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April 27, 2005

The Naughty Professor

While I think my lectures are quite witty and no Dean has ever had cause to complain about my grading I think Thorstein Veblen was on to something with his office hours. Personally, I make certain to post my office hours in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard" to suggest an open-door policy (I make joke) (well, borrow joke actually). Heaven knows what Veblen would have made of email (via the Flea's Professional Development Manager).

Veblen's troubled Stanford years remind us that great brains do not a great professor make. Even his acolytes admitted that his lectures were incomprehensible. He mumbled, and recited the same material to undergraduate audiences and doctoral seminars. He hated the grading system, and willfully switched A's to C's and vice versa. "My grades are like lightning," he once said. "They are liable to strike anywhere." Students shunned him, and the feeling was mutual. One year, his posted office hours changed from "10-11, MWF" to "10-10:05, Mondays."

Posted by Ghost of a flea at April 27, 2005 09:27 AM

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