In Loco Doctorem

Professors have weird obsessions that make everybody’s life harder and turn them into a whiny, slobbering mess. I sporadically browse professor FB groups, and the whining is insane.

Like due dates. The obsession with due dates is quite ridiculous, especially since most academics never hand in their articles on time and do everything 5 weeks late.

I’m completely relaxed about due dates. Can’t hand it in on the due date? Then bring it next week. Or next month. As long as I get it before the end of the semester, I’m good. As a result of this laid back approach, I almost never get situations when people hand in anything late. I respect students, and students respect me.

During exams, I approach every student and point out mistakes en cours. If I see that somebody is completely lost, I say, “hey, take it home, finish it in peace. Take as long as you need. Ask the tutor to help. Come to my office and we’ll do it together.” (We provide free tutors.) Why not? The goal is to learn, not get punished. In all the years I’ve been teaching, nobody abused my trust.

I don’t mind getting emails at night or over the weekend either. What’s the big deal, seriously? If people need help, I’m there to provide it. It’s worse when they don’t reach out.

And what’s with the stupid obsession with not putting your PowerPoints online? I put all of mine online. They are incomprehensible without my lecture anyway because I mostly use images to supplement the narrative. I even give tests where all students have to do is identify images and explain what they mean.

I also don’t ban cellphones in the classroom. If my lecture is so boring that people want to browse Instagram instead, it’s only fair that they should do so. In any case, I’m not their mommy. They are adults and can decide what’s in their best interest.

I ask students what format they want the test to be. Short questions? Long questions? Chronological exercise? Fill-in-the-blanks? I ask, “should we practice writing or speaking? An essay or an oral exam?” They tend to make the best choices, too.

I have so much going on in research and administration that I have zero interest in policing students or being their mommy. And it works out great because when you remove this unnecessary antagonism and bickering over cell phones or due dates, everybody has more energy to dedicate to the actual work.

I hate the philosophy of “in loco parentis.” I’m only acting as parent to my kid. Everybody else should go find their own parente.

“We should teach them values!” Oh, unclench. These are adults. Their raising has already been done.