Academic Archetypes: Have you had one of these (and what others have you had)?

I just had one of those professors last semester! She was a good teacher, but figuring out what she wanted was not easy. But she wasn’t as hated as…

The Passion Professor

This profressor has based their class on something they care a great deal about, whether it’s art, web design or economics. In fact, they care so much about the topic, they know there’s no way it can possibly be covered in one semester. But rather than create a two class sequence that would be better for all, something happens either just before or just after the halfway point…

You have to teach a huge chunk of the topic to yourself. And its a huge part of the rest of the class.

I’ll never forget the Web Design profressor who expected us to completely learn Javascript without touching on it in class (even though it was on the schedule for class discussion) and then expecting to see it implemented in a website due two days later.

It was also strongly “suggested” that learning PHP would make the final group project much better. Thankfully someone in my group already knew it.

Idiot Mathematician - completely (willfully?) unable to teach even the simplest of concepts, cannot possibly understand why students don’t get it “first time”, assigning their inability to a lack of intelligence rather than their own rubbish teaching.

I had one of these. He’s Chinese and the course was VIETNAM. “Sayda keh warrin tastabi juju bay tahs” translated as “JFK wanted to establish rural bases” and after the first few weeks we were all just sick of having to CONSTANTLY ask him to repeat himself. He was clearly a great admirer of Ho Chi Minh as well- half of our readings were about him (not just as political/military leader but Uncle Ho’s thoughts on life, the universe and everything, biographies of him, etc.). Once we were watching a film (we watched many) that had anti-American protesters in Vietnam carrying signs (in Vietnamese) and yelling and Dr. “Cho” started laughing out loud. When asked what the sign said he hemmed and said “Oh… I am no sure.”

I had this one too (as well as most of these). She had previously been a lit professor (emphasis in women’s lit and at Berkeley of all cases), made no secret of the fact she felt she was slumming in Alabama, nwo taught a library science class on cataloging (she had become a librarian), was an ardent and self-identified post-modernist and had us keep a journal in which we wrote our thoughts and reflections on, of all things, library cataloging. I’m not known for being a man of few words, particularly in writing, but I could barely fill 10 pages and that was with some serious serious serious padding. (“Gee… uh… metadata… what a card that is… love it… it’s no CyberDewey, but it’s… metadata comes from greek words- those were some gorgeous columns they had”). She gave mine back, along with those of several others, claiming we hadn’t put enough thought into our opinions and reflections.
I DON’T HAVE THOUGHTS, OPINIONS, AND REFLECTIONS ON CATALOGING! I don’t particularly want want to meet anybody who does. That’s rather like asking you to keep a journal of your opinions and reflections on mathematical theorems- it doesn’t greatly matter whether I like this theorem or not, I need to learn it and it ain’t gonna change. Give me a frikking assignment where I have to catalog a handwritten note or a privately published book and I’ll look up the rules and I’ll do it, but I’m not going to write an ode to the process.
When asked “What exactly do you want?” she would respond “Something that’s not this” or “Your honest thoughts”. My honest thought was “this bitch is crazy”. I pulled an A out of the class, but the last time she gave me back my journal (we had to turn it in 3 times) she had written on it something to the effect of “This is still not what I’m looking for. I’m giving you credit only because you’ve done the cataloging and other assignments well and I don’t want to see this pull you down a letter grade.” (About 10% of the class loved her, 30% were neutral and the rest of us LOATHED her- she had such a high opinion of herself and acted as if she were in Alabama as a missionary to enlighten the natives; instead she was the only person who ever made me want to come to class with a rebel flag tattoo and a mullet and light a cigarette off the cross in the lobby.)

I had this professor! Actually, mine was German (East) and I’m blanking on his name but it was the equivalent of German von Germansteinhauserdorf – students often confused his incredibly stereotypical German first and last names with some other incredibly stereotypical German first and last names, and he never noticed or corrected anyone. I’m slightly freaked out that you described his handouts perfectly, down to the bizarro clip art. And of course the insanely difficult exam, which I still suspect was actually an exam for a graduate course offered in the same department, because it had NO relationship to any of the material covered in lecture or in the readings.

