What Professors Want
By Arnold Kling
To make friends with your teachers, try the following:
• Read your assignments and be ready to discuss them.
I can tell you, based on my years of teaching at glorious American University, stupendously beautiful University of California, Santa Cruz, and spiritual and good-hearted Pepperdine, that not a lot of your fellow students will have read the assigned work.
If you’re among the ones who have read it, and can raise your hand to discuss it, you’ll place yourself at the top of the teacher’s mind right away. He or she will be conscious of you, will appreciate you, and will remember you.
• Be polite but firm in class.
If you and your teacher disagree on something, you shouldn’t be afraid to challenge him or her. Never do so rudely or cruelly (although you’ll be tempted), but teachers want you to challenge them if it’s based on facts and data and sound reasoning. They consider it a job well done when their students do that.
…Teachers are there to teach. If you show that you’re there to learn, they’ll admire you and thank you. Not as many students are in school to learn as there should be. If you’re one of them, you’re way ahead of the game.
One year I went to the board and I wrote “goal is to get the most out of class.” I said that this phrase applied to a winner. Then I said that losers were slightly different. To illustrate, I erased the words “the most.”
Teaching mostly losers is no fun. That’s why I’m working on this idea I’m calling peripatetics.
I wonder what would happen if you took the government subsidies out of education. Would the losers disappear from campus? Or would colleges become so dependent on tuition that they would move in the direction of accommodating the losers?