There’s always that one professor/ teacher. Content has been edited for clarity.
Setting His Students Up To Fail
“My Intro To Communications professor said this: ‘I don’t believe in the artificially inflated grading system we are experiencing, so I grade on a strict bell curve. There are 25 people in this class, so no matter how well everyone does, some of you are getting an F.’
I immediately thought, you may not care about that inflated grading system, but the job market and grad schools certainly do. Dropped that class as soon as that first lecture was over.”
A Different Professor Made For A Wildly Different Experience
“I took a Communication Law class in Journalism school. The first time I took it, the professor taught it like a law class where you had to just memorize cases, judges who wrote the opinions, and which precedent had been set by the decisions. I really don’t do well with rote memorization. I don’t internalize the material if I learn that way. So I got a C. Because it was a class required for my major, I had to have an A or a B to get my degree, so I had to take it over again.
The other professor in the j-school who taught that class taught it more from a spatial relationships point of view. We’d learn about privacy law and then the test questions would be like, ‘You call off work and go to a pro football game. Your boss sees you on TV, cheering in the crowd, and fires you. Were your rights to privacy violated?’ That sort of method made me really think about how to apply the law, which was the point of the class. So second time around, I got an A. Same material. Taught wildly different ways.”
He Had To Speak Out Instead Of Dropping The Course
“I am currently studying law at a Scots university.
I am a mature student, though. I’m 53 not 17 or 18, like most of my classmates.
My tutor returned a summative essay to us – one that counted for the grade – saying that whenever we referred to a child by the collective pronoun ‘they’ instead of ‘he or she,’ she had marked us down. Since, as she said rather hollowly, the third person plural cannot refer to a singular subject. She looked around the class challengingly.
I could not help myself. I raised my hand and said that, in the frame of modern grammar, she was wrong, that when the gender of a child or children is unknown or immaterial, the collective ‘they’ is both appropriate and correct.
She snapped back that she was a Contributing Editor of the Scots Family Law Bulletin – a magazine read about by twelve Glaswegian social workers – and also its copy editor, and that she knew the rules of formal grammar and I did not. The implied invitation was that I should shut up.
Oh dear, oh dear. I didn’t get as bald and as fat as I am by putting up with that kind of pipsqueakery. I pointed out that I, in turn, was until recently, a ten year-associate editor of the London Literary Review and a co-author of the most recent version of The Economist Style Guide and that if she started marking us down for grammatical errors in what was essentially a qualifying test necessary for professional advancement unrelated to the structure and rules of the language in which it was set, I would refer to the matter to the Head of School via my solicitor. And that I had both the resources and the inclination to do this.
Deathly silence. We moved on. On the way out, I felt little things hitting me on the back of the neck, and I turned around angrily, like an old man returning soup, to find out who was throwing things at me, but it was only kids patting me surreptitiously on the back. Anyway, the following week, we all received an email saying that if the meaning was clear, we would no longer be penalised for minor grammatical errors or ambiguities.”
This Teacher Wanted Students “Take Initiative” And Walk To School
“I had a horrible math teacher in my 11th year. I was in the honors class by force, and usually, for math, I catch on quickly.
No. Not with this guy. We all thought he was joking about giving out Fs to like half the class, but there was also more to it. He didn’t teach the material, just told us to go online and look it up. There was no paper homework, which made the class impossible for me and at least three of my classmates. Our wifi was either non-compatible with the school distributed laptop things or completely nonexistent in my friends’ case.
And then he tested us on stuff we didn’t even know we had to know.
After we complained about the situation with the computer only homework, I dropped that class so fast. His reply to our complaints, word for word, was: ‘Then you take the initiative and come to school early. If you can’t get a ride, then ride a bike. If you don’t have a bike, walk.’
My friend, who had no wifi in her house, had to walk to school every day, even in the negative weather in winter because her parents couldn’t give her a ride, and wouldn’t let her drop the class.”
When A Grad Student Can’t Help You, It’s Time To Drop
“Years ago, I had a 100 level art history class where a research paper comprised 40% of your grade. She said the highest grade she had ever given on the paper was a B and that 60% of us would get an F on the paper. The grad student English comp teacher that lived across the hall couldn’t help me. He said he’d never, ever seen criteria as demanding. You had to have 10 credible primary sources and those authors had to have been published in five credible secondary sources.
That’s 50 sources for a 100 level paper. This was in the mid 90’s when internet searches were…difficult…and the library was your best bet.”