Another archetype:
The Tangental Egoist
This one starts off okay, the class begins with the topic indicated on the syllabus, say for example “the Monarchy in Spain” and then five minutes into it, the prof starts with an amusing little anecdote about he was at a fundraiser with King Juan Carlos, and Juan Carlos said the funniest thing, which doesn’t translate very well to English, but in Spanish it’s hilarious and reminded him of the time from his grad student days when he was following Hemingway (except he calls him “Papa” and then feigns contrition when someone in the class asks who Papa is, but meanwhile back in reality he would die a little inside if the class failed to take the bait) around Spain and he was at this bullfight … It can all seem well and good and even somewhat amusing until the end of the semester when you realize you are completely ill-prepared to take the next level course in the department.

This was one of the math professors at my college. Fortunately, I was nowhere near the level that had his classes. He was an absolutely brilliant mathematician (very accomplished chess player and violinist as well), but his accent (he was Israeli) was simply impenetrable. To top it off, his main TA was my old freshman roommate, who mumbled so badly that he may as well have been speaking another language (I once had to get him to repeat his answer 4 times to a yes/no question). I wept for those students.

I had a Crazy Ivan, but I can’t legitimately complain about him. He was a no-nonsense, no-excuses type who had some great stories. Having survived the starvation of Leningrad, he also had some interesting things to say about coming to America in the 70’s and seeing college students having a food fight.

I heard of a physics professor who had an “eraser bitch.” He’d fill up all 4 of the chalkboards with equations and notes, and when they were full, he’d call on said person (probably one of his grad students) to erase them so he could write more.

Perhaps a cousin to “Fast Eddie”, I had a professor that would prepare slides (on transparencies, not Powerpoint) absolutely filled with text. We’re talking paragraphs here. He’d read through them, then put the next one on before students had written even a third of it down. I realized that most of the text was verbatim from the textbook, so I started bringing it to class with me and highlighting what he’d put on the overheads.

I had a TA somewhat like “Crazy Ivan” but he was actually very willing to help out students. He seemed pretty happy all the time. Somewhere along the line he must have heard the phrase “what we’re going to do is. . .” because he’d use that phrase at least 10 times a lab session when describing what the lab would be like.

Hmm, let me see if I can contribute. Well, there’s always the typical professor haircut. Usually in the sciences with long hair and a ex-hippie now professor wardrobe. But I gotta say VCO3 that the “this is a 101 but…” professor kind of has a point. College shouldn’t be easy, and even if you are majoring in a completely different discipline, I am really happy that I had a few tough 101 classes. There’s a reason for that. It’s so we can get a good education. College is really just a gateway to a good job nowadays, but originally it was expected that you liked learning things. But my 101s in Senior year were always tough. I expected my 300 levels to be easier, and they usually were in terms of homework, etc.

well I have a good one here:

Professor I make things more difficult sounding than they are

This was my macro econ teacher. Near the beginning of class, he made a huge point that the true nature of understanding was that you could explain your point to someone who had no previous idea of the subject. He also went in detail about how he required simple explanations for things that made sense. So in my first test, I tried to explain economics in very simple terms, so an idiot could understand them. “The demand curve shifts because if fewer people are interested in buy something, then blah blah blah, etc, and that’s why that happens” I did poorly on the test. The second test I did a mixture of that and a basic approach. What happens when you impose a minimum wage? “Demand curve shifts this way, Supply curve shifts that way, etc…so the price rises to p2” I didn’t say “The intersection of S2 and D2 is the point at which both parties find it in in their interest to make the deal, which means this is the price at which business will take place” I did a lot better and in the end I did only the basic approach, and I may have missed 2 questions in the rest of the entire class. Now had he given an example of the kind of thing he was looking for then that would be much easier. I think he may have mentioned it, but after I started doing well I didn’t really pay attention.

