Mar 032002

I’m delighted to say that in my five years at CSU, there have only been two or three professors worthy of my hatred. For the most part, I’m very pleased with the quality of my higher education, and I have no legitimate complaints concerning the instruction I’ve received.

However, the legitimacy of a potential complaint has never been a factor in whether or not I’ll express it (longtime readers are nodding their heads in knowing agreement), so I’ve decided to suppress my contentment and expose three annoying things CSU professors have a tendency of doing. Enjoy.

1. Group Work

Why, God? Why?

The professors that divide up the class for group discussions … are they too lazy to just teach for a mere class period? Are group presentations a simple ploy so an instructor can relax for an hour while small groups of terrified students “teach” the class? Or do professors honestly believe that students learn from group discussions or presentations?

Here’s a little secret for the instructors reading this column: when you’re not hovering over a group, eavesdropping on their conversation and making sure they’re staying on topic, the students are likely talking about one thing – you. Specifically, unflattering impressions of you and unkind assessments of your class.

Group work isn’t productive, and it usually undermines your efforts, so what do you say you get off your lazy or deluded ass, and teach. OK?

2. Political Proselytizing

I once took a class on Pre-Euclidian geometry and the professor devoted not one, not two, but three lectures on how the evil President Bush wants to destroy the Alaskan wilderness because he’s a greedy ‘ole meanie. The first day I thought “whatever.” The second day I thought “again?” By the third day I was ready to hitchhike to Alaska with nothing more than a can of gasoline and a box of matches.

The point I’m making is that passionate political speeches have their place, and that place is not behind a teaching podium. If you want to convert impressionable young minds to your particular ideology, you’ll have much better luck if your listeners don’t perceive you as an authority figure.

Take it from me: I came into CSU with an open mind and a blank slate, but after countless overt conversion attempts from liberal instructors, I’m graduating alarmingly conservative. I’m not sure this is where I want to be on the political spectrum, but I definitely feel as if I was pushed. And not by the right-wingers.

3. Commandeering ADA Desks

In almost every classroom on campus, there’s a bulky gray desk with a large blue sticker affixed to one corner of the surface. On this sticker is the image of a figure in a wheelchair.

Although the purpose of the desk strikes me as quintessentially self-explanatory, there’s a disturbing number of instructors who see this desk with this sticker and say to themselves, “this table must be for the placement of my course-related documents, personal effects and overhead projector. Hell, it’s probably comfortable enough for me to sit on while the class is working together in groups, and high enough so that everyone can see me while I’m sharing my feelings on how Attorney General John Ashcroft’s immigration policies are shockingly racist.”

The desk is then pushed to the front of the room, and when class is over, the desk doesn’t get pushed back to where it can be conveniently used by someone for whom it was designed. While the vast majority of students probably never notice this activity, I do.

So instructor-friends, in these three recurring instances, I’m less than impressed.

Jon Watkins is a senior majoring in English.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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