They love me. Not!

Maybe I’m unpopular. Or maybe I’m elite.


 

As a departmental chair, I feel it’s my duty to keep an eye on our department’s enrollments as the new school year approaches, but inevitably I pay special attention to the enrollments in my own classes, and I am dismayed to see that my section of Introduction to Literature is lagging far behind the others. One of my colleagues’ sections has already reached its maximum of 45 students; mine languishes at just nine.

Fortunately, we professors are trained in explaining things away. After all, the low numbers may have more to do with the time slot than anything else: mine is the only section that includes a class on Friday, and students hate coming in on Fridays. Or maybe it’s my reputation for demanding excellence which is keeping the students away. They think I’m “too hard,” but I know I that I simply have admirably high standards. Besides, by the time the first day of classes rolls around, all the sections will be full, so what does it matter?

But then another number catches my eye. That nine is after four students have dropped the course. Four students have dropped the course already and it hasn’t even started. Was it something I haven’t said yet?


 

They love me. Not!

  1. I’ll have to admit, when I took your first year English course I was cursing myself for having enrolled in a class that ate up so much of my time. You were known among students as being the toughest English proffie and often I would pour hours of time and energy into a paper only to have it returned with a mediocre grade. Another cruel technique you employed was giving us permission to rewrite the papers as many times as we pleased, assuming it was originally passed in on-time. Being the keener I was (and still am) I rewrote every paper until I received a minimum mark of 85%. What seemed like a generous marking policy at the beginning of the year led to much pulling-of-hair and gnashing-of-teeth by the end of it.
    But you know what? I learned from it. By the end of the year my writing skills had improved to the extent that I couldn’t believe the low quality papers I was pumping out at the beginning of the year. I am grateful for the effort -and it MUST have taken effort to get through those crappy papers- you put into honing my skills and preparing me for a life in academia.

    Cheers to you, good sir. And many thanks from beyond the classroom.

    Maria T.