t know what he was teaching, and that is NEVER something you want to convey to your students, ever.

Thirdly

Do not require students to do things your way.  Ever.  This goes for writing homework assignments, writing papers, coding (especially coding), doing equations, and pretty much anything.  Regardless of what you were taught, that was at best 10 years, and at worst 50+ years ago, things have (probably) changed.  Calculators were invented for a reason.  Just because you were forced to use a slide ruler to do your math doesn’t mean you can force us to use it.  It’s like saying a paper needs to be typed, but you can only use a typewriter, pointless right?

As soon as a professor tells me “This is how I was taught,” “This is the way i prefer you to do it,” or “You should do it this way” I immediately come up with my own way to do it.  Even if my way takes twice as many pages/lines and requires more time to do, I will insist on doing it my way, and that it’s easier.  Just to be different then you.

I cannot tell you how frustrating this is in coding.  I’ve had teachers tell me that my variable names weren’t specific enough.  I used “t” to represent time.  He wanted me to use “timeItTakesToFall”.  I’m sorry, but no.  I could list a thousand things wrong with your variable, and I will, because I hate you, and if you so much as even think of failing me, I will have the Dean on your ass/job (if not tenured), and you will learn what a proper variable is, when we play Russian Roulette…with a semi-automatic…and you go first…

Fourthly

Do not get the new edition of a book.  You don’t need it, your students don’t need it.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the current version, copyright 2007, no need to get the version copyright 2008.  Cause guess what, the only difference between those two versions (besides the obligatory different colored cover), is that date. Everything else is the fucking same.

On the subject of books, do not require books for the class, if you have no intention of actually assigning work out of them.  Those can go in the recommended reading part of the book list.  There is nothing I hate more then spending $80 on a book I never used, and then not being able to sell it at the end of the semester because you’ve decided to get the new edition of the book you wont use.

Fifthly

Power Point slides.  This is a tricky situation.  On the one hand they are useful because you can do so much with them.  On the other, no one knows how to properly utilize Power Point.  Do Not read from the slide.  This is more of the same as the first point, but also, just plain boring.

If you say that you are posting these slides online somewhere I can guarantee you you have lost the attention of at least 75% of the class.  You have lost mine.  Because I am assuming that you are just gonna read from the slides, something I can do myself thankyouverymuch, I’ll be good just downloading them before the test/quiz and read them then.

Well, those were the bad things, now, onto the good things

One

Be fun.  Joke with your students.  Be politically INcorrect. Trust me, any class I have where the professor starts out with a question like “How many of you all are Jews?” (from a class on the Holocaust) makes for a fun time.  Especially when the teacher knows how to take a joke.  This is important.

Spend some time not doing something related to class.  Show us a funny video you found online.  Class doesn’t always need to be serious all the time.

Two

Know when your class starts, and ends.  Show up on time, and let us out on time/early.  Unless there is an exam, there is really no excuse for keeping us late.  I’ve gotten up and left classes while the teacher was still talking because time was up, and I had somewhere else I had to be.  If/when that happens, don’t get mad.

Three

Tangents.  Like Power Point, tangents can be both wonderful, or deadly depending on how they are used.  Good tangent: humorous story about your weekend.  Bad tangent: 20 minute discussion about the football game that only you and one other student watched.  Talking about sports is good, but only if your class likes sports.  I hate sports, I don’t care about it.  You can ask if anyone watched the game last night, and then what did they think.  And thats it.  No discussion as to how so and so played, who was better.  Nothing.  The only exception is for the school’s actual game, and only when an athlete on that team is in your class.

There, that’s my list of things that professors need to start doing, or stop doing.  School life would be so much better.  I hope someone listens to me…

20 responses to “Open request to College Professors

  1. @Bob
    Well, I’m not going to college to learn how to spell, but regardless, there aren’t that many spelling errors that WordPress, Firefox, or MS Word found. The only thing that came up were “then” and “than” I only use “then” with an e no matter what cause I don’t know the reasons for each.
    Other then that, there are only missed apostrophes on won’t and don’t. Its hit or miss if i put them in or not.

    Regardless, this post is not that bad spelling wise i think.

