It’s ridiculous: easy professors waste my time

Derek Thurber

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Everybody knows bad professors should be avoided. One of the first things I learned when I was a first-year was that it was better to select classes for professors than for topics. But what I have been running into recently is not bad professors, but easy ones.
Professors who don’t care about grading : who don’t want to push me to do my best: are a waste of my time. It’s ridiculous that I should spend so much money to come here each year and not get pushed to learn as much as I can.

I know it can be nice to know you don’t have to try your hardest on a paper for a certain class. But if you know the professor is going to be easy grading it then you won’t try and you won’t learn.

I had class at Whitman that was flat-out the easiest class I have ever been in. I went and sat in the room each week listening to a lecture that was very straightforward. And I wrote papers that did little more than scratch the surface of the topic. It should have been the easiest “A” I have ever had.

But I got a “B.”

I don’t blame the professor. I think he or she did the right thing in giving me a “B,” but he or she did not do the right thing in teaching me. If I had cared about what I was doing… if I had thought I was going to get anything out of class… if I had been pushed to try harder by the professor… then I am sure I would have gotten a better grade.

It is an interesting but very true phenomenon that occurs at Whitman and probably at almost every other college and university around the country. The classes that are the hardest are the most rewarding. And ultimately, we do the best in those classes despite their difficulty.

Another class I took at Whitman stands out as challenging me to always do better. At first I wanted to cry and give up: to throw in the towel and exclaim that nothing could make this professor happy.

But after my initial frustration at the first bad grade on a paper, I was that much more determined to do better on the next paper. I was going to show my professor that I had what it took to be in that class.

I ended up getting an “A” in the class.

Logically, it should have been the other way around. I should have gotten the better grade in the easy class. But I didn’t. I didn’t care in the easy class. The hard class and the hard professor made me want to try my best. They made me do my best.

It is one of the best feelings in the world to get a paper back with a good grade on it and know: I mean truly know in your heart: that you earned it. That paper was a good paper because your professor wouldn’t give you an “A” if it weren’t.

These classes are the ones that stand out. So here is what I would say to the professors: Don’t go easy on us. We want to earn our grades and we will try so much harder if we respect you for only taking our best work.

From now on, I am only taking the classes with professors that have a reputation of being hard graders. Those are the classes I do the best in and the ones I like the most. Those are the ones I remember as the best.

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