Posted in Opinions

Take some Ls in your blame game with your prof

These common complaints about teachers are excuses that halt your growth at others’ expense

Image Credits: Carolyn Yip

Success is a touchy subject, and this is only compounded when your gambles for success cost a few thousand dollars per year, followed by gross investments of time. It’s only natural for perceived obstacles to frustrate you — and when it comes to your less-successful courses at SFU, sometimes those obstacles appear to be the people who ostensibly want your success.

When you do poorly enough to miss out on that scholarship or passing grade, it’s very easy to place the blame in your prof or TA’s lap. Sometimes, this is even a pretty reasonable way to feel. Sometimes, it’s a gigantic load of crap.

There are very real and good reasons to criticize your teachers, and then there are cringe-worthy reasons. The latter are designed to accommodate your self-righteousness about your 13-week study break, and the lust for excitement that made you hide from all your lectures in the spiritual depths of your hangovers.

I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s shitty experiences where legitimately unfair factors screwed them over. But some complaints are just a bit entitled, and that’s something to be conscious of.

“They wouldn’t bump me up to the next letter grade”

I mean, I get the frustration if it’s the difference between a pass and a fail, and it’s not wrong to ask depending on the circumstances. But if you’re salty about it, you need to put it into perspective: 2% between your grade and the next might not seem like a lot, but on grading scales where the difference between letters is often roughly… 5%, no wonder they don’t feel inclined to bump you up.

Nobody’s obligated to ‘be a bro’ and bump you up. Missing out on scholarships might suck, but you need to consider that thousands of students pass through this system regularly; boosting some people’s grades and not others isn’t fair or sustainable in the long run.

“I can’t understand anything they say through their accent”

If you’re doing everything you can to rectify this problem – sitting as close to the speaker as you can, asking for clarification once in a while, going to office hours to talk in a one-on-one setting where it’s easier to bypass the potential issue things like that, reading your textbook — sure, complain. But in a staggering number of cases, the ‘problem’ is not as bad as people present it as.

No, a lot of time, it’s just a convenient way for people to make fun of someone they don’t like. So many classmates have tried to commiserate with me on how impossible it is to learn in so-and-so’s lecture or tutorial that I sometimes wonder if I’m watching this shit with subtitles or something, because apparently I didn’t notice that my prof secretly stopped speaking English in favour of whalesong.

“It’s just so boring”

I’m sorry, but your naive dreams of only studying things you like with people you like in university should’ve been on life support ever since the first time SFU’s online resources tried, and failed, to seductively whisper “WQB” into your ear while fingering your wallet.

School is boring. This is not new. It shouldn’t be boring, but have some sympathy: there’s honestly only so much a professor can do to make certain material exciting. If every prof had to be a master comedian or a bestselling author to get their job, our course selection would be much more sparse than it is now.

I’ve taken the time to outline these because until you recognize these icy realities of academia, you work through them. Complaining is healthy, but not to the extent of just being a dick to people without trying to improve yourself. These are lifelong obstacles in and out of university that you have to deal with, and sooner or later you won’t be able to find catharsis on SFU Confessions.