  2. Nice points, Steve! Just a couple comments: Regarding your first point – I’ll stop going over the syllabus on the first day if you’ll stop asking me what the course policy is every time you miss a quiz. (Point being, not everyone can actually read, and not all those that can, do.) Regarding your third point – I’ll stop asking you to follow my techniques (I teach math) if you’ll start actually getting the problems RIGHT. If you learned one way, and it’s not working, it might be time to try something else!

    Anyway, it’s not actually YOU I’m speaking to, of course. But sometimes there are reasons for why we do the things we do. One thing that helps is to explain WHY, so students like yourself who actually read the syllabus know why I’m spending 1/2 of the first class explaining why quizzes can’t be made up.

  3. Why don’t you “Wiki” or “Google” the difference between then and than, then? I’m sure your professors are smarter than you in the fact that they know the difference.

    Who did you bribe/sleep with/kill to get into college? Because your grammar mistakes are things I was taught in second grade and you obviously show no want to improve in that area.

    My advice to you is to respect your professors and how they do things, even if you continue to do it differently. It is most likely that they are not going to change their teaching methods because one student thinks that the past and traditional methods should be disregarded.

  4. This is really interesting… I might leave it anonymously on a few of my teacher’s desks XD Also, other than a few grammar mistakes, there’s nothing wrong with this post. Ignore Bob, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  5. Coming from an education major, you make me cringe. I hope the majority of students do not have the self entitled air of superiority that you clearly do.
    While a professor shouldn’t assume that he or she is smarter than their students, a good assumption would be that the professor has a large enough knowledge base to teach the course; a much larger one than the run of the mill student. Not all people have the amount of time you apparently do to lurk around Wikipedia masturbating to the thought of one upping their teachers in a heated debate about computer science. Further more, don’t use Wikipedia for knowledge gathering or citing, you should know this by now. Possibly a good place to brush up on a topic, but never a good way to achieve a level of knowledge greater than your professor.
    Not requiring students to do things the teachers way, eh? This sounds like the perfect university. Allowing the students to decide what to be tested on, how to be tested, and ultimately what their final grades are is preposterous. Not allowing students to use calculators is a phenomenal idea in classes where basic math is being used. I understand for higher math classes taking a long time to do enormous calculations would make the class useless, and I’m not arguing that point. I’m saying in lower level math courses, a student should rely on their own brain power. Too many students currently rely too much on technology and not enough on their own brain power. Thirdly, its fourthly, not forthly.
    Not using a new edition for a book; wonderful. Sure, you might save your students a few bucks(or their parents, anyhow), but having a textbook that refers to the Civil Rights movement as “trouble ahead” won’t produce the caliber of student the university probably had in mind.
    Please, please learn to use commas correctly. It will help myself, as well as all others, sort through the jumble of those magical shapes you throw together on the cheeto encrusted keyboard in front of you.
    Yeah! Great idea! The teacher should be your friend! Be politically incorrect all the time! Wonderful! Except that the professor is still a professional. He or she is paid to teach you, not talk about how much Mountain Dew you can chug before your eyes bleed. Teachers are judged not only on what they teach, but also how. A teacher throwing out profanities and racial slurs could quickly find himself or herself without a job. Teachers are paid for one thing, and one thing only. To teach. Deviating from that can quickly get you a pink slip. Look up Howard Zinn if you don’t believe me.
    A teacher being late for class is a human mistake. Most teachers have to find a place to park, run from other classes to yours, or may have one of thousands of other things going on that you don’t know. Teachers are people, and therefore have things in life other than your class to worry about. Shut up, wait, or leave and fail. Or you could skip the class all together, study up on Wikipedia, and get your knowledge through that vein, I guess. But last I checked, Wikipedia wasn’t handing out B.A. degrees. Your call.
    Finally, not everyone shares your complete and utter disdain for moving outside. Some of us watch sports. Hell, even some of us play them. You’d be surprised to see how many people at your university do. Your professor is trying to find common ground with his or her students. What easier way than to discuss something most Americans do: follow or play sports.
    Finally, most university teachers, and all K-12 teachers have to further their education while they teach. When you are hired by a school district, you have up to three years in which to get your Masters. Further more, a large percentage of college professors teach or work in some part of a school district, whether it be as Principal, Superintendent or so on so please don’t lump all teachers together by saying they’re so out of touch with what they teach.
    Finally, the way you write is an extension of who you are. If you write poorly, I can only assume that you are an idiot. But I gathered that from the first sentence you wrote, I didn’t need to finish your piece to figure that one out.

