(written ~3 weeks ago, probably, but unfortunately a recurring theme)

Although I have at some point been frustrated by all of my professors, the grammar teacher is the class that I would never go to again if it weren’t required. She teaches like she’s tenured and a semester away from retirement, but since she’s in her early 40s and Russian, neither of those things is true.

On the first day of class, she told us that we would be studying morphology first semester and syntax second semester. We informed her that every single person in the class is only here for a semester, which completely blew her mind. She complains about it every class, telling us how we’re not going to finish the course, and she’s never had a student not stay the whole year before. Like it’s unusual for people to do a one-semester study abroad. I wanted to raise my hand and suggest that it was probably just her lack of awareness that prevented her from noticing when half of her class disappeared in December, but so far I’ve held my tongue.
When she showed up to class yesterday (15-25 minutes after the rest of us, because we come on time), she jumped into some exercises that we had done the week before (this class consists of working through a textbook, line by blessed line, for two hundred pages). “Great,” I thought, “A little review never hurts.” Nope. Turns out she just didn’t mark down where we’d left off last time. Once it became clear that we were in danger of spending the entire class (well, the 75 minutes that she’d bothered to come to) doing the same exact exercises as the week before, a student finally spoke up. The teacher (I guess she has a name, but whatever) said it wasn’t possible that we’d already finished that chapter, so I showed her my notes from the previous week, forcing her to accept that it was. This happened again the following week; when I told her that we’d finished that chapter two weeks prior, she muttered something about not having “managed to write down” where we left off.
The professor goes as slowly as she possibly could, giving the impression that she’s stalling. She keeps getting the bit between her teeth and taking off down the path of some grammar topic that everyone in the class has been completely clear on for, you know, years. It’s like some weird sort of behavioral conditioning, where, for instance, the word “meat” triggers a rant that starts with the fact that meat is a non-count noun (about which there was no doubt, since it’s also non-count in every language represented in our class), but snowballs into an EIGHTEEN MINUTE lecture on concrete, abstract, non-count, and collective nouns. Similarly, someone will make one small grammatical mistake–misconjugate something, for instance, or give an adjective the wrong ending–and the teacher stops the entire class to explain the WHOLE ENTIRE DECLENSION CHART. Which easily takes up half the period to deal with an error that the student probably would have self-corrected if she had said “Dative ending!” Heck, at this level, a raised eyebrow should suffice.
It’s taken for granted in Russia that neither schools nor students can afford a class set of books. Since fortune smiled on Russia and gave her very lax intellectual property laws, the typical solution is to give the students one copy of the book and have them each run off a copy–sort of the puff-puff-pass of copyright infringement, if you will. Well, the guy who wound up with the first book, who is a former Marine (that seems relevant), could not quite wrap his head around this and just held onto the book all week, sure that he’d misunderstood. So we showed up to class the following week with no more copies than we had left with. The professor went into a tirade about how we weren’t going to finish even the first-semester curriculum at this rate, because she can’t assign us homework until we have copies of the book. But this is a problem for every teacher in the department, and so far she’s the only one who has dealt with it by throwing a tantrum. Here’s what the other professors have done:
The vocabulary professor e-mails us the necessary pages each week before class.
The conversation professor brought in a class set of the books and let us reimburse her/the department directly, so we now have our personal copies.
The literature professor either has us photograph the pages we’ll need at the end of each class, or she gives one student a copy and instructs him to distribute it by hook or by crook (usually he posts the photos to the class Facebook group).
When she finished her rant (at this point class was over–just because she shows up late doesn’t mean she’s going to stay late to finish the lesson), we told her to assign us the homework she had planned, and we would find a way to do it. She proceeded to assign us five fill-in-the-blank sentences. I timed myself–it took well under a minute to complete.

Last week, when, once again, she left in the middle of class to go get a dictionary to look up something that she really, really should have known the answer to, my classmate Eddie said, “Quick, someone lock her out.” At some point, we’re going to have a revolution.

Here’s a tip for Profprof, which is what I have taken to calling the professors that I don’t like enough to remember their names.

Reducing teacher talk time

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