Here’s something that happens at least once a day in my Geology 103 class:
Our professor, who is so Chinese that to write his name would look like somebody with a mouthful of weird consonants did a spit-take, will be lecturing about fossils or rocks or asteroids or something, when he will abruptly stop, point somewhere into the four hundred or so students in the lecture hall, and say, “You!”
The student he’s pointing at is someone he spotted discreetly texting or saying something quietly to a friend in the already dead silent classroom.
Very quickly he’ll whip around and grab the roll sheet for the class, and then march up the aisle, still pointing, until he reaches the student he was pointing at.
“Stand up please.” He’ll bark.
The student, mortified, will slowly stand, the eyes of the entire class upon him or her.
“What is your name?”
The student, who at this point is already embarrassed and shamed beyond belief in front of a large group of people, now has to sacrifice his or her anonymity, which is basically the last thing he or she has left. Naturally, the student makes a conscious effort to sound as nonchalant and collected as possible, and inevitably winds up sounding like he or she is about to or already has peed their pants.
“Hmm.” The professor says, looking down the list. Sometimes, depending on his mood, he’ll make a comment like, “Oh, Sarah, that’s a very nice name, yes,” which I guess is supposed to diffuse tension but instead makes him sound a lot more like a James Bond villain. ”No, Sarah, I expect you to DIE!” Once he’s found her name, he makes a mark next to it.
“Your final grade will be lowered by five points. Please leave my classroom.”
He will then stand there, with his arms crossed, and watch, silently, as the student in question picks up his or her things and shuffles out of the room, before he returns to the front of the classroom and launches back into his lecture as though he hadn’t just performed the academic equivalent of a Mortal Kombat fatality on one of his students.
Again, this happens at least once per class, usually more, and has been happening every Monday and Wednesday for the past seven weeks, and no doubt will continue.
Of course this would be the last class I take in college.
No, it wouldn’t be some piss-easy lecture that always gets out 20 minutes early and has a ten question open book final exam about what color and shape the rock in this picture is, taught by some hungover GTF or a professor so old he’s legally dead in California. No, of course not! That would not do at all.
As it turns out, my college career won’t end with a whimper, but with whatever fascism sounds like.*
*God, don’t you hate when some young asshole with four years of liberal arts education under his belt up and decides to start labeling every stern person he meets as a fascist? I think I’ve heard the term ‘fascist’ applied more in 2011 than it was used in the 1930s in reference to the actual inventors of fascism.
I think he got in trouble recently, though, when in a fit of particular disciplinary zeal he confiscated a girl’s cell phone and then refused to give it back to her even after class, which is pretty much stealing no matter what class you’re teaching. He devoted about half of the following class period to an open forum discussion about his disciplinary policy, which, while boring, beats the shit out of geology.
He explained to us that he’s teaching this course the exact same way he has for the past several years, save for this new harsh disciplinary policy, which he’s implementing for the first time this term. And then he revealed that this term, the average grades on our midterm were three percent higher than those of any previous class that hadn’t been taught with his draconian stance on distracting behavior.
Now that is what I call some old school science – he’s just conclusively proved that people of my generation get slightly smarter when they’re living in constant fear of public humiliation. Imagine how much higher standardized test scores would be if the bottom percentile were forced to come to class the following week naked.
He opened it up for discussion and a vote, giving us the option of getting rid of his policy if we found it upsetting, and in the end 85% of the class voted not to change anything.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t some sort of inspirational Stand And Deliver moment where we all rallied around our professor’s unorthodox methodology and quit being in Latino street gangs. Every day since then he’s still had to kick someone out; the only difference is that when we watch that person shuffle out of the classroom, we know that all of us (or, at least, 85% of us) were complicit in throwing them to the wolves.
For the record, I don’t think my professor is a fascist – the line earlier was just too good to pass up. He’s acting completely within his rights as a professor in the interests of preventing classroom distractions that will impair other students’ learning abilities in the class they’re paying to take.
He outlined for us his very strict policy on the first day of class. He explained exactly what types of punishments would happen if he caught people doing things he deemed distracting, and invited anybody who didn’t want to play by his rules to leave.
I’m not disputing the fact that he’s being a wang of the highest order, but his job is to teach us geology, and him being a wang has made us certifiably better at geology. He even gave us a chance to make him stop humiliating us and we cold turned it down – even we the students, who stand to suffer the most under his policy, recognize that it’s somehow made us better at remembering what Burgess shale is.*
*I have no idea what Burgess shale is.
Look, I’m just in it for a journalism degree – if I get to watch him make a different chatty freshman cry every day, well, that’s really almost a bonus.
Truman Capps would say that watching an old Asian guy humiliate cheerleaders is cheaper entertainment than a movie, but then he remembers that this class is costing $1100 for some reason.