It’s OK to disagree with the professors

Let me say that the University has given me more than just an education. The University learning atmosphere has challenged and questioned my goal in life by allowing me to choose a major with which I will be happy. Because of this scholarly quest, I will give credit to those instructors who do their best by pushing students to fulfill their greatest academic capabilities.

Teachers who challenge us in life prepare us for the academic and professional world. Especially at the University, I have been influenced by many professors who do more than what they are paid for. They put in that extra effort to see that their students grasp the invaluable knowledge they willingly pass down.

Words cannot express how much appreciation I have for the caring professors who sacrifice their time to stay after class hearing any student questions. I could write a book explaining the positive experiences I have had with respected University professors.

However, the intent of this column is to explain the balance system of the esteemed “good” professor compared to those professors some students avoid taking a class with because of their negative reputation. I feel that my experiences with certain instructors along with countless other students has led me to conclude one end of the balance beam is higher than the other.

The point is, I feel that out of every ten professors I have had, at least six of them discourage any input from the student within classroom discussion. This math of course is unproven and may seem false to other students and professors alike. I am not saying that all professors are bad.

In fact, I am fortunate to have had as many good professors in the previous semesters. I only think the ratio of truly dedicated professors are outweighed by those professors who limit the voice of concerns, comments and questions students want to address through open discussion in a class. One would argue that a professor may not necessarily show freedom of the classroom through a certain discussion format, but rather is dedicated to his or her relation with the student and their opinions in other ways, such as holding extended office hours or promptly answering e-mail questions their students may send. This is true, and I realize that learning comes in different shapes and sizes.

Whether it is the Socratic Method of learning, where one student is assigned to one assignment or the traditional lecture format so many students on campus are accustomed to, I feel the balance of freedom in the classroom is leaning too much in the negative, opposite direction. Even though there are many forms of learning, one key aspect of discussion in a classroom is through professors and students debating issues, even if that professor thinks he or she is always right. Even though an educated individual earns the title of “professor,” does that give them the right to no longer be the student?

I feel the need to point out this open-minded or biased professor uneven ratio only because I have had a fair share of problems with professors I have disagreed with in the past. I also write this because I have heard too much from friends and others suggesting that “Professor Smith is a vicious, relentless, tough son of a gun. Never take their class.” I feel it is important for the students who have ever felt the sting of this abuse of power some professors have to open their hearts and ears. Therefore, this column and my beliefs cry out for the freedom of classroom discussion you may have felt needed to be addressed a long time ago.

I challenge you to speak out this semester and to stand true and make sure your opinions are heard in a classroom where you feel the professor has a negative distaste towards any objections held from the student. Be bold in your guesses when a professor asks for your input. Sir Isaac Newton once said, “No great discovery was made without a bold guess.” Do not be afraid to disagree with a professor, and do not be afraid to speak out in the classroom for what you feel is right, even if you look like a donkey’s behind in the end. Without trial and error, what is the point to life of discovering new things if one never guesses, be it a right or wrong objection?