Tenure Meant This Teacher Could Act Totally Obnoxious
“I was in an infuriating position with an Intro to Comm professor. She’d written the textbook, but despite being both a communications professor and the book supposedly having been through four revisions, it was littered with huge typos and grammatical errors. Not small ones either, ones that completely changed the meaning of the sentences they were in. She didn’t believe in synonyms. Vocab used had to exactly match the passage in the book, even though she’d lose track of what words she was using, and occasionally forgot to replace them with her fakakta nomenclature in the passages she copied and pasted from superior textbooks.
Every lecture usually had a brag-period of about 25 minutes where she listed her personal accomplishments in the business world or shared some inane story that only connected to the material by the barest suggestion of relevancy.
She overtalked students continuously, (again, in an intro to speech class, where developing confidence in speaking is the whole point) and there were fewer than three actual public speaking opportunities over the entire semester. In a college classroom, she thought she was within her rights to stop a woman from quietly looking down at her phone. She thought it was cheating if you wore a watch while speaking, so you wouldn’t go over time.
I could go on and on.
…She was tenured, of course.”
The Stars Didn’t Align To Make This Class Passable
“Back in college, I signed up for a 100-level astronomy course, thinking it would be cool to learn about stars. Nope, it was 90% math. It took up 4/5 of my time because there was loads of incredibly difficult homework. I remember going to study groups of 4-5 people, and everyone was just completely stumped trying to do this work.
Worse, there were these assignments that entailed having to be at a place on a date/time so you could measure the shadows of the angle of the sun. Busy at that time? Oh well, guess you failed the assignment.
All this for a 100-level elective! I dropped it after two weeks; someone I knew who hung on said it went from about 70 people to about 15 in about that time.
The professor seemed to delight in this but it’s really just obnoxious to force this kind of workload on a bunch of non-majors just because.”
Shamed For Asking A Simple Question
“At my college, I had to do a practicum course to get my teaching license. The head of this program was such a prick. She sat there and taught us that asking questions is always a good thing to do. I asked her if we should keep a timesheet of when we checked into and out of ‘work’ at the schools we were assigned and she flat out said, ‘I am very concerned that you are here and are asking that question.’
Not only did she not answer my question, but shamed me for asking it and then, months later, demanded that we all have completed timesheets for our months of work that she never once brought up save for shooting down my one questions.
They also threatened to drop us from the course if they found out we were working at other jobs. Like, sorry, but this class is me working for free for a school full-time and you aren’t giving me any sort of stipend. My parents weren’t rich, I had to pay car insurance, bills, gas, food bills etc. Sorry, but that was ridiculous.
I thankfully had a very down-to-earth, experienced, world-traveled, and amazing mentor teacher. A lot of others in my program had teachers that basically saw their student teachers as butlers.”
“I’m The One They Warned You About”
“My college had a ridiculous math professor and it really hurt the engineering program, so much that they phased out engineering entirely because of low admission and high dropout rate. He was the only professor who taught a few required courses for engineering and lots of people just couldn’t make it through his class. So they’d either change their major, transfer to a different school, or drop out entirely.
I gather there was some reason why the school couldn’t fire him because it had a negative effect on the college in a lot of ways. And he loved it, too. I took (and failed) one of his classes and he started with, ‘I’m the one they warned you about.'”
He Banned Them From Using This Necessary Symbol
“It seems teachers have lots of power and little accountability if they have been there long enough, even at the high school or middle school level. College is a whole different level.
I had a calculus teacher that wouldn’t let us use the infinity symbol. Nothing I could do about it besides dropping the course. He had been there forever and was retiring at the end of the semester so there was no real way of deterring him and they couldn’t fire him even though virtually all of his students complained. I got weird looks for a long time in my calc classes when I would ask if it was ok to use the infinity symbol. Frequent response: ‘how else do you write an integral to infinity/negative infinity?’
One teacher can institute policies which will seriously harm the development of their students if they are not kept in check which is why I hate the way we do education- the teacher is God and no one can question them, especially if they are tenured. We give lots of power over the development of our future to people who have political ambitions and selfish perspectives.”
This Professor Ran Her Lecture More Like A Daycare
“I had a Health & Nutrition teacher in a three-hour block class at a community college who absolutely refused to let us use the restroom during her class period. She said we were all adults and could hold it for 3 hours (technically one and a half hour blocks w/ a five minute break, but the bathroom was way down the hall and had super long lines, and the prof kept an actual points sheet for tardiness and refused to start the class until everyone was present). Some of the students protested– a dude in his 60s, a woman in her 40s, a mother/ daughter pair– each citing varying issues like course schedule (taking a full load of courses with five minutes between classes was not enough time for bathroom breaks; needed to occasionally excuse themselves from a class) to legit health issues (diabetes/ kidney/ etc), but prof was adamant.
