Over at Brainstorm, Gina Barreca is asking students to list five things that professors need to know about how their students perceive them. This batch comes from a recent University of Connecticut graduate. Here is a taste:
You might not believe it, but most of the time we don’t think you are funny and we don’t even understand most of the references you make in terms of your attempts at humor. Only a few people still watch Monty Python and we’re not going to start just so we can understand what you mean by “silly walks” and we don’t know all the Simpsons episodes as well as you do. Please don’t get us started on Seinfeld. Our parents think that’s funny. We don’t. We laugh when you pause because you clearly expect it and we want to make you happy and/or get a good grade by getting into your good graces….
You might be puzzled, but yeah, we talk about you because we see you several times a week. We tell our friends whether or not you are a good teacher and we tell our parents and their friends the same. You are a big part of our lives and so if you see yourself mentioned on those teaching sites or Facebook or wherever, you should not assume we are weird. It would be strange if we didn’t discuss you. This loops back to the first point in this note, which is that we notice whether you give a damn about your teaching and about your students. You can make us feel like we have a chance at grasping a subject or understanding an idea or else make us feel like we’re as ridiculous, pathetic, and useless as we’ve always suspected we might be. It’s easy to make us feel bad and we talk highly of those professors who don’t take the easy way out….
Yeah, it's surprising how quickly the Monty Python references went out of date. In undergrad (which was only a few years ago) we even had a big Holy Grail party every year, yet now I can lecture about the Louisiana Purchase and nary a smile crosses a lip when I make references to “huge tracts of land.” (complete with hand motions)
Tom Van Dyke says
Ed Feser had one:
STUDENT: And you're always making these obscure references.
FESER: Yeah, I guess I'm the Dennis Miller of philosophy.
STUDENT: Who's Dennis Miller?
FESER: See what I mean?