Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it

My first semester in college, I had went to my Algebra instructor to get some help on one section. He told me that since I had missed the lecture, I either needed to get with another student or go to the tutoring center.

He wouldn't help me. At all. I was stuck on a problem, not the concept.

I still managed to squeak a B out of that class, but in the back of my mind I wondered if he had helped me, could I have gotten an A?

(There was another factor that he screwed me over on, but that is a post for another day.)

I had forgotten the coldness of that instructor until this past weekend when I was rehashing the conversation with the history professor. That was my main reason for wanting to have a private conversation with him.

Sarah pointed out that he probably cares about his students. He really does. As far as just the history professors at our school, he gives us way more liberties than we deserve.

After class today I went to him and started out by saying that what I was about to say was meant with all due respect, I enjoyed his class, and appreciated all that he does for us. (He immediately looked p!$$ed.) Then I basically told him how I felt about his reaction to my question.

In mind, I even mentioned this to my FAVORITE history person, Fiona, I had a fantasy that he'd say, "You know. I've been thinking about that. I am sorry that I cut you off-I didn't even give you a chance to finish asking your question. Of course you can come and see me with any questions you may have. I am certain you are doing the best you can."

oh what an imagination I have....

He listened briefly then went into a 25 minute discussion on what he perceives to be well over and beyond what any other professor would do. He used to be more popular when he did less. (um. ok?)

In the end he said he didn't recall cutting me off, and he was sorry if he'd hurt my feelings. He assured me that I could come by with any questions. Students do it all the time!


Bottom line is this: He really does care. He really does go over and beyond what any other instructor/professor would. He really would rather if we didn't come by.

I am going to take Fiona's advise. History is one long, (mostly) true story. Figure out the characters and what makes them important.

Books. I can relate.

I feel better for speaking up for myself even though I am certain he didn't hear me. Let's hope this doesn't affect my grade....


Rachel said...

I have found many times that, when I speak my mind, I am satisfied, even when the result isn't what I'd hoped for. Good for you!

Bridgett said...

I"m sorry, but what is the deal with these professors not wanting to take questions? Aren't teachers supposed to TEACH?
Which includes answering the questions your students may have?

I just don't get it. I don't care if he gives you the test and the answers...he's still not doing his job as far as I'm concerned.

Good luck with him for the rest of the semester!


Fiona said...

Well, that's a pretty good outcome. I mean, he didn't freak out on you. And you know I thought it was only a 50/50 chance that it would be a productive conversation to have. So I think you did well, and he probably felt a little defensive and talked himself right into a hole. Rachel's right - the important thing is that you said what you meant to say.

That said: he *is* doing a lot, and you can use what he does to make your performance better. So take those study guides and whatnot and then just rock it out. On the strength of these 2 interactions, going to see him in his office wouldn't have been that helpful, anyway.

It's all just a story, Heather. About real people with all the same impulses as you and me. Think of them as characters and you'll find it all much more interesting.

Oh, and try to psych him out. Figure out what he cares about, and give it to him in heaps. See what that does. I'm betting it brings the scores up.

If nothing else: it's April. One more month and you can move on to something better. He sounds burned out, but he'll have to do this again next semester, and the one after that, and...

Fiona said...

Oh, and *squish* for your kind words. So nice.

Rachel said...

I just wanted to say that I read Fiona's message, and somehow I read the word HERPES rather than heaps. For a second I was left wondering, "Is Fiona suggesting Heather somehow manage to give him herpes? How would that work? Slip it into some cookies?"

I'm glad she wasn't.

ANYway, good for you and your assertiveness. It's difficult to question someone who is in a position of power, and even if it wasn't the most productive conversation ever, perhaps it will make him stop to think the next time you (or other students) have a question.

Fiona said...

Oh, Rachel. Now I'm all: slip some herpes into the cookies.

That's going to stick in my brain all night.

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