One day in class, the mom of the mother/daughter pair stood up and walked out during the lecture. Prof stopped talking and stared at the door in dead silence until she returned. She walked back in, we’re all, of course, watching the door, and the prof said chillingly, ‘Care to explain yourself?’
The mom was like, ‘Yeah, I had to pee and I wasn’t going to pee my pants in class. I’m 53 years old and I know my own body, and I’m sorry I had to do it during your class, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.’ She sat down and stared defiantly at the prof until the prof finally broke eye contact and went on with the lesson.
The next day, the prof changed the bathroom policy, so thank God for that lady.”
This Professor Was Incredibly Out Of Touch
“I had a ‘career student’ once. She had us do unnecessary and repetitive steps to show our work. After she’d docked over half my points once, I went to complain to her. I pointed out that my answers were correct and my work is shown so I shouldn’t fail an assignment for reducing redundancy.
This is me paraphrasing her:
‘In the real world when you have a job, you are expected to do exactly as the boss says. If your boss gives you a project and you go to them like, “Hey boss, I did that project you asked. I skipped some steps but the final result is exactly what you wanted anyway,” you’d be fired!’
I pointed out to her that not only would you not be fired, but there are entire departments dedicated to reducing redundancy, cost reduction, and streamlining. She brushed it off and told me not to challenge her.
I can’t stand career students.”
They Dropped The Class After The Teacher Ruined Their Love Of Art
“I was a freshman in high school and I wanted to take a 101 drawing class for my art credit.
On day one, the teacher put a vase with flowers up front and told us all to draw them. Then he walked around to everyone like, ‘Nope, this is trash. This doesn’t look like flowers at all. You should be taking a different art class,’ etc.
When he did it to me, I walked right out and enrolled in theater class. About 50% of the kids walked out in the first 20 minutes of class. I was told later, as a senior, that he did this because he hated people taking his class as a blow-off class, and liked small class sizes of students who really had a passion for drawing.
It really messed me up, though. I ended up becoming a graphic designer and I still can’t draw.”
His Term Paper Wasn’t Up To Snuff
“I had to go over the teacher’s head to the Dean. The teacher was a pompous prick to students from day one, but I needed the class to transfer at the end of the semester and he was only willing to do it every other semester. Basically, he had one day during the course that he had everyone in the class who didn’t know how to write a term paper go the library with him and basically be told how to do it (in pompous speak, how HE wanted it). He told the class he ‘recommended it.’ I skipped that day because I’d done lots of term papers.
So fast forward to two weeks before the end of the term, turning in the paper. He pulls out a notebook and went, ‘Hmm, did you attend the term paper lecture?’ I said no I did not. He replied, ‘Ohhhhhh…well then I won’t be accepting a term paper from you.’ So now I’m potentially ruined. I could go from an A to an F in one stroke, fail the course, and be prevented from transferring. I talked to him in his office hours and basically was talked down to for half an hour about how this is simply my fault for not having the discipline to do the coursework.
I left his office and immediately went to the dean. My specific complaint was that teachers in colleges in that state are completely disallowed to grade based on attendance, his syllabus in no way specified any attendance requirements on that or any other day (which isn’t allowed anyway), and that my attempts to reach a solution with him met with ridicule and contempt. I met with the Dean the next day, explained my position.
Lo and behold, the next class, he asked me to meet with him during his office hours. The smug dud literally said to me, ‘I don’t see why you couldn’t talk to me about this. Did you at least try and see if we could have worked this out?’ I explained that I felt our last conversation covered his intentions quite clearly. The guy then sighed and said, ‘I’ll take that as a no.’
Wrapping up, he accepted my term paper, still marked me down one letter grade from an A to a B, I passed that class and transferred out, and gave that dude every negative review I could.
Turns out I should’ve paid attention to more red flags than that because 8 months later I get a call from some attorney asking if I’d be willing to testify to that teacher’s behavior during that semester because apparently the guy was harassing/intimidating some female students.
I hope he went to jail.”
She Gave Him A Zero For The Craziest Reason
“I used to slash my zeroes in math. One time I got back a quiz with every single answer marked as wrong. The teacher went through every question, and I had every one of them right. I called her out on it and said she had marked all my questions wrong and she should grade it again in front of the class. She made up an excuse that because all my slashes look like they were vertical to her, that meant it was the Greek theta or something, and therefore all my questions answers were wrong.
Every single student in the class spoke out against her, and we filed a complaint against her with the dean of students. We had a new teacher within a week.”