Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ten Ways To Drive Students Crazy

Sometimes students make us crazy. It's true.

But often enough, instructors and professors drive students nuts as well. Here are some few of the ways. Feel free to add your own!

1. Have a sexual or dating relationship with a student. This may seem okay to the one student, if s/he doesn't feel that s/he's forced, but it's still creepy. To other students, it's obvious that the one student is going to be favored in ways that will disadvantage them. Extra points for flaunting your relationship in front of the whole campus.

2. Grade erratically. Don't tell students what you expect on an assignment or how to do better. If you can use the stair method in front of your students, all the better. Don't tell students what a grade of 16 means, what scale it's on, or how much the assignment counts for in the course.

3. Consistent lateness. The prof who always comes in ten minutes late is bad enough; when that same prof holds the class ten minutes late to "make up" for his/her lateness, that's close to criminal. Or at least really, really rude. And, of course, be absolutely firm that you don't accept student work even a minute late for any reason whatsoever.

4. Miss office hours or blow students off. This is most effective when you've been busy with your favorite student for an hour, while other students are lined up sitting on the floor hoping for some help. And then you just don't have time to talk to those students. Double points if you can decline to talk to the students with a sexist or racist comment thrown in.

5. Don't hand out a syllabus or assignments. Just give information verbally at some point. Or not. And change your mind about things several times for maximum unclarity.

6. Wait forever to grade papers. Procrastinate until the end of the semester, and then just assign grades randomly. If you can blog about procrastinating, all the better.

7. Don't respond to emails or phone calls, even if you're sitting in the office while they're on the phone. Double credit if you're avoiding an advisee who needs a form signed before the deadline and s/he's been trying to reach you for three weeks or more.

8. Complain endlessly about how hard you work and how underpaid you are. Complain especially loudly while standing in the store where your student works as a checkout or stock clerk for minimum wage. Extra credit if you hire a student worker to clean your house or babysit your kids but don't pay even minimum wage because you're so devastatingly underpaid.

9. Teach from your own text, which you "update" every year by changing the pagination and one or two illustrations. Otherwise, make no changes in your lectures, because really, it's not like the laws of physics have changed in the past billion years or two.

10. Make rude comments. Comment on your students' tattoos, especially if you can talk about their "tramp stamps." Note that some students are just stupid or whatever. Tell female students that they shouldn't worry about grad school or grades or whatever because they're just going to get married anyway and it's a waste of resources to teach them anything.


  1. Ugh - those are doozies! There's one horrible, sexist, asshole of a grad student in our department who routinely comments on how he can see his female students' thongs above their waistbands. He claims he's going to snap one someday. I can't wait for the sexual harrassment whirlwind to ensue...

  2. Great list! I can't believe anyone who commits all 10 of these would still be employed, especially for violating #1.

  3. I once had a prof who changed the syllabus just about every time we had class. I learned from that experience that it's better to have TONS of prep at the beginning of the semester/summer than to have to put your students through that torture.

    Also, the prof who was the chair of my PhD exams committee told me after I passed, "Congratulations! You passed. Now it's dissertation time, and we really get to shit on you." I changed my committee immediately.

  4. I'm pretty sure one of my professors is working his way through this list... With astonishing speed, to be honest.

  5. anyone committing #10 should be re-assigned to duty serving at the cafeteria, whereupon their behavior would be grounds for immediate dismissal. that day.

  6. Anonymous3:36 PM

    Find out what students are saying things about you on RMP or the campus version, and threaten them if they have any criticisms at all. Tell them, as they're filling out their student eval forms, that you know who they are and they better give you good evals. Then brag to other faculty about what a great teacher you are in addition to being a totally hotshit researcher.

  7. Great list. Sad, but great.

  8. Ooh, I have a colleague who commits ALL of these offenses. Actually he gave up on 5 because of university policy. And he's also just been forced to take early retirement instead of being fired, so I guess he is probably not to be viewed as a role model.

  9. Haha. Or the ones who make EVERYTHING about either them or sex. Or politics (unless they are actually teaching political sci).

  10. Late grading certainly used to get up the backs of the students I worked with, but the other thing where grading was concerned was the one word comment on a 5000 word paper. Had they read it or simply graded it by weighing it?

  11. Good grief! Are there still profs out there engaging in this kind of behavior?

    Of course, I know that there are -- I know a couple -- but I like to keep my head buried in the sand, which is what allows me to only complain about what *students* do. I guess that could be #11: Complain endlessly about bad student behavior while refusing to acknowledge all the evils committed by faculty, including, yes, you yourself.

  12. I had that professor! I now call him "the anecdote farm."

  13. OK, missed dragonfly's comment the first go-around. We begged, BEGGED, our political science professors to tell us their assessment of anything political. They wouldn't do it. Meanwhile Anecdote Farm used the fact that we had a polisci department, which simply must be indoctrinating students, as an excuse for his constant sexist/racist nitwitery. He was just showing 'the other side.'