The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

Paying tuition to learn, not to be attacked

Written by: Sharon Jones

This semester, I have had to deal with a very sarcastic and snide professor in a fine arts class. Frankly, I am highly unsatisfied with this professor’s conduct and low level of professionalism. I’ve had this problem with only this professor, who will remain unnamed.

Every so often, students will encounter a professor whom they disagree with, or may not like. But when an entire classroom full of students agrees about this pessimistic professor, there is a big problem.

As students, we are here to learn and to take constructive criticism when needed; we are not here for personal commentary. The class this professor teaches is supposed to be objective and open minded. But this professor makes the learning atmosphere extremely subjective. Students feel that they are not good enough.

A classmate who is a junior in her major said to me, “It’s not so much what is said, but more of how it’s said. We’re spoken to as if we don’t have feelings or an attachment to our hard work.” I completely agree with my fellow classmate.

We pay thousands of dollars in tuition not to mention that for this class we are expected to pay an extra $200 to $400 on supplies. We pay tuition, and work hard for our education, in order to learn new ideas and skills.

We do not pay tuition to hear rude, one-sided comments about our work, which we thought we did well on. We also do not pay to sit in class, anxiety-ridden, because the professor cannot communicate in a positive way. This makes it impossible for me and for others to want to learn from this professor.

Another classmate who is a sophomore explained how she felt to me: “I feel as if I shouldn’t even have this major because I am made to feel like I won’t be able to accomplish it”. I highly doubt the university would want to lose tuition payments because a teacher led a student to quit school.

I and my fellow classmates have endured seeing students cry. Instead of hearing what they could improve, they felt personally attacked. We’ve listened to the professor complain that students weren’t dedicated to their work. But I would say that if we are all thousands of dollars in debt because of tuition, we may be slightly dedicated to the class.

I’m paying for instruction, not for a hurtful atmosphere. It’s understandable that this may be a part of the professor’s personality. But it’s not understandable that we are paying to be talked to with such judgment, and with a tone that would rub anyone the wrong way.

Instead of showing students how to improve, this professor is scaring students away with these snide remarks. This makes learning minimal, because we don’t want to learn anymore.

It is an insult to us, as students who are trying to develop skills, and who are paying for an education. Professors are here to create an environment that is judgment free. Professors expect respect from students, and the students should, and do, expect the same respect in return.

According to the Faculty and Staff page on The University of Akron’s website, Akron has a “highly talented faculty who will help mold you.” But in this case, I would have to disagree with that statement. I only wish that, with time, things may get better, especially since I and many other students have invested an immense amount of time, and money, in this class.


Student who pays for encouragement only.

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  • H

    HofgenOct 19, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    I had an experience like this in my second semester. I had a public speaking class taught by an older gentleman who, as he told us during one of his tangents, had been retired for ten years, got bored, and decided that the best thing to do was go teach again.
    I don’t know what he was like in his prime, but the teacher we got was unfocused, judgmental, and often just plain rude. He wasted large segments of class time telling the class about his favorite hobby, playing bridge. He played bridge every morning and evening so there was a nearly endless supply of material. We heard about all his opponents and partners; who was the best, who wasn’t nice, on and on every single class session.
    When he finally got around to “teaching” he couldn’t keep a train of thought going for more than five minutes, flying from one thought to the next and never really teaching anything fully. Just like with bridge we got to hear about every teacher he ever knew, what they thought and said, and how great they were.
    He regularly asked students questions in front of the class that were the kind of thing a teacher should be asking privately, if at all. He told us repeatedly throughout the semester that the keys to passing his class were coming to class, showing up on time, and having a good attitude. However, this did not apply to him. He’d show up late or in a bad mood and take it out on the class like it was no big deal.
    If explaining a common composition mistake to the class he would make a point of singling out the person who made the mistake. As a public speaking teacher you would expect him to know how to act while someone is speaking publicly, but every time a student tried to give a speech he repeatedly interrupted to ask questions, interject what he knew about the subject, and often undercut the speaker on a point before they could make it. However, this wasn’t much of a problem for me, because of his horrible scheduling and time wasting I only gave one speech the entire semester.
    There were a few moments that would have been funny, except for the fact that he was our teacher. He once walked in to class a few minutes late, told the class to take out a piece of paper, and instructed us to write down what he was thinking as he drove into work that day. He regularly wore boots to class and then changed to sandals in the middle of the room while teaching. One day he passively mentioned that he once appeared on Jeopardy, but even when asked he wouldn’t elaborate much on the experience. It was the one story we wanted to hear, but he didn’t have much to say about it, other than he blew Final Jeopardy.
    I attempted to lighten the mood in class one day by bringing the book “Bridge for Dummies,” which I had stumbled across at the library. The rest of the class thought it was hilarious when I started reading it at the beginning of class, the teacher on the other hand said he hadn’t seen that book for a long time, told me the name of the author (and then told me how great of a writer he was), and then told me it was a great book, as if I was actually reading it.
    What confused me most was the fact that he didn’t provide a syllabus until several weeks into the semester. Once he did it was as if he just put his ramblings on to paper and didn’t even include the most tentative of schedules. On several occasions the English department sent someone to observe the class, but through some sort of magic he would talk them out of staying. At one point he told the class that someone may come to observe the class so he was going to have some sort of lesson plan for that day, to the class this came of as him asking us to play along with whatever kind of act he was going to put on for the person observing.
    I’ve had some incompetent teachers over the past couple years, but I haven’t experienced anything as bad as this guy. It still baffles my mind that someone like him could be employed to teach anything at a university. The one positive I have found in having a horrible teacher, and it proved to be very true in this situation, is that the worse the teacher the better the comradery amongst classmates.