Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Different Kinds of University Professors

Hello again! I realize that I've been rather indisposed as of late, but I swear it's for a good reason. I've actually been having a tiny bit of a life! I went to Australia, saw some old friends, saw the sights, and generally had a grand ol' time. But now I'm back into the thick of things. Graduate school is breathing down the back of my neck yet again, and this time she means business. Grammar related business. This summer I have to take a couple required classes for my degree. The first one is labeled "The History of English Grammar"... or something equally as insufferable. Let's just say that I'm back to having absolutely no social life to speak of. Let the games begin!

So with an undergraduate degree under my belt, and half of a graduate degree completed, I've started to notice some slightly entertaining personality patterns in my professors. They seem to be pretty universal. Perhaps you'll recognize some of them...

The Lobotomy

Deadpan. Monotone. Emotionless. Totally disinterested in life. This professor displays a significant lack of any positive (or negative) qualities. The sound of their voice can be compared to the drone of a windmill... always consistent, and seemingly never-ending. A perfect cure for insomnia or any other sleep-depriving disorder. If you actually wish to take notes, a professional-grade stimulant is your best option. The positive side: this prof usually functions on routine, which is a predicable pattern that you can use to your advantage. This means his (or her) exam format will most likely never change. He (or she) usually has a team of T.A.'s that are far more useful than Dr. Lobotomy, and are well aware of the situation. Use them to your advantage. In true cases of this type, I've seen students LITERALLY TAKE THEIR SHIRTS OFF IN CLASS and the professor didn't even blink. Ask for some "sample exam questions." You'll probably end up with an exact copy of the final.

The Nervous Giggler

At first you thought you just missed the joke. Or maybe she's leading up to something really funny and she can't contain herself. But the punchline never comes. It just keeps getting more and more awkward. And you start glancing at your classmates out of of the corners of your eyes to see if they get it. But they're meeting your gaze and raising their eyebrows along with you. Why is this woman laughing? Well, because she's SUPER NERVOUS. She's probably not comfortable speaking in front of a class, or maybe her ex-boyfriend is enrolled and sitting behind you. Either way, everyone's uncomfortable. If you're lucky, she'll address the issue head on. She'll say something like, "hey guys, *snicker* this situation is making me laugh uncontrollably like a cracked-out out hyena and I can't stop. Let's take 5 minutes so I can compose myself." But chances are, she'll just keep going...

The Wise-Crack

This guy (it's usually a guy) thinks he's HILARIOUS. He was probably the funniest dude in high-school and was never able to let it go. So now he uses class time to test out his newest comedy routine. And when you awkwardly chuckle at his geometry jokes, it feeds his slightly-balding ego. Even worse: if you stop laughing at his jokes, he gets mean and punishes the class with surprise tests. So he's basically a crazy narcisist holding everyone hostage. Avoid, if possible. If you're lucky, he's got decent comedic timing and is legitimately funny. Which means that it's going to be an entertaining class. But that's usually not the case.

The Virgin

"Welcome to my class. It's my first time and I have no idea what I'm doing. Let's get into groups and talk about what that means to you." Sound familiar? This professor usually screws up a lot. There will be mistakes everywhere, and it's best that you just roll with it. You're his (or her) first time, and he (or she) wants to get it right. So the good side: they're probably going to be far more accommodating than other professors. Be kind to these guys, since you might see them again in future courses. But so help you jebus if you suggests alterations to their curriculum. That's their bible and has the emotional weight of their first-born. Just enjoy the (probably graded on a curve) ride.

The Negative Nancy
Wears a great deal of black. Likes to refer to "The Man" a lot. Usually teaches a Sociology-related or Fine Arts course. Hates everything. Nothing you will do in this class will be any good. Has 1000 reasons for why you suck and will fail at life on hand just in case you actually want to be productive in class. The positive side: this person is very predictable, and so easy to work with... if you know what to say. Repeat after me; "You're right- the post-industrialist society truly DID ruin our culture's collective artistic soul." NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, SMILE. Unless the professor makes a snide comment about the government. Then it is appropriate to smirk or scoff in agreement. 

The Russian
She is insanely over-qualified for the position and she knows it. She will make you suffer, simply because she suffered. It is her way. Don't take offense, use the opportunity to prove yourself. This teacher may be difficult to please, but if you can, she will be the most rewarding. She is probably the most connected in the academic world, and could be your key to success. She will be straightforward and brutally honest about everything. She will also have a working memory of every piece of related research to what you're talking about. She will probably answer most questions with "you have no idea what you're talking about. You're misinformed, and this is why (...)." Do not be discouraged by her abrupt and crude nature. She is probably the most legitimate learning experience you will have all year.

The Crypt Keeper

We've all seen this one. The Ancient. The guy who should have retired 10 years ago. But, with some miracle of science and nature, continues to teach. He's probably adorable and popular, which is why the University can't bring themselves to ask him to retire. He'll probably tell the same jokes every day and calls all the women "Cathrine." Take special care to never skip his class- you never know if it's his last day.

The Lab Rat

This professor has no business in teaching. They probably hate teaching, but have to in order to secure their research grant with the University for some obtuse analysis of the human condition. Their class will be painful and probably full of highly-specific and unrelated material, which is mysteriously parallel with their hypothesis about the effect of cocaine on rats. The only way to do well in this course is to pair up with someone who has the same interests as the teacher. Preferably a T.A. Avoid at all costs.

The Published
This is probably my favourite. This professor has published dozens of pieces of research along with multiple textbooks. They cite their own work in class and assign homework using readings from their own material. They will quote their own work in class as if it has been handed down from on high. They are probably the most eccentric people you will ever meet in your whole life. But don't over look them- they've been published for a reason. Buy their books and source them in your essays. You'll probably get an A if their name appears in your bibliography.

Well, I think that's enough for tonight. I'll upload proper pictures soon. Oyasumi!

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