Posted by: r.m. | May 7, 2009

sad musings of a frustrated professor

It has taken me much longer to grade my student papers than would be required if I were efficient and able to concentrate. Instead, I had to stop several times and calm my nerves by reading a newspaper and then calm my nerves even further by reading a bit of literature (in this case, Dostoyevsky).

The level of the homework assignments submitted by my students was insulting.

Insulting to me as their professor who has spent hours planning the lectures and hours commenting on their drafts and additional hours contemplating on how best to engage the students and have them appreciate the power and beauty of words. I am sure I can improve as an instructor; I have no doubts in that regard.

But the quality of these assignments was also insulting to the students themselves.  It leads me to  seriously wonder if my students even care to learn, even care to improve their writing skills, and if their level of concern is so low, then what do they want to do with their college degree?

Or are their times so tight, their lives so full, the pressure in their lives so high, that they lack the mental energy to learn in their classrooms? What is taking up their time and causing them such anguish and angst?

When did it happen that universities became a breeding ground for future employees and no longer a place of learning?  Degrees are gotten, paid for, for the sole purpose of obtaining a job, and that job is obtained for the sole purpose of societal prestige and a sufficient income.  What an extraordinarily sad state.

And have I become merely a cog in that vapid machine?


  1. 3 words for you habibi: جيل حيفا وحبي

    so says my friend ayah…

    you are not a cog. you are beautiful and amazing. and your students will one day regret that they did not take learning from you seriously.

    but you, for now, must think of yourself as just planting seeds. you may not know whether these trees grow or not.

  2. what a beautiful comment ya marcy

  3. The university would have us be cogs. And there are professors who accept this, and churn out the students you are describing. But I can remember the professors who had a marked influence on my life and can count them on one hand; the others I don’t recall at all. The planting seeds analogy is a very nice one! The future “harvest” is multifold, inch’allah.

  4. its not your fault – dont be upset, all you can do is try and spread your energy, bala shakk some ppl will pick it up:).

  5. Dear Rania,
    only now I understand that I am not alone in this situation! In my case, I don’t want to talk about reports, but about the lectures in the classroom.
    In the morning, I am prepared and ready like a soldier, they are still asleep! I am continuously hunting closed eyelids to bring them back, also struggling to motivate them. I’m sweating, they are snoring. They look yet don’t see! They listen but don’t hear! Dropping a joke, to shake them? It succeeds … just for a while, and dreaming resumes! Sometimes, it is frustrating for me, forcing me to become this mere cog, an anonymous careless instructor giving a lecture to anonymous careless students? No. I am not here only to give information, but to live and interact with my students. To communicate and to share. I don’t give up, and I am still seeking this kind of relationship, at least for the couple of students who are here for that.

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