Professors who can't get things right

I signed up for Anatomy and Physiology this semester like an idiot. Taking Zoology last semester made me hate biology, even though I’m a major (Well, and a chem major)… My professor can’t pronounce things correctly, and often doesn’t differentiate between plural and singular.

For instance, I have never heard “canaliculus”, “lacuna” or “lamella” escape from his bloodhound-like jowls. Always the plural, regardless of whether or not it makes sense in the sentence. And the word “marrow” is pronounced MAR-raw, exactly like “mar” and “raw” put together.

And what’s better is the fact that my lab teacher just took the class the last time it was offered… last spring. She’s teaching us after just having taken it. She still uses her notes from that class to teach us! AAh!

Anyway, this was going to go in the pit, but I decided I’d keep it rated PG, so you guys can add your own teacher/professor incompetencies.

I had a history teacher in high school that was really and truly functionally illiterate. He was hired because he was a good basketball coach. Among 1000’s of other ridiculous mistakes, he pronounced Europe as YOUR-ROPE-EE.

Ugh. My chemistry teacher for the entire first year of my course was like this, it drove me mad. Luckily, I’d already done more chemistry than was required for my degree 9 years prior, or else I never would have made it through that class!

I really believe he’s a bright, capable chemist. It’s just that, when he gets up in front of a group of students to lecture, he gets nervous and fumbles about for words and often makes mistakes. Really significant ones, like verbally reversing the electron flow in oxidation/reduction half-reaction equations, whilst drawing them properly on the board, just to confuse the holy hell outta everyone.

The worst thing, though, was on one of the exams, we were asked to draw a specific organic molecule. This organic molecule contained one carbon atom with 5 bonds to it - a quinternary carbon - so it was impossible to draw. I had learned early on to proofread all his exams before beginning them, so I caught on to this problem within the first 5 minutes. I called him over and explained that this drawing was impossible. He said “Oh, yeah I see what you mean…” and called everyone’s attention to the problem, and said, “Draw this compound instead,” writing a new formula up on the board.

Except, he changed a functional group 2 spots away from the quinternary carbon, and didn’t change the fact that it was a quinternary carbon at all! So I pointed out the error again, and said that didn’t really fix it … and he said, “Oh yeah … good point”, and drew the original compound again!

slams head against desk

Three explanation-attempts later, he finally caught on and fixed the actual problem.

This is why I taught Organic Chemistry to the first-years this time around.

My prof for a public health class on AIDS insisted that HIV doesn’t kill the T-cells it inhabits. :rolleyes:

I had a professor for Engineering Thermodynamics who couldn’t work through the steam tables correctly to save his life. I think he had his grad students make up the tests. I had the same guy for a class called “Energy Conversion” which actually ended up being about…well, about pretty much nothing, actually. We had one presentation and one…um…test. An essay test. For an engineering class. Which we never got back. Somehow, I got a B out of the class. Very irritating.

I had a professor for Classical Controls who couldn’t solve differential equations or use the software (Matlab) that we were required to use to solve book problems. I ended up tutoring other students in an informal study group. I often corrected his solutions to the test. Got an A out of that one, at least.

I had a second semester Linear Circuits for Nonbelievers prof who would show up flat drunk when he showed up at all. It was actually better when he didn’t show up, as the TAs were far better at lecturing than he was.

While I was still in the Physics program, I had a couple of professors who were probably competent enough in their fields, but just couldn’t teach worth a damn. Ditto for math profs, particularly (and oddly) in the upper division/graduate level math courses. Partial Diffy Q was way more difficult than it had to be.

The usual number of apathetic, if not incompetent, high school instructors.

On the other hand, I had a lot of very bright profs who were reasonably competent at teaching. I used to think I’d have been better off if I’d been financially able to go to one of them high falutin schools that are better known by their initials, but from the stories of people I’ve worked with, that doesn’t really seem to be the case, so I guess I got a good value on my education.


Freshman English in high school, the supposedly advanced course. Taught by the most racist, sexist black man in history. This is the guy who managed to forget that freshmen are supposed to read Romeo and Juliet, since our later teachers will be expecting us to have. The guy that talked in all seriousness about when the dinosaurs and men lived together. The guy that showed the bloody Temptations movie as part of his lesson plan.

He had a stroke the year after my class had him. We liked to think we caused it. He’s back now though, and just as asinine as ever. Apparently he assigned the advanced kids a worksheet on manners. Been trying to get him fired, or at least removed from teaching the humanties students for the last four years. As you can tell, we haven’t had much luck.

