As I talked in a small kitchen late the other night with a couple friends from freshman year, we reminisced about our super enlightening seminar at the end of spring quarter. We joked about the possibility of me writing an article exposing my strong dislike for the instructor and the idea sunk in little by little.
I say “super enlightening” in a sarcastic tone, but in all honesty, I learned a lot from the course specifically due to the amount of discord I had with the teacher.
Everyone has had a bad experience with a teacher. With the number of years we attend school, it’s impossible not to have those encounters. It’s really easy to be pessimistic.
I know I was. I cried in class on more than one occasion, but in hindsight, I’m better for it.
The first day of the seminar was great, as the topic sounded extremely engaging and the professor appeared to be very intelligent and knowledgeable on the subject.
The next week, I was extremely disappointed to find this was not the case, and instead, leaving the class on the verge of tears.
To my chagrin, I was faced with three hours of being treated like a complete and utter imbecile by someone who I quickly lost all respect for. One response to a subjective, open-ended question, was quickly met by disapproval. A commentary on a difficult philosophical text led to a snarky grin.
Three-hour blocks every Tuesday for 10 weeks sounded like absolute hell.
Not to mention the assignments flooded in almost immediately and were far too difficult for the level of the class. In hindsight, I could have had a far more optimistic mindset, but you can’t change the past.
I look on it now, not with bitterness (OK, maybe a little bitterness), but with the perspective that such an unaccommodating situation taught me how to deal with an ignorant and unagreeable authority figure.
Sometimes the awareness of one’s own intelligence inhibits the ability to manage one’s behavior with said intelligence, resulting in ignorance. It was without question that my instructor was extremely knowledgeable, but instead of attempting to teach me in a constructive manner, he instead chose to argue over matters of opinion and means of thought.
Initially, I chose to drop the class. This proved futile as all others seminars were full, and so I was forced to stick it out. Every day I fought the urge to scream at this man for being rude to me and my peers. Girls in the class would bite their tongues each week as he argued points which came off as offensive. I stood up and walked out on more than one occasion.
Yet through all these seemingly unbearable classes, I came out on the other side more tolerant and more mature.
Dealing each week with an authority figure who I had no respect for was challenging at best. Coming to class each day prepared for battle was never enjoyable, but through countless arguments, I learned that it was best to take a deep breath and think thoroughly about whether or not it was worth my time, energy, and sanity to push back.
I learned you will not always respect those in a position of authority. Thus, it is better to take the high road (the majority of the time) and bite your tongue, because, eventually, you’ll be done with that individual and onto bigger and better things.
This is not to advise letting the said person walk all over you. If the disrespect is more than you can bare or is detrimental to you or others (such as any form of harassment), please say something. You don’t have to let someone take advantage of you, and it is always OK to stand up for yourself. I did so often in this class.
I simply learned that I can’t always fight fire with fire, disrespect with disrespect. Sometimes it’s far more beneficial, and far easier, to allow the ignorant their opinion and to choose your battles wisely.