The Spectrum Listens: What Professors need to Hear

THE SPECTRUM | ERIK JONASSON II
Student’s respond by opening up about what they wish professors would hear.

What do you want to say to your professor that you can’t? A simple question with serious connotations, especially with finals just around the corner. Many see professors as untouchable beings, to be feared in certain cases.

The Spectrum’s new column, The Spectrum Listens, is an opportunity for students to voice their opinions and feelings about a particular question or statement.

So, what do student’s wish their professors could hear granted anonymity? I set up a booth in the Union and waited for the responses to flood in. I of course witnessed the unavoidable social rejection, that was to be expected. However, I found plenty of people willing to discuss their unique personal situations.

One student, a Biology major, told me that he feels comfortable being critical of a professor to their face. Willing and able to bring up past instruction of a course and offer suggestions to changing the course however he sees fit.

A business major critiqued a 300 level English class, saying that most classes outside of his major were pointless and didn’t actually prepare students to think critically, he then told me in rather out of breath fashion, that he had just told that all to his English professor.

I got statements on the board that were similar, for instance I got, “This class is pointless.”

Others, couldn’t do this if life depended on it. The stress of confronting the person who puts a letter down that determines your whole life it seems is a task not for the faint of heart. Some people would rather open up to a whiteboard than spew opinions into a professional’s face.

Others opened up more about their personal situations.

“I’m not into my major.”

That particular student told me that she was looking to just finish her degree in education and then go on to graduate school for something else. Noting that after working through the degree, she doesn’t like the idea of teaching kids.

Critical responses were written as well. With some students being rather blunt about their classes. One student told me that he was hoping one of his professors got fired.

Other replies like, ‘Dude why’, ‘Please do better!’ but that isn’t all that I got.

I got, “What the fuck is going on?” I got, “teach me something.”

It may be easy to give a professor a compliment, but it is a completely different experience to give a critique. Some asked to change the structure of a class, others asked for less readings and exams. Others still wanted more flexibility and understanding that school wasn’t the only aspect of their life.

Some asked what life may have been in post-World War II Germany, where that professor grew up. How did they teach you about Nazis?

Professors are obviously not all bad, sometimes they keep us sane. This is something I wish to stress. People found compliments to be no news. Telling your professor that they are doing a great job doesn’t make most want to stop and write on a board, frustration does that.

Sometimes though a professor is the source of a smile. Sometimes you crave a beer with your favorite professor. Or, in my case, you give your thermodynamics professor a Valentines card.

“You are smarter than I will ever be,” “thanks for your jokes” and “you look very professional today.”

Others had even closer connections to their professors,

“Thanks for being my mom away from home.”

Sometimes professors understand you on a much deeper level. In smaller majors, especially colleges can seem like close-knit families. Larger colleges, including engineering from personal experience eventually shrink. Eventually, you find the friendly ones and they make it worth it.

Now that the air has been cleared we can get back to class and prepare for those finals. Professors aren’t all bad, for sure though there are critiques. These critiques are important for bettering education here at NDSU, positive or negative.

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