Tag Archives: professors

Let’s talk professors

[I’m just going to refer to all of these professors in the male pronoun to avoid the tedium of using he/she, him/her, etc.]

I was just reading for a class i hate, and it occurred to me why i hate this class and the professor that teaches it so much.  Then i started thinking back to all the different types of professors i’ve had over the past four years:

1.  The unintelligent professor

This professor just holds you back and there is absolutely no point in taking a class with him, unless you’re the kind of student who’s into taking advantage of this type’s lack of intelligence and getting an easy A out of the course.  Sometimes you sympathize with him when all the students talk shit about him behind his back or corner him or even belittle him in class discussions.  But in the end, you wonder why you’re paying to learn nothing, and if you’re smart, you drop the course while you can.

2.  The smart professor who can’t teach

A smart guy, just not an effective professor.  Most of us have had him.  In many cases, he’s the kind of person who’d make a great conversationalist or a friend, but just can’t teach.  You sympathize with him and wish your classmates would give him more credit.  Or maybe you’re mean and just criticize him to no end, dismissing the class as a waste of your time.

3.  The smart professor who can teach

The perfect professor, you might say.  But there’s more to being a great professor than being smart and knowing how to teach, as we shall see later on.

4.  The smart professor who seemingly can teach but doesn’t know what teaching is really about

He’s clearly smart and he succeeds at getting ideas across, while maybe even engaging his students, but he’s not what a good professor should be:  someone who uses his smarts for good.  So yes, i think this type uses his smarts for evil.  He uses his class to show how smart he is instead of discovering how smart his students also are and learning from them, too, which is an essential part of teaching.  If this type also happens to be arrogant (which they often tend to be), he thinks his students are all dumb, but if he isn’t arrogant, he just doesn’t know what it means to be a teacher.  You might forgive him if he’s a Ph.D. student or a professor early in his career, but if you’re an idealistic student, it can be very hard.

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Nonverbal communication

So here’s the deal.  For our first field assignment in Nonverbal Communication class, everyone lined up against a wall and introduced themselves.  The professor taped us one by one from the chest up.  In the next class session, we watched the entire video with the audio off.  She (the professor) instructed us to write down the first thing we noticed in the denotative data column.  Just one thing, and use descriptive language.  

Now that the situation is set up, i’ll just paste a message i sent in frustration to a fellow classmate:

i think a lot of us (including you and me), took “write down the first thing you notice” as “write down the first thing that you pick up on when you watch the screen, whether the person has started talking or not, whether it’s a visual detail or a behavioral trait, whether it says anything about the person or not.” at least that’s how i interpreted it. so almost all of my observations had to do with appearance, not behavior. how can you extrapolate connotative data from an observation like, “mouth” (which only means that that particular person’s mouth was prominent in some way) or hair (which i noticed 5 times). everyone’s cheeks are raised when they smile, but some people’s left more of an impression, whether they moved differently or were placed a little lower or higher on their face. how can i use that kind of info to make a personality judgement? HOW?! (jake), i am going to explode right now!!! i talked to professor (steinberg) until 2:30 (god, she wouldn’t let me go; i eventually had to just get up cos my feet went to sleep from sitting uncomfortably on the floor), but she just didn’t get what i meant and i was growing more and more irritated that i had such a hard time controlling the tone of my voice. and (claire) was there too, but she didn’t help my case either. the professor kept trying to convince me to jump to irrational conclusions like long and dark hair means mysterious instead of considering that MAYBE I CAN’T THINK THAT WAY. that maybe i just can’t make judgements based on people’s appearances, especially over things they have no control over. sure, i can say what a particular kind of feature means to other people, but i can’t say what it means to me. GOD. i mean, one of the features i noted was how one guy’s glasses lenses were tinged with grey, which probably means that they were transition lenses. what the hell am i supposed to say about him as a person, using only that piece of data?

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Any thoughts?  How much of nonverbal communication is intentional, and if it is unintentional, is it still communication?

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