After chatting with some other academics, I felt it was worth revisiting this post from 2010. Seth Godin posted a blog post http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/10/pushing-back-on-professors.html about how students need to push back-perhaps expect more from their mediocre college professors. I didn’t really take offense at the blog post. I don’t think Godin is speaking to me. My favorite part of my job, as a college professor, is the classroom–lecturing and engaging with students. I’m good with people–well, most people. Don’t believe the lies on RMP. The haters are gonna hate and motivate, and potatoes are going to potate. (OK, inside joke and perhaps a bad one).
I get what Godin is saying, but he’s making a big assumption about students. We get lots of unmotivated and perhaps barely mediocre students in our classroom. But, I do want to respond to parts of his blog. I really want to push back on the mediocre or barely mediocre students who come to class unprepared or only wanting to offer knee jerk commentary and not real engagement with the course materials. I wish that all of the students in my class came to class prepared and ready to discuss the readings, but this is not the case. It might be the time of day or the time of the term and the students just cannot give 70% to the class.
I have countless students who don’t bother to even come to class, pick up their work or attend their tutorials. Students need to remember that they are also responsible for engaging in their education. Professors are only part of the equation. A good class really includes good students or students who are there to learn. Students are responsible to and for a good class. If they give very little, they are going to get very little out of the class. I don’t have a wand to dispense information. Now, there are mediocre professors–no doubt. Students need to try to get the professor to get excited about the material again. This is where asking insightful questions and coming ready to talk about the material is crucial. Go visit the professor during office hours and talk about the material and class. Demonstrate that you care–sometimes professors need reminders! Take ownership over your education and get involved-act like you care. It rubs off on the class. Trust me, I am embarking on my 15 year. Mouth agape. 15 years.
Thanks for your post! I think Godin is also unfamiliar with the level of preparation for college that we see in many students today. The types of lower-level interview questions he cites from a student interview attempt are, unfortunately, the kinds of questions many students are equipped to deal with. Not to mention the fact that he has no idea about the context for this student’s assignment; perhaps the professor is leading the students in a research project that uses this basic information or is having the class gather responses from many different professions with regard to these questions. I agree with him that faculty must experiment with new teaching methods, keep up with technology, stay current in their fields, etc., but his rush to judgment based on this one encounter is a bit over the top.
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