Professor Ornery Dutchman This is probably not an archetype, but he possessed the reputed Northern European trait of not sugar-coating his opinions about other peoples ideas or work. But in the end we all kinda loved him. He would cut you down and use mild curse words, but he was an excellent lecturer and didn’t take the bullshit spat out by the self-important, egghead, would-be teacher pet. You know they type, the only speak to bring up some totally irrelevant point that nobody actually cares about only to get a “interesting point, that” pat on the back from the prof. He also had the ability to say, what we all really thought. His incivility in social situations was kinda admired by us. I remember in this lecture in a big auditorium, the speaker (pretty distinguished, I believe) was saying something, and all of a sudden we hear “LOUDER!” from the back. Yeah, that was Prof. Ornery Dutchman. I got chewed out by him in Amsterdam and Belgium for being too wild (on a trip), but we were still friends.

Professor Entertains too many stupid ideas
Unfortunately I ran into that way to often here in my Masters program. My program was based, to a large extent on class participation. I’ve always hated that in a big way most of the time because it’s usually filled with people whose opinions I don’t give a shit about. I know you aren’t a good student, so I don’t really care what you say. Discussion is great, don’t get me wrong, but devoting a large part of class to a discussion with someone of a differing opinion than a noted expert isn’t interesting to me. Yeah you may have a point, and its fun to discuss, but really, I don’t care what you think.

Come to think of it, I’ll start a thread on students.

I have one this quarter that’s a combo between What do you mean, “101?”, and The Space Case. Thing is, I actually really like her and her lectures, but man, am I dreading this rigorous 15 page paper on whatever she wants that she’s not communicating.

Professor Counting the days until I get full pension

He’s reasonably enthusiastic about teaching the course. Well, usually. He’s just not interested in putting any effort in away from class. So his lectures are a confusing, disorganized mash of monologues with the occasional word and diagram on the board. If you’re really lucky, he’ll have a set of slides. Of course, the slides will have been done by another professor from another university for a (hopefully related) course, and all of the material may or may not be relevant. Have fun on your open-book exam, where you have to dig through 100 pages of slides looking for that crucial piece of information that will allow you to answer the question!

Professor Buy my book

Does he really need an introduction? Nothing like have a captive audience of 300 students, all of whom have to pass your course to get their degree. To ensure they all pony up, make sure to base all assignments and exams off of specific examples and exercises from your text. Oh, and don’t forget to tell your students to please ignore the sections labelled "To Be Completed.

Oh no… were her initials D.S., by any chance?

No, but she is in Florida now. :wink:

She sounds exactly like a BIATCH I had my first semester in my SLIS program. About 30 people started in the introductory class, and 11 were still around to take the final exam since she drove so many of them off. Most of her advice on writing assignments was “Do what a competent graduate student in your position would do,” which meant most of our papers and projects required a good deal of mind-reading. I feel like I didn’t learn a thing in her class, and to top it all off, she didn’t give a single “A” – I finished her class with a “B+”, which was amazing considering how many people ended up on academic probation or leaving the program entirely, but it pisses me off to this day since I deserved an “A” for the quality of my writing. She also has a degree from Berkeley and has apparently alienated some faculty members (in addition to every student she ever had) because she acts like she’s too good for our school. With any luck, they’ll ask her to move on. She really is a blight.

This reminds me of…

Dr. "No One in College Deserves an A"

This profressor believes that they, and they alone, are the only ones that have complete mastery of a subject (their definition of an A), so how can they give an A to a mere student. It’s obvious they don’t know this obscure piece of knowledge (even though it’s beyond the scope of the class). Oh, and this paper isn’t quite as good as it could be, but only someone who is able to teach the material can come up with a compelling enough argument to earn an A… blah, blah blah.

Man, that sounds just like her (especially the “do what a competent grad student” would do non-advice). This woman’s initials are MG, though.

I think we have a miscommunication here - by 101’s, I’m referring to freshman-level “survey of ___”-type classes. They should by definition not be intensive, high-workload, research-heavy courses, because their entire point is to be an overview or introduction to whatever subject they’re on. When I have to do a 30-page intensive research paper on Jungian archetypes as manifested in Bertolt Brecht’s American period and was expected to have read entire 400+ page books of theory between (tri-weekly) meetings of **What do you mean, “101?” **'s two-credit "Introduction to Theatre"class, something has gone horribly amiss.

