Losing Respect for Professors

@ParaTed2k (22980)
Sheboygan, Wisconsin
October 28, 2008 4:57pm CST
A long time ago, when I was young and naive, I actually thought that professors were the ultimate teachers. I thought it was awesome that there were people who had dedicated their lives to education to the point that they would work so hard, and spend so many years in college to master their craft. After so much time and work, how great is it that they are willing to pass the fruits of their labors by teaching college students in the classroom. I guess growing up does mean learning the difference between myth and fact. As I got to know more about higher education in the US I learned that professors aren't teachers at all. In fact, unless their area of expertise happens to be education, they probably never took a single class on how to teach. As I got to know some professors, I learned that not only don't they consider teaching part of their jobs, many in the profession consider the classroom beneath them. So is the major responsibility of professors? To get published. So my question is, why are billions of taxpayer dollars going to people whose major responsibility is writing books that few people will ever read voluntarily? Please, someone explain to me what service professors provide that makes them worth their taxpayer funded paychecks.
4 people like this
12 responses
@katran (590)
• United States
28 Oct 08
Professors are like everything else in life. There are some bad ones and some good ones. Just like in high school and grade school there were some teachers who acted like they would just rather not be there. I had a teacher or two in high school who seemed to hate their job and hate kids and I wondered every day why they did not just get another job. I think professors are the same way. In my experience, I have had some professors who were simply amazing teachers, and I have also had some professors that could not care less about their students. There is not really anything anyone can do to fix this. If we stop paying bad professors, we will also have to stop paying bad grade school and high school teachers, and eventually there will be no teachers left. There would have to be a different solution to the problem.
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
28 Oct 08
Apparently you went to a college where professors actually do teach. That's great! I wonder if it is voluntary of mandatory for them. My attitude isn't about whether or not all professors are great. I agree with you, some are great, some are bums with a paycheck. It's like that in every profession so why not among professors. I just wonder why tax money should go to professors whose sole purpose in life is to get published.
2 people like this
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
29 Oct 08
It's sad, but completely true. My wife is working towards being a college professor and has learned that being a good teacher has nothing to do with getting a job as a professor. She's been told in no uncertain terms that if she wants to be looked at for such positions, she MUST be published. Since she's a music major she must either do that, or have released a CD. Being published is important either way. The fact that she worked for a year as an adjunct professor, or that she's taught public school are meaningless. So is her perfect GPA. Of course, only minions of Obama really believe GPA matters in the real world.
2 people like this
@N4life (851)
• United States
29 Oct 08
Since you accused me of making excuses and being lazy...um excuses...excuses. Kind of ironic. Tell here to get published like the ret of us do..or maybe that is just a left wing thing.
2 people like this
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
29 Oct 08
So I guess Dave Barry is more qualified to be a professor than any actual teacher.
2 people like this
@Taskr36 (13923)
• United States
29 Oct 08
What's ironic about it? You have no idea what you're talking about. She's taking 8 classes right now while working on her Phd and DMA simultaneously. She's already had one research study published. The point I was making was that her teaching skills and experience were not going to be a factor when she applied to be a full time professor. Your pathetic attempt at an attack failed miserably. My wife and I work hard for what we have and don't depend on government handouts like Obama's minions.
2 people like this
@Hatley (164232)
• Garden Grove, California
29 Oct 08
parated hi Not all professors are like that. I had some professors that really loved to teach and I learned a lot from them too. Of course there are duds just like in any other industrty.Those good profs do make students want to learn, and they do love teaching,never mind the books they may or may not publish.
2 people like this
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
29 Oct 08
It is those kind of professors that help me maintain some respect for the profession. Of course, even if I totally lost respect for the profession itself, I would still have utmost respect for a good teacher... even if they were professors. :~D
2 people like this
@Hatley (164232)
• Garden Grove, California
29 Oct 08
also it depends a lot on the university that you go to. I went to the U of Ca at Irvine Ca and really had several wonderful teachers and one whom I dispised. He read a paper of mine in front of a class of one hundred students and made horrible fun of it, and I was in tears, all the student s around me were trying to tell me he w as a jerk. I did a paper very similar to that one for another prof who also read it aloud, and told us all that this was an excellent paper and he e ven congratulated me on it. so you never know. it is sad to have so spend so much for education and get some proffessors who are like the jerk.To make matters worse I was not in my twenties at the time, I was 56 which did not help anything But I did get my degree af ter all.I had one negro proffessor who was female and she was just wondeful, she made greek and roman history so much fun i could not believe it. I really liked her so much.