  6. As a new/inexperienced TA teaching my own class for the first time this year, I appreciated some of these. Some I already do “correctly” but some were nice points.

    One thing: I don’t read my syllabus word for word, but I have started going through each bullet point because otherwise students DON’T read it. And if there’s one thing I hate it’s students asking me questions about policies that are clearly addressed in the syllabus. Can I turn in late homework? Is there a curve? Can I take the test at a different time? Where is your office? Read the damn syllabus!

  7. Stop. Please, just stop.
    That’s the simplest thing I can say to you. Stop thinking, and more importantly writing, the way you currently are; it’s not working, it’s annoying, and, most importantly, I don’t like it.
    I just read your shitty bitch-fest of an article after completing class at a school that I don’t feel required to name-drop so that you know how smart I am, and I must say, some things never change, especially whiny, lazy shitheads, and the way they try to justify their own failure by blaming it on others. This isn’t really that sad, because you’ll probably die alone and unloved anyway.
    I’ve modified your list of some things you think professors need to stop doing, and tried to turn it into a form of constructive/destructive criticism that doesn’t focus solely on your inability to prevent awkward tense-shifts. Because there’s mostly only things I hate about your article, and I’m in a negative mood, I’m going to start by trying to control the urge to find a picture of you and take a shit on it:
    Firstly
    “On the first day of class, DO NOT read the syllabus to us word for word.” I actually agreed with you on this one. I am able to read a syllabus on my own time, and find it boring. This seems self-explanatory, however, and really it only wastes one day at most. There is nothing worse than (not “then”) going to (not “to go to”) a website, only to be forced to sit there and read the petty bitching of some whiny tit who, as if he were in 1st grade, can only bring himself to knit pick over the interweb. You are assuming that you are the first person who has ever felt it was unnecessary to have a syllabus read to them. Well, let me assure you, others have thought it. I fucking hate you. That is my conclusion to this paragraph.
    Instead why don’t you ball your fists up real tight and hold your breath until you’re blue in the face. At least then I can’t hear you (or see a visual approximation of what you’re trying to communicate.) I know I’m reading your article for free, but they’re probably trying to be considerate, Steve-o.
    Secondly
    Professors can assume they are smarter than their students. Period. End of sentence. The simple fact that you are paying to attend classes taught by this person (as you were so eager to point out above) generally indicates that you want to hear what they have to say. If you don’t, don’t take the class. Yes there will be students who already know what is being covered, and no, there is no reason for a professor to be degrading in his or her dealings with the class, but professors are being paid to teach, not stick their finger up your ass and tell you how smart you are. Also, 111% is not a legitimate percent to use in this situation. Fuck your math.
    Yes we have all been talked down to by professors. No, this is not a constructive way to hold a class. But to throw a tantrum when the professor won’t let you, the all-knowledgeable STEVE, use some shit-cut, I’m sorry, Freudian slip, you learned on the test, because god forbid he’s trying to teach the other students the fundamentals behind said short-cut, is… well I can’t say it’s “retarded” because at least most retarded people try to learn and better themselves. Let’s just say it’s whiny and immature.
    Thirdly
    “Do not require students to do things your way. Ever.” This blends into the point above, and most likely did not require its own section, so rather than bother trying to explain myself again, I’m going to go ahead and mimic your self-indulgent list-making skills by listing things I would rather stick in my eye than meet you in person: a fork, a knife, a hypodermic needle, a splinter of wood (especially a splinter of wood), the severed foot of a feral cat, and pretty much anything unpleasant. And seriously? Bitching about a calculator? If you don’t know your multiplication tables what in the colorful name of living FUCK are you doing in a college-level math class?
