Friday, September 26, 2008

Top 10 Things I Have Learned as a Professor-Student

This is now my 5th consecutive semester of taking an undergraduate language course. I have learned a lot from the course about the target language, but I have also learned (or relearned) some important things about being a student.

Top 10 things I have learned by being a student (again):

10. how strange it is to get constant emails from companies and organizations that want to sell me term papers, notes, books, or recordings so that I will get high grades without working hard or attending class;

9. how important it is that the course syllabus be followed; or, if changes are made, that these are clearly explained;

8. how much I dislike getting motivational stickers on my homework assignments;

7. how much I like sitting in the same seat in the classroom each day;

6. how difficult it is to have many hours of homework for one class due in a short amount of time;

5. how fun it can be to be part of a small group of nice people working together on something;

4. how stressful it is to take exams, especially impossible ones;

3. what it feels like to not want to be called on in class;

2. how good it feels to be learning something completely new;

1. I am old.

19 comments:

PhysioProf said...

You got fucking balls to take a course and sit for exams. I have taken so many motherfucking exams in my life, and ten years after the last exam I ever took, I still have fucked up dreams of showing up for an exam and being all like, "Whoah, I forgot to attend this course and now I have to take the exam". I hope to never study for or take an exam for the rest of my fucking life!

sarcozona said...

I wish more professors took an undergrad class every once in awhile!

geomom said...

#7 same seat--so odd, yet so important! I see it happen in standing meetings as well. Same people, same room, same seats every week :-)

Anonymous said...

"Whoah, I forgot to attend this course and now I have to take the exam"

I still have that dream, too. Sometimes it's so vivid that I actually think it happened. My version is that I look at my registration card, and realize that I'm actually signed up for a class I've never been to, and for which I have done nothing. It's usually a math class, with lots of homework and where I really don't understand it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason the dream is so vivid is that there are some classes I took (and that appear on my transcript) that I've forgotten so thoroughly that I'm kind of wondering if I really did forget to to go to the class.

Cool taking a class and exams. I do think teachers would benefit from doing this periodically. It should be part of the sabbatical experience -- taking a *real* class every seven years ago. Seeing things from the other perspective (the syllabus thing always gets me -- I think it's nutty for students to consider it a contract. But, maybe I'd feel differently if I was on the other side).

Female Science Professor said...

I'm fine with syllabus changes as long as there is some notice -- e.g. if the date of an exam is changed, it's good to know a week in advance instead of a day.

Anonymous said...

#7- that's how I met my husband bizarrely enough. We were in the same paper, I always moved around but I noticed he was a chronic same seat sitter (naturally near the front!). So I deliberately sat in his seat a couple of times to see what he'd do; he was too polite to say "you pinched my seat!!", but we got chatting and the rest is history.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I have a difficult decision coming up - take my Canadian citizenship test, or stick to my promise to myself NEVER to take ANY exam or test EVER AGAIN.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best things a Professor can do for their students, in my opinion. Take up a new skill that you are an utter novice at. There is no other way to remind yourself of what it is like to be a true beginner at something.

yolio said...

To anon 11:23:

I totally consider the syllabus a contract. Look, add/drop comes and goes early in the quarter, the students need something that lets them know what exactly they have committed to. Otherwise it feels like they are hostage to your ever-changing whims. This tends to encourage feelings of resistance---which is undesirable in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

"Otherwise it feels like they are hostage to your ever-changing whims. "

See, I always thought that they signed on to hear whatever wisdom I had to impart, within the vague and general guideline of the course description :-).

GirlPostdoc said...

That's awesome that you're taking an undergraduate course but how in the heck do you find the time??!!!
http://www.girlpostdoc.blogspot.com/

finchwench said...

So do you pay per credit? Or is it a "perk" of being faculty?

Deanna said...

Wow. It's a relief that other people still have that dream. I haven't taken a university course in 14 years, and I still get that dream.

franglais said...

I am still tense and nervous GIVING exams!!

Comrade PhysioProf said...

It's a relief that other people still have that dream.

I have never met anyone who has a post-baccalaureate degree who doesn't have that dream. Sometimes I show up for the exam not only having mastered NONE of the material of the course, but totally fucking NAKED!

a physicist said...

I occasionally have the dream that I'm taking an exam in a math class that I've forgotten to attend. But my more typical dream is that it's the third or fourth week in a semester, and I just realized that I've forgotten to show up and teach a class. And I don't remember what room the class is in, etc.

Kaija said...

I did this same thing when I was teaching math/physics and trying to bolster my life science background...I took Organic Chem I and II at my school, from a colleague, with some of the same students who were in my Calculus II and II courses. It was a great experience!

I got to see my colleague in action, in the classroom, and saw him in a different way than in faculty meetings and cocktail parties (and learned some things I incorporated into my classes as well!). I also got to remember the feeling of being overwhelmed, worrying about homework and exams, but also got to know my students in a different light and vice versa. We ended up forming a casual study group, helping each other with orgo while I also helped them with their calc. Took some "letting go" and breaking down some of the professor/student walls, but it was very positive!

flit said...

You still get stickers?! I am SO jealous!

I don't get no stinking stickers... or glow in the dark ones, either.

Candid Engineer said...

There is nothing in my life that has ever caused me the kind of anxiety and general unhappiness that I have felt over exams. Oh, how I hated them. I always did well, but they caused me so much grief.

I don't know if I could subject myself to them again- I'd want to take the language course as Pass/Fail, and then I wouldn't care if I got a B or C on the exam.