I can’t remember the correct course name, but I had a class about the theories and history of education. The professor, god love him, pronounced the word “idea” as “ID.” You can imagine how many times that word is used in a educational theory class. It drove me absolutely up the wall.

My college biology prof, instead of covering evolution, showed us slides of Wedgewood china. Apparently, Wedgewood was some distant relative of Darwin. I guess he was supposed to cover Darwin or something and, in rebellion, went the tableware route. This was a public university, by the way.

Just tonight in my law class. My prof said she “condunced” a 700-page book into a 5 minute story which she just told us.

She also made a mistake the first week on what the requirements for a contract are. She never recognized the mistake, we had to figure it out when we did our readings. I don’t think I’m going to like this class.

I am engineer damn it, not a lawyer.

Had an Asian professor for my circuits class. I went around calculating the ‘Rumie’ square value for a week or so until I saw it in the book as ‘root mean square value’. He was pretty tough to understand in lecture and it seemed like he didn’t want to be there. His final was an absolute disaster. There weren’t enough desks for people to sit in and not enough tests for everyone. Not to mention there were only 2 TAs for 250+ people. The cheating on that test must have been absolutely rampant.

I took a College Algebra class. Math is not an easy subject for me, I had to work my way up to this level taking a basic and intermediate class first. I was determined to get through this because the degree I was going for required me to get as far as Calculus with Analytic Geometry.

Well, I got an instructor with tenure who basically didn’t give a shit. He didn’t teach us from the book he taught us from his head and he taught advanced calculus. When it became obvious this was not going to change, I switched to audit and stayed in the class hoping I might still be able to pick up a few things - I didn’t it was gibberish to me. There were only about three actual students left at the end of the semester, they were the math wizzes.

I heard he always taught like that, but nothing was ever done about his high drop out rate or bad student reviews because he had tenure. He finally retired about a year or two later.

Oh, boy, my profs are quirky this year!

One talks about “capilleraries” and seems to like adding an extra syllable to already-long-enough words for the heck of it.

One says “um”. A lot. Loudly, in a very resonant voice. So it’s like she’s yelling **UM ** at us every 15 seconds. “So, if you look at mitosis, UM, the chromosomes are UM lined up at the UM metaphase UM plate…” Hey, at least we all stay awake through that class.

One just emphasizes the wrong syllable (wrong meaning it’s not the same way I learned it before) of most chemical or enzyme names, and calls anthrax “onthrox”. It’s dizzying! By the time you’ve decoded what she must have meant by what she said, she’s moved on to something else.

They’re all excellent teachers, though. Just a little quirky.

I’ve had a couple experiences with obvious tenured on-the-retirement-track profs who obviously didn’t give a crap, but on average, they seem to know their stuff more than non-prof PhD’s or PhD students. Especially bio and chem, for some reason.

I’ve had PhD’s or PhD students in bio or chem tell me:

– The lowest possible pH is 1.
– Viruses are alive. End of debate.
– Cf = Co * 1/2[sup]Time/halflife[/sup] is not a valid alternative to
Cf = Co * e[sup]Time*stupidconstantludoviccan’tremember/halflife[/sup]. Can you guess why I preferred the first form on radiation questions?

C[sub]f[/sub] = C[sub]0[/sub]e[sup]-t(0.693/k)[/sup] … is that the one?

My toxicology teacher couldn’t keep that one straight either …

Last semester my psychology professor said “Right you guys?” after EVERY SENTENCE. To be fair, I liked her and she was quite knowledgable. Right you guys?

This semester my political science prof, when he gets excited, sounds just like the “free money from the government” guy, and he can’t seem to figure out Powerpoint (it’s an auditorium class). He’ll stop the presentation to show us a website or another program, and when he gets back to Powerpoint he has to start over and cycle through every slide we’ve already been though. Not that difficult, man…

Not anything bad, but in high school one of my teachers used words like peninchular for peninsula, Ha-wai-ah for Hawaii, and Miz-or-ah for Missouri. I went to high school in Miss’sipi, by the way. :slight_smile:

I had a history prof (history!) who always pronounced “Celtics” with a soft c. While discussing early peoples in Britian. Not when he was discussing basketball. Drove me up the wall.

I also went to Australia’s Murdoch University for a semester as an undergrad. A friend there (also a fellow Merkin) was taking some biology classes so she wouldn’t fall behind at home. She was way confused when the prof started talking about the skuh-leetle system. Took her a couple of classes to figure out he was saying “skeletal.” As in your skeletal system. Don’t know if that was just a pronunciation difference (two cultures divided by a common language and all that) or if the prof just pronounced it weird.