Dear professors of UC Santa Barbara,
Hi. As a student at UCSB for four years, I’ve learned a lot. Some of you are brilliant lecturers who have deepened my understanding of the subjects you teach. Conversely, some of you couldn’t teach a fish to swim and made me dumber for having taken your shitty classes. But hey – one can’t expect every teacher to be a winner, right?
Anyway, this open letter addresses a problem I’ve had. Certain professors at UCSB transform their lectures into soapbox rants against the conservative American element, preaching needlessly and tying their arguments poorly into the class’s proper subject matter.
Most of my professors here have been liberal. It’s odd I would be so certain of my professors’ political leanings, as I have never taken a class within the Political Science, Global Studies or Law & Society Depts.
Naturally, a college education should provide insight a student can use to improve his or her life, whether that student studies letters or numbers. If what we learn here has no bearing on the real world, then my fellow students and I are surely wasting our time and money at college. The professors who make these connections with the real world solidly deserve commendations, for they truly grasp the essence of a good education: drawing on the knowledge amassed in a certain field of study and improving the world by helping a new generation of thinkers. However, like I said earlier, some professors lack this understanding.
Herein lies my problem.
Students don’t pay for lectures about why the president is an asshole when they should be teaching them how to make a macaroni sculpture or interpret Dostoyevsky. Neither should they expect to learn about a professor’s bowel movements. These subjects, unless properly qualified by the lecture, should remain in the professor’s out-of-class lives. If a professor approached a student on the street and attempted to persuade him of his political opinion’s validity, the student could walk away. Students in class, however, are a captive audience. Leaving or ignoring the tirade could mean missing some vital piece of class material – thus, these rants are an abuse of the professor’s power.
Don’t disregard this letter as the bitching of some Republican-voting, hang-’em-high conservative. I am also liberal, and this is a liberal’s bitching. Generally, I agree with the professor’s messages. But this doesn’t mean I want my liberal politics to intrude upon my class time. And if this is how a liberal reacts to these stunts, imagine how they would strike a conservative kid – who has every right to a good education a liberal like me does.
If my argument doesn’t add up, think about it like this.
I like “The Simpsons.” It makes me laugh. But if Homer and Marge stopped mid-episode, turned to the screen and started into a ten-minute, joke-free dissertation on why I had a responsibility to protect a woman’s right to choose, I’d turn the TV off, even though I’d agree with the message. Like “The Simpsons” strives to be funny, professors should strive to educate – only we can’t turn bad professors off when they malfunction.
Please stop. Teach what you got your degree in and don’t force students to weed through your political opinions to find the actual education. If impressing your political opinions upon students’ minds means so much to you, then go back to school and become a professor of a subject that better allows you to sneak rants into lectures. If politics still demands a chunk of your lesson plan, lurk in during your colleagues’ lectures. UCSB has some masterful lecturers, who effortlessly jump from lecture to political topics, neither straying too far off topic nor damaging their credibility as a teacher. Learn from them. And if none of these work, quit teaching and go be a street mime. They can’t talk; you clearly shouldn’t.
So if you select few promise to stop this abuse of my time, I promise to be in class, ready to learn. Deal?
Daily Nexus opinion co-editor Drew Mackie hated the episode about Marge’s abortion.