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dinner out

I ran into one of my professors at a restaurant last night. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this enough, but here are the things I'm afraid of:

1) Heights
2) Lawnmowers
3) Anyone with a PhD.

So when I walked in and put our name down I wasn't sure it was him and for some reason didn't wave, although I thought he was looking at me. Then marc and I were seated on the other side of this wall, and I was feeling all neurotic about it because he'd seen me and I hadn't said hi, blah blah blah.

This is my morning class professor I ran into, and he's one of the scariest types, because he comes off as a nice person who cares about his students and feels optimistic about our potential. I've had teachers who were total jerks and if I saw them out on the town I'd totally wave right off the bat just to screw with them, maybe get through to some human side, who knows. If a teacher makes his students feel like they're all inferior to him, you can't do much more to hurt that, might as well do your best. But the other kind of teacher, the one who sprinkles "And if you're more interested in this topic I have a really interesting paper I can give you!" into every lecture, you just feel bad. Like you're acting that you're on his side, always understanding, always paying attention in class, and you're living a lie. Soon he will figure out that you're not smart and instead of just writing you off, he'll try to do what he can to help you out and the cycle will only get worse. He's assigned these semester projects to everyone and wants to know how they're going and I haven't told him anything, because I'm not making the kind of progress I'd want to talk about. I am working hard but it's a lot of wrong directions, it's sort of a mess, I don't want to admit that.

So eventually I saw him paying his bill at the front counter and walked by and said "Professor!" (even though I totally know his name, I don't know why I didn't say it, he probably thinks I can't pronounce it now) and he seemed very happy to see me and introduced me to his family and I was all freaking out about what to say and how to not sound stupid or too loud or spastic. Then I rushed off way too quickly.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 8th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
People with Phds scare me too.
Apr. 9th, 2007 11:06 am (UTC)
Either your lecturers in engineering are much more up their own arses than mine ever were in physics, or else you're not giving them a chance. How is a lecturer who does what he can to help you out (which after all ought to be his job) making "the cycle...only get worse"? And if you're working hard in a lot of wrong directions, that's like the best reason in the world to go talk to the guy!

Sure, there are unhelpful lecturers out there who might take asking for help as a "sign of weakness" or something similarly stupid and macho, but it sounds like this guy is one of the good ones, who actually cares. I mean, from what you say, he's practically begging for someone, anyone, to step up and be educated instead of merely lectured at - I really don't see what you have to lose.

In my experience, "good" lecturers (by which I mean those who care about their students' understanding) are far happier with students who come up to them and say, "hey, I don't get this," even at the supposed risk of no longer looking "smart," than they are with students who come to lectures and give every appearance of understanding, but then underperform on exams. The guy in my group who takes his teaching most seriously rails at the latter type of students almost constantly, it's like his biggest pet peeve (after administrative crap of course). Like anything else in the world, lecturers can't help you if they don't know you need help.

PS: when I finish my PhD will you be scared of me?
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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