Thursday, January 4, 2007

Memo to Self: Don't Be Like This. Oh, and Cut the Beard.

My Business Law professor seemed completely disinterested in us, his 300 some odd students, and our overall well-being. I can't say I ever felt comfortable or invited enough to meet him outside of the classroom, not even in office hours (oh wait, he didn't have them), so I definitely don't know much about him at all. Yet his demeanor in class said, "I'm going to make this class unnecessarily difficult, and do very little to calm your anxiety, or to help you along. "

He never used a microphone, on a campus where almost every professor with a class above 50 students uses a microphone, regardless of the acoustics in the room. He kept a very long beard and mumbled to a great extent. And when asked multiple times at the beginning of the semester if he could speak up, or if he'd considered using a microphone, he'd respond exactly the same way every time, "There are still a few seats left up here in the front." We asked him countless times during the semester a myriad of questions worded in many different ways regarding class grades, scoring, a curve, etc. He never gave an adequate answer. But he'd always explain that we have only a midterm and a final. The final is weighted more heavily. He couldn't give a grading scale, or even a hint of past scales used, because he just couldn't say with any certainty unless having all of the final grades in front of him. I can't say I've ever had another professor speak as ambiguously as he could. It may have something to do with his being a lawyer. Oh and to add, we have no other chances at points in that class, no homework or quizzes, nor participation grades. Midterm = 100 T/F questions. Final = 25 multiple choice + 175 T/F.

And lastly, most freshly in my mind, were the events of the last loving moments together with his 300+ stressed out and angry students and Professor Business Law. Before the tests were handed out, one student asked how we could expect to get our grades from the final. He answered very shortly, as always, "I don't know. (Odd silent pause throughout the room.) "However the University normally distributes your grades, I would assume." Then he gave us the before-test disclaimer, "Do not ask me any questions. I will not answer them. Play each question 'as it lies.'"

True-false question #58 stated, "Trademarks are all example of intellectual property." I determined there must be a typo, and thought of two ways the question may have been intended to be phrased. The question may have supposed to have read, "Trademarks are AN example of intellectual property" in which case the answer would be true. Or possibly, "Trademarks are all exampleS of intellectual property," meaning possibly trademarks are the only example of intellectual property, answer, false. And taking into account the intentionally confusing manner of all of our professor's questions, and his lawyer-esque language, option number two was not completely out of the question in my mind. I approached the professor with the question, and asked if he'd correct a typo. "No, I will answer no questions." "Not even if it's a mistake that affects the answer that I would choose?" "Everyone has to play it as it lies."

Do professors really exist that attempt to intentionally anger a student? 300 students? Could this professor actually be a decent, non-arrogant man who wishes us well in the future? Or is my opinion of an accredited University professor, that he doesn't care one bit whether we learn or don't learn, valid? I hope my post here has helped other poorly rated professors see why we students can become so hostile, especially after grades are turned in and we look back on the entire semester, remembering so vividly the times we were shunned and ridiculed as inferiors who had no right to a good grade.