It’s the first day of a new class. You walk in and quickly glance over the faces of your fellow, tired, classmates before realizing you don’t know anyone. You sigh as you take an available seat in the back of the class. If you haven’t had this professor before, you anxiously await the syllabus. If it’s less than three pages, you’re happy. If it’s more than six, you quickly think about how you can finagle to drop this class for an easier one. During the first week of class you go through the essential college student checklist. Does the professor let us out of class early? How quickly do they answer their e-mail? How many tests, how many papers, are they a difficult grader? In my experience, all college students think about these, and rarely think about the person that is teaching them. We choose the class by the subject, but we don’t have a say in which topics are discussed, the pace of the class or the assignments given to us. The professor leads the discussion and chooses which questions to ask us.
Why don’t we take more of an interest in who’s teaching us? Over the years I have had the opportunity to get to know how certain Professors work, and their personalities. There is no doubt that those who teach us are intelligent, but what is beyond the intelligence?
I am taking a summer class and have a professor that has astounded me with his knowledge and ability to dissect and analyze poetry in a way that is both beautiful and baffling. I am completely lost in this class, I am the first to admit that I have never before read poetry or thought I would find enjoyment in it. A few classes ago, he referred to himself as a poet. The naive, little girl inside me thought wait, you’re a professor, not a poet. Then I immediately reprimanded myself for thinking something so shallow and narrow-minded. So, the thought for this blog post was born. Who is teaching us? What’s their story? Did they always want to teach college or is this only their day job? What’s their real passion? I thought about this for a few days and decided to google my professor’s name. I found that he is published and I looked for his work. It was better than what we are studying in class (which are all phenomenal poets), in my opinion. Since reading his work, learning about the multiple awards he has received and the books he has published, I began to respect the class much more. Now knowing that this isn’t a class that was just assigned to him, but that it is subject matter he cares deeply about.
I encourage you to learn more about who’s teaching you. I bet if you learn how they got involved in the subject matter they’re teaching, and how passionate they are about it, you’ll get excited to learn from them – and learn more. Trivial things like the length of the syllabus and if they let you out of class early won’t matter. You may even get absorbed into the subject matter more. I know that since learning about the passion that my professor has about poetry has made me more excited to learn from him, and has made me appreciate poetry in a way I never thought I would.