College Professors’ Iffy Pedagogy

Successful elementary, middle, or high school educators could teach a typical professor a shitload* about teaching excellence.


Because apart from a few more years of schooling, professors are like everyone else, meaning prone to insecurities, insecurities that often contribute to status anxiety about whether one is smart enough.

Consequently, on rare occasions that professors assemble to talk teaching, there’s often an odd, overly formal dynamic, devoid of authentic questions or humor. At faculty workshops where course syllabi are shared, the singleminded focus is on being more rigorous than the last person. “Well, you think your students are reading a lot of pages. . . ” “Well, you think your students are writing a lot. . . ” etc.

“How much,” no one ever dares ask, “can students realistically read closely and carefully?” When it comes to assigned reading in particular, there’s never any consideration of a point of diminishing return.” When I summarized this dilemma with my uber-smart, conscientious International Honors students in class recently, they laughed out loud at the naivety of faculty for thinking they’re reading everything that’s assigned. It was no different in 1984 when finishing up my history major, I had three history courses in a 10-week quarter, each with 7-8 books. I didn’t even buy all of them.

Rigor also means favoring academic texts over everything else, full stop, amen, forever and ever. Never mind the quality of long form journalism today; or the quality of wondrously diverse multimedia content; or heavens for bid, popular books.

*just trying to sound Presidential

3 thoughts on “College Professors’ Iffy Pedagogy

  1. When I was getting psychoanalytic training the first school I attended would ask us to read 300 pages a week and most weeks I would get it done but I remember very little of the dense of dense theoretical material, the second institute I atttended they assigned us 75 pages a week and I learned so much more. But the first place was known as more academically rigorous.

  2. I took those same hisotory classes at UCLA and I felt strapped by them. It interfered with me doing more extracurricular activities. Professors should recognize that college is suppose to be more than the academics. . 8 heard someone giving a first year college student some advice- “Dont let academics get in the way of your college experience. Join clubs, go to events, get engaged.” My cousin tells me the most important thing she did in college was work for the newspaper where she become editor-in-chief.

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