2 people like this
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
29 Oct 08
Yes, we get our degrees with help from great teachers... we also get them inspite of piss poor ones.
1 person likes this
• Malaysia
29 Oct 08
I understand your situation, but please don't lose respect yet for professors. Not everybody is lacking the responsibility when he is working as a professor. It happens that when a person becomes a professor he has the opportunity opened wide for him to get published. This is an advantage to him, and this speciality is given to him as a bonus because he is in the right track to publish. Who else is more suitable to publish if not professors, the intelligent ones? Doctors, engineers, lawyers, all of them can get published too but they seem not having much time to get published. Or maybe they choose not to get published for certain reasons of the unknown. Yes, it is true that professors are not teachers at all because they are never trained to teach. And they never knew how to teach in the first place. They are only hired because they have Masters Degree in qualified fields. But still, professors are human beings too. I guess one of the reasons why professors like to get published is because their pay is not as much as the pay of doctors, engineers or lawyers. I don't know, maybe this is true. As in my country a professor's salary is lower than the salary of an engineer. An engineer can earn up to RM20k per month but a professor only earns RM5-8k monthly. But all in all, they are still one of the huge contributor to our society because they are the ones who teach our kids to get their diploma, degree and masters degree, etc.
2 people like this
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
29 Oct 08
If they are all about writing books, let them write books and live off the royalties instead of being some kind of royalty in their own minds. The purpose of the university is to teach students. If professors aren't there to teach students, they are a waste of taxpayer money. The janitor seems to be more productive than the professors. Here in the US professors make a lot of money. Of course, it does depend on what university and department, but the ones in prestigious positions make enough to be neighbors of senators.
1 person likes this
29 Oct 08
Earnings within the profession are not as good as people think, though they are certainly not bad. Most professors get further income from research grants, publications and external work. It is similar to a sports star - a good basic wage, but the vast wealth comes from endorsements. I supplement my income by translating for other institutions and grading exam papers.
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
14 Nov 08
Good point, and there is nothing wrong with a professional using their skills and experience to supplement their income. However, if the side projects keep them so busy that they no longer have time for the students then they have no business being paid by the university.
@kdhartford (1152)
• United States
28 Oct 08
I tend to agree that professors are the last people that you really want to learn from...they have such narrow focus. It is good to have some people around with this focus, but for most of us...it is good to have broad knowledge on many subjects so that we can get around in the world. I think my respect for professors has been falling because of thier involvement in politics and pentalizing them when students disageee with them.
2 people like this
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
28 Oct 08
Any professor or teacher who penalizes students because they disagree political should be fired! That is called "abusing their position" and is a sign of incompetence.
3 people like this
29 Oct 08
A professor should definitely not be so narrowminded. In certain subjects there is a right and a wrong, but in the majority opinions and discourse are what is expected from the student. Only through that, will a truly rounded individual come into being.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Oct 08
Wow, this very true in many places around the country. Many professors that have tenure, request that their graduate students or associate professors help with their class load. I wish that professors would not leave the majority of the work for other people. For instance, students pay for the pleasure of learning from these qualified experts, yet, it seems difficult to get their entire attention. This is problematic, and indicates poor work discipline. I bet if their paychecks depended on actual classroom instruction hours, it would be a different scenario.
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
29 Oct 08
It is truly sad that all that knowledge and academic experience turns out NOT being used to educate students.
1 person likes this
29 Oct 08
I am a university professor in the UK, but have had some dealings with American universities, and the experiences are not so different. There is a great deal of difference between a professor and a teacher; this is because university students are deemed to be maturer and capable of much more self-education. Teachers give children the groundwork for the future, but by university age, the professors are guides, to facilitate the students and help direct their studies. Universities also place pressure upon professors to be published, as it is deemed to bring prestige upon the institute, and making fundraising easier for the unis.
