Professional professors

Professors are smarter than us. They have more degrees. They have more maturity. They have better judgment – most of the time.

The truth is, sometimes professors make mistakes, just like college students. However, when they make mistakes, they have to be held to higher standards than we do.

For example, it is a mistake for a professor to run his or her classroom in such a way that it prohibits the learning of a group of students. It is a mistake to make students feel unnecessarily uncomfortable while they’re learning. Yes, college is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, and with that comes an element of personal freedom. But, at the same time, all students should be allowed to function in class without feeling discriminated against. Professors should be smart enough to know what constitutes a marketplace of ideas and what constitutes repressing the ideas of others. If this is happening, it’s very likely that a classroom would function better if the professor got students to talk about their ideas – as opposed to the professor just espousing his or her ideas.

No student who’s paying $20,693 in tuition should feel his or her ideas are being repressed in the classroom. Of course, as with everything, there are limits. Students promoting overly off-the-wall or completely unrelated ideas don’t necessarily need to be granted an open mic. However, professors do need to be aware that, in the 21st century, discrimination can happen on many fronts: gender, race, class, religion, sexual orientation and even political beliefs.

But, just as some professors may be overly domineering, some may be overly lax. In this case, professors should be held to the same standards as students: they should come to class prepared, no matter what. Professors should not be showing videos every day for the entire class period. Simpson is not a film school, and it should not be turned into one. More importantly, professors should not leave the classroom during a movie. Doing so says to the students the professor doesn’t care. Or worse, it may send the message that the professor doesn’t think the class is smart enough to lecture to, so showing a movie is fine.

Professors should show respect for their students in the classroom. Their conduct outside the teaching environment is another matter. Outside the classroom, they’re human too and should be able to speak their minds.