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Ever have a truly great professor?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by JLaff, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. JLaff

    JLaff Guest

    I'm sitting here, back in junior college hell. I transferred to a university a couple years ago, but switched my major and have to take a prerequisite course. Figured I'd save money and time and take it at a local JC over the summer.

    My god, I don't think I've had any professors worse than the two I have now (it's a lecture/lab combination). It got me to thinking of all the good professors I've had in my 4+ years as a college student, and I was wondering if any of you would care to talk about one who really got to you.

    First one that came to mind was the first English prof I had. Told us on the first day, "I get paid whether you show up or not, so it's up to you to learn." That really struck me, since so many instructors try to convince you that they're there to help and will do whatever they can. We read one book that semester - Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried (HIGHLY recommended read) - and analyzed the hell out of it. He was straightforward and wasn't afraid to tell you if your work sucked, but was always there for you if you really wanted to improve.

    I was thinking about that prof when six students who registered for this class I'm taking now didn't show up. People were coming in 20-30 minutes late on the first day. I just kept thinking, "are you serious?"

    So, has anyone had a memorable professor, good or bad?
     
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    yeah. Taught a world history class I showed up for about half the time because it was 8 a.m. Monday and Wednedsay. Loved the class hated the time.
    Took him in another class the next semester -- he's calling the first roll gets to my name and says "Slappy, you gonna show up for this class?"
    I replied, "is it at 8 a.m.?"
    "No, it's at 1 p.m."
    Then I'll be there.
    Used me as a whipping boy all semester; it was unsaid, but I knew he was fucking with me. Great motivational teacher, challenging. He'd tell you to read 50 pages and there would be a quiz; the quiz would be on the obscure to make you pay attention.
    Final exam comes, he tells everyone that if it took less than 1:45 to finish, he'd fail you. I finish in 1:20, hand in my test. He eyeballs it and says "looks good. You failed." and writes a big F on it.
    I said Cool, see you next semester and walked out.
    Buddy of mine finds me later that day and started beating on me. "You motherfucker! After you walked out, everyone was pretty much done, but since he gave you an F we all sat there checking and rechecking. At 1:45 mark he turned and said, "Oh, Slappy's going to get an A in this class. Hope that bit didn't cause you any stress."

    oh, and I had Hugh Fullerton's son as a journalism prof...
     
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe if you didn't let your college professors call you slappy, things would have turned out a bit better for you.
     
  4. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Several.
    And I hope to be one myself. We'll see.
     
  5. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    I had some great ones, most of whom were at my JC. I had some good ones when I transferred, but the memorable ones, the ones who taught me stuff that I still remember, and the ones who would let me crash on the couch in their office and listen to me while I vented, were at my JC.
     
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I think that might indeed be where my life took that wrong turn
     
  7. inkfingers

    inkfingers Member

    Had a journalism professor in college who had been a city editor at a major daily for more than 20 years before turning to teaching. A real old-school bulldog. Even had an old AP ticker tape machine running his classroom. Used to run the classroom like he was the editor, his students the reporters. Critiqued what you wrote very publicly, without mincing words. Called all the students by their last names. I still, 20 years later, draw from some of the lessons he taught about the newspaper business. He's probably the main reason I got into the biz ... hey, maybe he wasn't so great after all. ::)
     
  8. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    I encountered a couple of them, with mixed results.

    We had one professor who was considered the national expert in a particular area of study. He literally wrote the textbook. The upperclassmen raved about him. Both classes he taught on the subject were packed every single semester.

    Unfortunately, it was a huge lecture class and it bored the hell out of me. I just couldn't see what the fuss was about. The guy obviously knew his stuff and sometimes he was genuinely funny and interesting. But mostly, it was just a lot of long lectures with no real effort to engage the students, just like most big lecture classes. I left thinking that the guy may be an expert in his field, but he wasn't much of a teacher. That was probably unfair on my part. That's how every large lecture class I took was. But

    My senior year, I saw that he was teaching a class on counter-culture. I remembered he had told us all that if we ever see it on the schedule, we should grab it. It turns out, this was the class he truly loved to teach, not the one where he had made his name. It was a small group and you could tell from day one even a half-assed effort would get an A. He really just wanted to teach us a different way of looking at things. Great class.

    The best instructor I had in college wasn't actually a professor. He was an investivative reporter at a local paper who taught one or two classes each semester. A few board members will know exactly who I'm talking about if they read this. He spent a great deal of time just telling stories about his own work in journalism, but he also looked at our work and kicked us in the ass to be better.

    He insisted on having us turn in every single story we wrote for the college paper that semester and I wrote a lot. He constantly gave me a hard time about making him work so much, but he read every story and gave me great feedback on all of them. He is still one of my favorite people in the business.
     
  9. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    One professor I had whom I really took a lot from was a professor who taught a class called Editing and Document Design at the University of Maryland. She spent a lot of time discussing editorial style, including composing a style sheet based on a magazine story. There were a lot of editorial lessons she taught in the class that have informed how I edit to this day.

    She had sections of her workbook in which she printed really funny typos. At various points in class, she'd tell us to turn to a page in the workbook and she'd read them. We'd all laugh.

    As for the design portion of the class, certain design principles she taught, such as the optical center and the rule of thirds, I was able to discuss in a desktop publishing class for which I served as a teaching assistant. Her lessons about design also inform the way I design pages, and have ever since I took the class.

    I ended up getting a "C" in the class, but it was arguably the most important class I ever took in my academic career. The fact I was a "C" student in the class made one particular class session especially striking. She asked me to explain a concept to the class because of my background as a TA and as a college journalist.

    If you ever wanted proof that grades by themselves are hideously overrated, to me, this class is Exhibit A.
     
  10. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    Had a journalism professor in college that would pull me aside after class and critque my latest column in the campus newspaper. We talked a lot about business, management (it was a media management course) and writing. My self-esteem wasn't great, he was the guy who really pushed me and told me I could become a pretty good reporter/writer. He helped boost my career as much as anyone. I wish I'd have taken his advice, too, and held out for better jobs instead of bowing to my parents' pressure and taking the first job that came along.

    On the other side, had a math professor who was from India, and his lectures consisted of 75 minutes of drawing squiggly lines on the board, muttering while he did it, and every 10 or 15 minutes, turning around and going "do you understand?," and the entire lecture hall shaking their heads no. "OK," and then he'd bang on the board for another 10 or 15 minutes. I still don't understand a thing about calculus. He graded on a curve. I got a 36% in the class and still got a C.
     
  11. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Uncle Rick Musser at the University of Kansas was the greatest teacher/professor I ever had in any subject. I nearly gave up my major after a month in his Reporting II class because he just ripped the living shit out of the first two stories I did. Got a D and a D-minus. It kept me up all night once. I finally stopped wallowing in my pity and studied the two stories I wrote and his comments.

    He wrote in big bold letters, "CHRIST, YOU ARE SLOPPY" for one story in which I misspelled a last name of a campus doctor. I quickly relized, "He's right. I am sloppy." I told myself I would write one more story and go from there. I got a B-plus on it, and his comments included, "So you CAN write!" When he handed it back to me, he gave me a playful punch on my arm and a smile.

    Uncle Rick toughened me up, and not to brag, but he later told me I was the best sports writer on staff one semester. To me, it was the greatest compliment of my life. I will never be able to fully express how much Uncle Rick did for me as a journalist.
     
  12. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    No, most of my college professors were ivory-tower idiots.

    My dad was an honors journalism graduate (3.9+) who had worked 25+ years in the industry, and my mom served as a writer/editor for a decade herself. I knew more about journalism by the time I was 10 years old than most of those clowns.
     
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