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
30 Oct 08
I agree that that should be one of the differences between the professor and the teacher, but if the professor has no actual contact with students, how are they "guides" for anyone? I'm not even against the importance of being published, but let's face it, there are many works out there that are published, but aren't worth the paper they are printed on. How many textbooks, sublimentals, and theses would ever be purchased by anyone if course instructors didn't make them required reading? How many books are students forced to buy, but are then rarely (if ever) even refered to by the teacher, professor or TA? Publishing new and/or vital information is one thing. Publications that are only bought by force is pretty much a scam.
30 Oct 08
I do understand your scepticism about publications, and youu are right that many of these publications are not only unnecessary, but far too often, factually false. The problem, though, is not really of the professors making; there are many external factors which are playing a part. One of the greatest blights in this field is television. Nowadays, there are whole channels devoted to history, nature, politics, and, other such subjects. Each of these channels wants shows, even new shows covering topics already extensively covered before. These television production companies pay universities large sums of money to put a viewer friendly professorial face into their programmes, but want a new angle for an old story, and often follow a fad. Within my own sphere of speciality (European History and Literature, especially Semiotics in writing and art), the worst thing to happen since the holocaust was the publication of Dan Browns 'Da Vinci Code'. I have been approached on more than a dozen occassions by representatives of my university, the written press and television production companies, with them all wanting me to distort Templar history to make connections between Dan Browns writing and history. The truth of the matter is, simply, that, whilst being a fun, pulp fiction who-dunnit, the Da Vinci Code makes leaps of faith, distorts historic fact and is absolutely fraudulent. Not one person asked me to rubbish the novel and tell the truth. No-one wanted the reality and genuine explainations of the history and symbolism that Dan Brown refers to. Accordingly, I have refused all offers and pressure. I have students, who have read the book, who need 'de-Dan Browning' before they can start studying properly. Fortunately, I already hold tenure at the university, but I know that other professors who have not yet attained that level of security have had to produce papers and research to suit the needs of the tv community. Additionally, the universities themselves apply pressure on professors to publish a minimum amount of research and papers every year, so that they can parade you in front of wealthy people. These wealthy people believe that shaking my hand somehow makes them profoundly more intelligent, and they then reward the university with funding. The end result of this is that I spend roughly 9 hours a week in the lecture theatre and a further 16 hours each week in 1 to 1 discussion with students. I believe that this is not a proper use of my time, and wish that I could spend more time in the theatre, trying to supply the guidance to which I referred. Alas, my hands are tied, and the university feels that my time can be 'more profitably' spent, though that profit is financial, rather than student directed. I do understand your frustration, but it is the system that is broken, not the professors, although there are some professors who do not share my view, and would rather pander to television and personal ego (Simon Schama, are you reading this?).
30 Oct 08
There are a lot of Hospital/Paramedic style programmes, and my own Grandfather was an ambulance driver himself. Whenever I see a trailer for ER, with some doctor sat on the patient giving heart massage, I can't help but think of my old grandad. I don't think he would have done much of that kind of thing - rather more dramatic than practical. Hopefully, they would have given CPR etc at the scene and/or onboard the ambulance. I know tv should be slightly escapist, but please, can we stay on this planet? Thanks for your considerate comments, and I hope that any of your friends and family attending university get the best quality professors.