    As soon as you write shit here about a professor telling you, (there should be a comma there for fuck’s sake) “This is how I was taught,” “This is the way I prefer you to do it,” or “You should do it this way, (and there, ass)” I immediately vomit out of my face when you turn it into an excuse to tell me how much of a special little flower you are. Aren’t you just an adorable little anarchist? Did it get to be too hard when all those mean old professors in their tweed jackets huffed and puffed on your house of sunshine and lollipop farts? Eat cocks.
    And I still cannot tell you how frustrating your punctuation and grammar are. I didn’t even read most of this paragraph because you seem like a prick. Oh, and then you asked your teachers to shoot themselves in the head. Constructive!
    Forthly
    God forbid teachers make you learn up-to-date and relevant material. You’re probably right, we don’t need to learn about current events. I’m still curious as to who wins World War II, but hey, I’m sure this old edition of the book is fine. “Cause” is not the correct form of the word you want here. “Cause” implies causality. You almost certainly want “because,” or at least “ ‘cause,” because at least then you’re acknowledging that you’re too lazy to type. Also I can’t believe you swore in bold letters, you are clearly a rebel who plays by his own rules, when can we fuck?
    Seriously Steve, we all hate wasting money, but if a professor tells you to buy a book, chances are (s)he wants you to read it. In all likelihood, they simply doesn’t feel the need to tell you when you should be reading, much in the same fashion your parents no longer feel the need to tell you to wipe your ass after producing fecal matter, such as this article.
    Fifthly
    Allow for creative use of different teaching media in the classroom. A professor should not have to somehow dupe or trick you into paying attention in their class. If you do not want to be in a class, leave it, fuckyouverymuch. Charming witticisms like that also make me want to blow a vein and squirt blood all over your face, you talking anus.
    Well, those were what you somehow thought were bad things, now onto your attempts to not be a total twat for the entire article. Also, notice how your inability to continue with bold headings makes this paragraph look like it goes with the section above, creatively titled “Fifthly.”
    One
    “Be fun. Joke with your students. Be politically INcorrect.” I couldn’t agree with you more. When my civil-rights teacher opened the class by informing us that he “wished you damn niggers had never gotten the vote,” we all just laughed and laughed and laughed! Then he made a girl take off her bra and do jumping-jacks in the front of the room. It was awesome and hurt no one!
    And while I agree that it’s important to have a sense of humor about your topic, not all students need to be the professor’s best friend and wish to spend time that they’re paying to learn in watching clips of a girl farting on live television.
    Two
    How is bitching about punctuality a good thing you Negative Nancy-boy? I’m sorry you’re an inconsiderate shit and don’t feel like hearing the end of a lecture, but eat a dick. Also, did you notice how your headings here don’t match the ones above, or did that require too much effort to pull your head far enough out of your ass to consider formatting?
    Three
    I didn’t even read this paragraph, I hate you so much. You’re a whiny, complaining, overly-sensitive, dish-it-out-but-can’t-take-it cock. To close my response, I would like to quote directly at your ass from a Busdriver song that was probably sampled from a movie or TV show or something but whose source I didn’t feel like looking up:
    “…And like children everybody went back to their rooms. ‘Well we didn’t get a wonderful world of just flowers and peace and happy chocolate, and it wasn’t just pretty and beautiful all the time!’ And that’s what everybody did, ‘We didn’t get everything we wanted just like they did!’ And everybody went back to their rooms and sulked and “we’re just going to play rock and roll and not do anything else, we’re going to stay in our rooms and the world’s a nasty, horrible place because it didn’t give us everything we cried for.’ Right? Crying for it wasn’t enough.”
    There, I fucking hate you, I hope you go mute and blind.

  8. Well, I knew this was not gonna be a universally loved, but I didn’t imagine the amount of hate I have received so far.
    Oh well, such is the internet.

    Feel free to say whatever you want in the comments, post are checked for spam, but they will go through, and I’ll respond to everything I deem deserves it.

  9. @Dan

    I understand what you mean by keeping students from harassing you with questions about when the home work needs to be be handed in and so on. However college is about being responsible, and treating students like the adults they should be, it’s the last step before the real world.

