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Is Your Professor a Jerk?

December 12, 2014

Believe it or not, some students confide in me about their other professors. They are effusive about some professors and lecturers. Everyone knows who those professors/lecturers are. Mostly, I hear a lot of grousing about the ones who are stingy with A’s. (The only students who will talk to me on that level are the two or three students that win the lottery and make A’s in my class). Other professors hear the moaning and griping too. (Some gripe about me, I’m sure, but it is rare that they do it to my face). Most want to hear me say something that confirms their opinion that their other professors are  jerks.

I know these people. Some of them have been on the faculty longer than I have. A lot of them are idiots. I freely admit that here. Would I say something bad to anyone in the department about another faculty member? Nope. As far as anyone knows, I believe that everyone is brilliant. As a result, I believe that most faculty members distrust me, especially the not-so-brilliant. They know that they’re dim bulbs on the Christmas Tree of Life. I’m sure they know that it’s all a game.

Then there are the ones who believe that they are shining stars among a universe of black holes. I confirm their sometimes desperate attempts to convince others that they are what they say they are.

Every year, the publishers set up shop in the conference room to hawk their books to teachers. It’s usually just the student teachers who browse the books. One of the graduate faculty publishes a book for writing every three years. Rarely does anyone pick his book to use in his freshman writing class. It’s because the professor is a jerk, and nobody wants his reputation to rub off on him. The guy doesn’t realize that his teaching method and personality hamper his book sales. His photo on the department website doesn’t help him too much either.

When I’m asked how to handle the jerk professors, I tell the student to just drop the course as soon as possible, preferably on Drop Day, the last day on which a student may drop a course before the professor can assign a grade. Most professors don’t give tests or assign papers before then, and for good reason. A lot of them would lose a substantial number of students. Oddly enough, few students drop my course before Drop Day. The ones who wait too late deserve what they get; I give them ample evidence that I’m one of the jerk professors.

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