• United States
29 Oct 08
It does depend on where you go. Most, if not all, community colleges (Unfortunately, they only cover the first two years of college.) are institutions of higher education dedicated to teaching. Quite often, a master's degree is required, & in the employment searches, they might mention that a doctorate is preferred. Quite often, especially if part of the institution's name is "univsersity" or "institute," their primary responsibility is research. Most of the income is from research contracts of sorts, & particularly private institutions, very little or no tax dollars go to it, other than a tax exemption as an education entity. What makes it a big problem is that the class size can be overwhelming, like over 100 students in one classroom where they need audio equipment so that the lecturer can be heard. The professors all REQUIRE doctorates. At the same time, that research & getting published are ways for a faculty member to get help from students in getting reseacrch done - of course, under the guidance of a professor, & at the same time, credit towards the students' master's or doctorate. What makes teaching hard is not so much the expertise in whatever you're teaching. It's that special ability to take what you know, & passing it on so that students, too, will know. There are a lot of other factors, such as grading papers & exams ... Quite often, especially when it comes to transfer students that did their first two years at a community college, some of these universities are like a thorn in the sides of the professors of community colleges. Quite often, a is unable to go to the professor teaching the class, & they turn to the professors they had when attending the community college for help. Another common mis-conception is that the more "basic" that the material being taught is, the harder that is to teach. That's probably why college & university professors do not need to take courses in teaching.
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
14 Nov 08
I completely understand and agree that it takes more than expertise in a subject to be able to teach it. It took me about two years to develop my technique for teaching guitar. So much of it is forcing yourself to go back to when things weren't just second nature. So much of what we do is done without thinking about it anymore, but if you can't bring yourself back to where the students are, then you can't teach. I would expect all professors to have TAs and other student assistants to grade papers and other mundane things. It is a waste of time and money for someone with a PhD to spend hours doing such work. From where I sit, if the class is more than about 40 people then it might as well be done online or distance ed. Once the class gets that big, there is really no interaction between the students and teacher anyway. Yeah, a few students might be able to get a question or two out, if the teacher makes time for it, but that is not usually the reality. But Jr. and Sr. level classes usually aren't that big, and there is no reason for a TA to be teaching people who are maybe a semester behind them in the first place. It is a travesty that professors aren't required to have classes in teaching. They are educators after all.
• United States
15 Nov 08
Quite often, it does seem that some private universities, particularly those that have a very strong focus on engineering, are actually research institutions, & the reason they adopt the name "institute," or if they large enough so that they can divide the various departments into "schools of ... " is so they can declare themselves tax exempt. Theur primary source of income is from research grants from companies & corporations, or even the government, to come up with solutions to various problems, or at least, a step closer to solving whatever problem needed a solution. Tuition paid by the students - whether out of their pockets or by financial aid - lumped together with donations from alumni, are usually more of a loss than a profit.
@urbandekay (18308)
29 Oct 08
Here in UK, they must teach as well but research and publication is their chief concern. A shift in balance is indeed needed all the best urban
@ParaTed2k (22980)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
14 Nov 08
Interesing. If UK professors can be involved in other projects and still teach, then US professors should be able to. I know there is a time difference between the prime meridian and US time zones, but that doesn't mean there are more hours in a day there. :~D
@rmuxagirl (7559)
• United States
14 Nov 08
The professors I had took being a professor seriously, well I did have one who didn't. But I had one I loved who took teaching like it was his life's passion. He would go out of his way to make sure his students understood the subject matter. I don't think taxpayer money pays for professors rather than the college tuition we pay. I have the utmost respect for many of my professors even now that I graduated.
@xzg555898 (210)
• China
1 Nov 08
i strongly approve with you . many professors in the college are not the persons who are ultimate ,sometimes thry are just as normal as a student or even worse than the students some professors will not give your new knowledge but just read the book for you ,i ofen said to myself when i take some professors' lessons :i know the words ,and i can read them by myself ,please give me some new ,i do not need a reader ,hehe ,but he is always reading words by words ,no stop ,no change ,no explain ,i hope this kind of teachers are only in my university , it is harmful ,wast our time ,money ,and trust. have a nice day ,some professor are not good ,but we can have a nice day by myself.
@youdontsay (3503)
• United States
30 Oct 08
"(Latin: professor, person is professed to be an expert in some art or science, teacher of highest rank)" is from Wikipedia. My experience with professors has been that most are experts in their field but most have no training in adult education. I've had professors that really excited me about learning their subject and others who put me to sleep. While all of them knew a lot about whatever their subject was, many of them had no idea or motivation about how to teach it to adults. I think college instructors should be trained educators and researchers shouldn't teach without that training.