I got him for Orgo. He’d been in the US for 12 years and still could not speak English. Since I actually knew more Orgo than he did, I got to learn some Introductory Chinese Grammar (just wish I knew which particular dialect).

The Lullaby
Lectures in a monotone, photocopies of the slides given on the first day of class, what you actually have to study is the book. One hour a day spent napping at your desk.
Alternatively, the Alarm Clock: related to the previous one, but he actually finds it offensive that students fall asleep. So occasionally he’ll yell, waking everybody up. I got this one for Religion in High School, he’d go all fire-and-brimstone for about half a sentence as soon as he noticed he was seeing all crowns and no faces.

Another detail on the Monothematic Professor:
Any kind of lecture that he has to grade for “general interest” will get a 5 if it’s touched upon The Topic, a 0 if not. Better manage to stick at least one electrochemical diagram in your presentation about sugar chemistry: it doesn’t matter if it’s a diagram of the electrochemistry of manganese, it will get you a “5 on interest” from Electroman.

Colors! Pwetty colors!
Most common in females. I wish I’d known this in school, because my grades would have been more faaaaaaaabulous than the Drag Queen of the Tenerife Mardi Gras, lemme tell you.
The poster / report / presentation /whatever is clear, concise, to the point, complete… but they say “bad presentation” or “incomplete.” They cannot explain why it’s incomplete; they just know it is.
Add some pink to it et voilá, your grade just shot from a C to an A+!

I really wish I’d understood sooner why a poster on WWII should have a border of hand-drawn violets.

Since I’ve had the color people elsewhere, let me share some Power Point tips…

If you’re presenting for accountants, you only want any color in your pie and bar charts. Charts should be pie or bar, no line charts. Everything else, black and white. NO red at all.

Engineery, artisan, techy types: primary colors. White backgrounds, drop the MS themes if your company allows it. Embrace your red, navy and green. They like line charts better than bars. Pie charts are ok, but make sure you separate at least one slice from the rest of the pie.

Non-tech females (CSRs for example): pastels. Get one of those MS themes where the whole background is peach.

Agressive salesmen: Blue background, lots of red lettering.

I had this guy ! He was supposed to guide me and a fellow student with our paper, but he didn’t even know who we were. When we handed the paper in, he literally flipped through it (took him 30 seconds) and said: " 7 (out of 10)" . The other student asked: “why not a 9? We worked really hard on it” . Well, at that point the professor could either start arguing about the merits of a paper he had not read, and had not intention of reading, or he could give us the 9. So he mumbled something and gave us a 9.
He also had just one suit, and that one was permanently covered in dandruff.

I’ve had a couple of these. One prof was a variant of Prof. Mono-Topic and Prof. Obsessed with P.C.: She was an interesting and mostly reasonable prof, but God forbid someone have a different opinion on one of her favored political topics. I remember one lecture on “the pros and cons of affirmative action.” Except that everyone know she was ardently pro, and was liable to flip out on any student who suggested otherwise. I suggested that a possible con was that A.A. might indirectly perpetuate the unfair perception that minorities can’t succeed without extra help. Seemed to me like a pretty mild objection, unlikely to offend. She replied that “only a racist would think that way” and moved on. :rolleyes:

Another prof was a variant on Prof. Space Case. A big component of his class was giving presentations, and critiquing the presentations given by others. Only, no negative feedback was allowed, ever. We mustn’t puncture the poor, fragile egos of the other 22-year-olds in the class. One time in particular, a group gave an absolutely hideous PowerPoint presentation-- multiple paragraphs of 8-pt. text crammed onto each slide, intrusive graphics, pink text on a lime green background. My criticism was blunt but (I thought) fair, explaining why their design choices were distracting and suggesting alternatives. It was handed back with a failing grade, and the prof demanded that I redo the assignment, “but only talk about the positives this time.” I refused. Still passed the class though.

Must they all be professors? How about the:
Too-Chummy-With-His-Students TA**

He wants to know where the parties are. He wants to grab a bite/cup of coffee after class. He’ll give you passes on homework, test answers, etc. as long as you’ll be his friend. You’ll enjoy the easy class, but you’ll feel dirty for feeding into his desperation.