Back in my days as an undergraduate student, I remember just how much I disliked the way a lot of my professors talked to their students.
They would smirk at our comments. They would pause rudely when asked “silly questions.” They took themselves way too seriously.
Now, that is not to say that I didn’t have good experiences. Of course, I did.
But the bad ones exemplified just how disconnected some of the elite is from the public. If you smirk at us, what about the 30% who never attended post-secondary institutions?
Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. — G. K. Chesterton
I remember one experience at University in particular that still makes me uneasy.
It was one of the first weeks of the semester. I was attending a seminar and I was on the waitlist to enroll because the class was full, but I was still attending some early classes so that I could ensure that I was not missing anything important.
We were reading Thucydides, an Ancient Greek historian, considered to be the first empirical historians.
The Professor asked, “Jakub, why don’t you take a stab at pages 80–100. What did you find interesting?”
I looked at him and the participants and said, “Sorry, I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I will catch up soon.” I wasn’t even enrolled in the class. I wasn’t going to buy a $200 textbook just in the slim case that someone would drop out and make some room for me.
“Students, please don’t show up to class if you don’t do the assigned readings.”
This type of attitude isn’t really conducive toward learning, improving, or real engagement with the literature.
It promotes a culture of fear, stress, and anxiety. It prevented me from enjoying the class. I dreaded it actually. And I still hold it against the Professor.