    That being said no one said you as a teacher needs to be nice and spend time in class telling them a 3rd, or 4th time when homework needs to be due. Just firmly say no. That may sound harsh, but we’re all (supposed to be) adults here.

  10. Some general comments:

    1. My calculator reference was towards Linear Algebra and Diff EQ, not elementary statistics, or even plain math one.
    Sure there are ways to do Linear Algebra and Diff EQ by hand, but i have a TI-89 that was meant to do it for me because it takes too much time to do it by hand.

    2. I am not an English major. I used to be a Civil Engineer, then I changed completely to Interactive Information Technology. I never claimed I knew how to write, and I never claimed I grasped the finer points of grammar. I was taught it in elementary school, and I did do poorly on it.

    If you can no doubt tell I have a distinct writing style, I use alot of commas. To me it makes sense and sounds better. Whether or not it works out on paper (or screen) is another story. I try to make my writing somewhat easily readable, but I cannot help it sometimes. I’m sorry if you find it hard to read. I’m not forcing you to read it, and please don’t just reply to me saying I can’t write.

    3. I have much respect for my teachers, they are doing I could never do.

    4. I know there’s a change in the way the headings are written, it was meant to reflect the difference in tone.

    5. fourthly is fucking fixed, that was an honest mistake I glazed over, I’m sorry.

    6. Nona Mouse, and Steve Stevington, I will respond to you…

  11. Your shows possession, such as your website.
    You’re is a contraction of you and are, such as you’re writing about professors.

    However, you mixed them up, in stating “…you’re students…”

    I’m (I am) sure that your professors may know that you’re bringing some valid points.

  12. I think there has been a shift in our society–a university education has come to mean something completely different from what it was originally envisioned to be.

    In our consumer culture, students have come to view education as a product. The colleges are to blame as well, since education has proved to be such a profitable business, they have done little on their end to put things back on track.

    American students (and I Know I am generalizing greatly here) have come to view college as a right of passage, a social contract (with the promise of upscale employment as a return on investment) and generally yet a ‘big hurdle’ that needs to be cleared.

    So we can expect to hear a repeat of this thousands of times over as long as a college education is something that involves
    cash… it is viewed as an investment with a desired return. The attitude becomes “Hey Jack! I am the consumer! I pay the tuition!”

    Let’s pretend there is a utopian university scheme out there, where students are admitted in a truly competitive way with the goal of attaining knowledge (not application), and college isn’t something that is in the expected chain of middle class life. Where the dividend isn’t just a job.

    I’ll bet there won’t be open requests there.

  13. I think Steve Stevington has said all that really needs saying-and beautifully done. I <3 you, Stevington; you rock my world. To Steve the first: eat cocks–go mute.

  14. Can’t say I agree with you on most of your points.
    Firstly
    A Professor has to read a syllabus at the start of a new class because I guarantee that 75% of the students there will either not bother to read the finer points until calculating their marks before handing in a final project/attending the final exam, or flat out lose it.

    Secondly
    Students have always and will always assume that they know more than their teachers. They will create shortcuts they swear by, and find solutions to problems they think are flawless. However, what the student may not realize at the time is that their short cuts and solutions though the epitome of a quick fix–will probably only work in very particular circumstances. The Professor is offering you fail safe equations and practices that will work 100% of the time, so stop being a know-it-all dick. If you knew everything there was to know you wouldn’t be in the class.

    Thirdly
    Professors usually ask you to do things their way to prove that you’ve actually been attending and attentive in their classes. It’s called standardized testing so suck it up.

    Fourthly
    Normally I’d agree with you on the book issue, but as you’ve made it clear that you’re making reference to computer classes–the MOST rapidly changing subject in education, you’ve got to be a fool to put down a Professor for making the most up to date book necessary.

    Fifthly
    Professors use power point so they don’t have to repeat themselves a thousand times for students who were too busy with solitaire or chatting with their neighbours about who knows what. And I’ve never attended a class that I could pass a test just by reading a power point presentation. Ridiculous! They’re only useful when preparing notes for study.

    Your pros aren’t really pros. You come off as a degenerate student complaining about half baked irritations. Good luck with egotism, I’m sure it’s a lovely dancing partner.

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