'I truly doubt that you have opposable thumbs'

January 27, 2006

Lecturers skewer their least loved undergrads and offer harsh truths about life in the customer satisfaction jungle

* Anonymised rankings from Rate Your Students

"B"

I really don't give a shit about your girlfriend, how some minor point I made in class pertains to your life, or any of the hundreds of boring anecdotes you manage to blurt out in the time it takes for me to run from the classroom (and you) to my office for that "important meeting".

Maybe if you had actually passed any of my tests, I might have seen your banter as something more than a weak attempt to befriend me in the hopes that I wouldn't give you the F you so richly deserve (and, in the end, will receive).

"Voldemort"

Hygiene: poor

Integrity: low

Snarkyness: high

Watch out for this one. He'll cut you down with administration behind your back while smiling at you. He wants to be a politician and, if all things are equal, he'll end up a used car salesman. Avoid small-group situations with this one.

"O"

You're sensitive. I get it. Bursting into tears when a C+ comes down the pike, however, is not endearing. What would be endearing is if you saved your modest strength for actually doing the reading for a test.

"T"

You drain the life out of every class. You have the worst attitude of any student I've met in more than ten years in the classroom. You think you're entitled to half the class time to solve your problems, when your problems are all created out of your laziness and inattention.

You barrage us all with the story of how your car got stolen, or your printer blew up or how your uncle had an operation on his toe and the whole family gathered for it. You missed two classes for that. Do you imagine that I'm stupid? I am sick of you, sick of your face, and if I can just make it through six more classes I'll never have to see you again.

"G"

Density: Off-scale; skull has its own gravitational field.

Hotness: - 2.

Your opinion of your abilities: 1.

My pity. I truly doubt that you could read this. In fact, I truly doubt that you have opposable thumbs.

"W"

Hotness: 4

Intelligence: 9

Ability to Depress: 10

Why won't you just tell those friends of yours to get lost. If they don't want you to go to college, then how can you think they're really watching your back? You're a smart kid, too smart to stay in the life your friends seem to be stuck in. Keep striving. Keep working. This place is working for you, and the benefits are going to be lifelong!

* Rate Your Students contributors on themselves

I'm a big man, over 300lb. Not especially fit. I get a big red face after walking up the stairs to class. I make the occasional remark about the size of my belly when I'm feeling especially self-conscious.

Those facts, however, don't have much to do with what I teach in finance. I know my job. I'm skilled, insightful, and have had a long professional career before coming to the university. Yet my students find that the only way they can understand me, the only way they can fit me into their narrow world-views, is to call me "fatty". It's right there next to my name a handful of times on Rate My Professors. Nothing about whether I stay after class or not. Nothing about me helping them with their projects.

Nothing about whether I challenge them, teach them, lead them, or make them work hard. Just that I'm a fat ass, and this recent post: "He loves him some big fat lady too I bet."

Why on earth do you think I come to Rate Your Students for a little proxy thrill? Student evaluations, both on campus and the Rate My Professors variety, have proven to be useless. I've never learnt a thing from them.

Students take haymaker swings at whatever foibles I have - did I mention I sometimes stutter when I speak too quickly? - and these are documents I'm supposed to use, supposed to consult. Has it occurred to anyone that 19-year-old stoners wearing Greek letters don't have the foggiest fucking idea what it means to be a professor?

A professor of business at a large public university

You can't prick the illusion that our dainty students and their equally dainty and entitled parents have. Mummy and Daddy believe Junior is gifted and brilliant, wise and funny, soon to be making more money than any damn teacher ever dreamt of.

The fact that Junior won't read, write or think is just splitting hairs. Junior is so besotted with Cuervo that he can't find his way to my class any more often than two times a week. And I, without tenure, without "standing", have to pass his ass on to the next level because of the endless but subtle pressure from everyone above me at this university.

It's my failure, isn't it, if I can't engage Junior? It couldn't be the glue-sniffing or the iPod that is jammed deep into his brain. No, Junior's failure is mine. After all, Junior's parents pay the $18,000. The cheque cleared. He's safe. The only one feeling the pressure is me.

A professor of philosophy at a large private university

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