One writer thinks that lecturers have it in for us this year, and they’re not exactly being subtle about it.
If there’s anything we’ve learnt (from home) this year, it’s the extent to which too many lecturers, meant to be looked up to and respected, have shown anything but respect to their students. From behind pixelated video calls with crackly audio comes a wave of arrogance and contempt, spewed at the unsuspecting students they are supposed to be teaching. Now, I understand that everyone has an off-day, but dismissing students when they ask for support? Shouting down disadvantaged students who speak up for themselves? What exactly is going on here?
The common factor that links each of these lecturers is their hypocrisy. The audacity to repeatedly ask for “patience and understanding in these unprecedented times” is not just hysterically hypocritical, it’s also insanely insulting.
“Patience” is a word so alien to so many lecturers that it’s surprising they can spell it, let alone muster the gall to request it. Deadlines encroach like predators in the dark, hungry eyes glowing like laser pointers targeting the last of our willpower with .50 calibre rounds; a situation students know all too well. The sheer effort it takes to make any sort of progress in reaching out to lecturers about the insanity of having labs, projects, assignments and class tests all in the same week, is beyond belief. Of course, there are student representatives, but there’s only so much that one person can do in the face of lecturers who seem more bothered about having to listen to us than they are about actually fixing the problems at hand. A plethora of rants in course group chats and emails from worried students are hardly effective when, at the end of the day, it all comes down to sheer lack of interest on the part of these lecturers. Feedback is met with swift dismissal; students complain about the inconsistency in overall exam format across courses and it gets shot down in flames; students bring up the increased difficulty of exams in comparison to previous years (despite this increased difficulty being unnecessary due to the increased difficulty in learning that has come from home learning) and get shot down again. It's not difficult to lose faith when you’re constantly told that your concerns aren’t valid.
“Understanding” seems in many cases to be the antithesis of “lecturer”, encapsulated best by the accounts of the many, many students who came forward about a certain Maths exam. These nasty, horrible, scum-of-the-earth-students had the nerve to contact the head of the course about the exam (which was more akin to an English paper than a Maths one; a looming wall of text with numbers dotted here and there across pages and pages of unnecessary prose). The blatant disrespect to go to the course head about how they were neurodivergent and how the radically different exam format disadvantaged them was unforgivable. I apologise for the sarcasm seeping from the screen at this point, but if I didn’t have a bit of fun with this, I think I’d have an aneurism – needless to say, this article hasn’t done much good for my blood pressure and the course head didn’t take kindly to the criticism. This ill-temperament was put on full display when said disadvantaged neurodivergent students were called “miserable” and accused of “just liking to complain” by the head of the course in a 40+ message moodle massacre of his dignity and the dignity of his fellow lecturer, who couldn’t help but join in. I think it’s sufficient to say that this inability to take criticism is somewhat endemic of every course, as I guarantee that every student reading this will be able to point to at least one lecturer in their course who seems put there for the sole purpose of making the entire educational process just that bit more gruelling.
With all of this taken into consideration, it’s not difficult to see why so many of us find it laughable to be asked to show “patience and understanding in these unprecedented times” when there’s a body of lecturers seemingly unable to do the same in return. The lecturer-student dynamic has been one-way for too long and it is in desperate need of a change.
You know, it’s almost scary. These are the people we’re meant to become, the one’s that will play a defining role in not only our time at university, but also our time on Earth. You only get one life, most people only have one career, and these are professors entrusted with a substantial amount of responsibility in shaping those for hundreds of students. We’re all products of our environment, wet clay to be moulded. Are we really to endure decades of education only to one day become just as embittered and unwaveringly unkind as those we currently find ourselves at the temperamental mercy of? We deserve better.
Lines and lines of insulting adjective after insulting adjective may be fun to type, but they would be pointless if there weren’t an effort made to change this status-quo of sub-par teaching and empathy. It wouldn’t take much to address the underlying issues here - more patience and understanding on behalf of the lecturers is the one crucial ingredient. An ability to use feedback to construct a better learning environment, for those of us who tune in every day to watch those pixelated zoom calls and to hear those crackling words of wisdom, would be greatly appreciated. It’s time for our lecturers to open their ears and do some learning of their own.
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