The Gold Standard

20 Oct

The professor of my 2nd class isn’t all that great–at teaching undergrad courses.  Maybe she’s awesome with the grad students.  Maybe she’s an outstanding researcher.  In class–she has her issues.

Firstly, she straight up told our class (100+ undergrads in a required Junior-level core-class) that her priority was not teaching core classes–she had research deadlines that were a higher priority.  So not that stellar–even if it’s the truth or even if they’re thinking it.  The profs should at least pretend they want to be in class.  Because we don’t necessarily want to take a general core class either–but we are expected to show up, participate, and test well.  And if the instructor doesn’t like the class and doesn’t want to be there–why would we?

Secondly–the expectations, and syllabus are vague.  I’m talking it literally says September-ish exam 1, October exam 2. . .  No specific dates, no specific chapters/content.  And when the class asks when the exam will be, she literally says, “I don’t know, I can’t be tied down to dates.”  Not my favorite.  At all. It’s a schedule that demands cramming–which I don’t do well with, and on many days (ten hour work ones) don’t have time for.

Thirdly, the prof asks for participation but implicitly discourages it by talking over people, being judgmental, and lastly by saying, “What do you think?” when asked a question, instead of hinting at, giving, or offering a resource for the answer.  Which makes people afraid to raise their hand to offer an answer or even ask questions.

Finally, and annoyingly, her eye contact sucks.  She habitually teaches to the first row (in an auditorium) or ONLY looks at the boisterous people who participate a lot.  And if you do ask/answer a question or contribute to the discussion, she will teach specifically to that person–for the next half hour or so.  It’s awkward.

Here’s an example of an exchange between the prof and (unfortunately, it turns out) me:

Prof:  “I’m not sure where the 75% standard came from.  There is no research to back up a 75% mastery level–and 90% is the gold standard. I have no idea why that is becoming popular all of a sudden. . .”

Me:  After gingerly raising my hand and being called.  “Did the authors of the textbook maybe take the economy into account where they wrote 75% as the mastery level?”

Prof:  Annoyed (that she thinks I’m off topic and off track) “Morphemes have nothing to do with the parent’s income level–that’s language acquisition that is affected by Socioeconomic level.”

Me:  Trying to clarify what I meant while she is continually interrupting me and talking over, “But in public schools with a large case load and minimal resources maybe they have adjusted the standards?”

Prof:  “Do you [eyeing me as if I took school funding away and re-wrote the mastery levels in the textbook to justify graduating children at lower mastery levels to lower the case loads] think that’s right?  It is OK to take someone out of treatment when they still have an error a quarter of the time?!”

Me:  Trying to understand and relate to the reality of the situation, think and say, “Well, obviously 25% errors for that ONE individual are not optimal, but if by graduating that ONE person I was able to help a hundred more low kids become average, well. . .”

Prof:  [I suspect realizing that 90% and the gold standard may not be a reality because of funding,] says she thinks that sucks and we as a profession should aim higher–while still looking and talking to me as if I were behind (and in support of) the whole thing, just because I asked if that was the intent behind the textbook authors.  Then, every time standards or finances were discussed during the entire rest of the hour lecture–she would look back to me.

These are things that make life harder–for me.  And as you can see, I had no intention of challenging the prof and making her dislike me. . .

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