A Guide to University Professor Types

They're here to teach you, whether you want them to or not

Written by Leo N.

The great difference between college and university, are the professors.

In the former, teaching is almost a part-time, on-the-side gig,which doesn't earn them a lot of money. The people that teach in a college are professionals that know their material really well (usually) and are working in the same field they are teaching you. What drives them, since it's clearly not the limited income, is their passion. Some of my best teachers were from college, but the college was unable to retain them, expecting much more work than they were getting paid for.

In a university, professors are working full-time for the school. They are doctors because they are masters of a theory, not because of actual field experience. This means that teaching you is their job and putting up with the endless hordes of ungrateful little bastards (me being one of them) probably has them hate their job as much as they hate their students. Some of them would rather spend more time working on their research than to baby-sit a class of clueless students. Others seem to make it a fun and wonderful experience. Either way, here are some of my encounters with faculty I have had, some good,some bad and, in some cases, I still have no idea what they were teaching.

1. Jabba The Hutt

This professor usually is of a size comparable to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Because of their sheer size, they tend to wear very bright, happy colours. This is either to pretend that they're cheerful people or because they hope to be more visible when they slowly cross a street, panting. I doubt, however, that incoming traffic will want to run them over--unless they were planning to completely total their vehicle. It'd be like ramming a whale.

Jabbas love what they teach because this is where their entire life revolves around, having absolutely nothing else in the surrounding area. These are the professors that former students from decades ago will say, "they still teach there?" before they will go into a rant about how insanely incomprehensible the course material was.

Though always cheerful, it does not necessarily mean that you’ll have much a clue as to what the course is about,however. Lectures will put you to sleep or have your mind drift off no matter how hard you try, and when the exam rolls around, you'll stare at the questions wondering what the heck they exactly mean, as each answer provided seems just as correct as the others. Any assignment will be dissected into the tiniest of components and marks deducted for just about everything. What you could normally get away with from another professor who has a family and (most importantly) a life, will be impossible with Jabba.

2. Bitter Ethnic

Their usual habitat is in the various social science programs, and seem to congregate en mass in the faculty of social work. In here it is generally safe to bash down on the oppressor--anyone who happens to be white, preferably male. It doesn't matter if the course or program you are in is all about equality and understanding. You are guilty until proven innocent and you will never be innocent for you will be blamed, like a stereotype, for all the crimes against humanity that your ancestors may have done. This regardless of whether they actually were there causing havoc to various minorities, or busy drinking wine in the shade, minding their own business.

Bitter Ethnic sometimes will pin the class against each other by using the colour of students' skin. She will use her own skin colour to justify her eye-for-an-eye modus operandi, especially if any of the students disagree with her view. If a student knows what they're talking about, she will call them"Eurocentric", so to belittle the student's knowledge and imply their ''whiteness''. Meanwhile, the student is an Iranian escapee that barely survived from the corrupt political tyranny that persecuted them.

Bitter Ethnic are just that... bitter. They've had a rough life of abuse and now they take out their anger any time they feel they are under attack. When students' complaints tend to receive the answer, "now you know how I feel," the best thing to do is to keep your mouth shut and make sure they notice you as little as possible. This is a sad and unfortunate teacher that instead could have been the walking example in society of how we should all be, inspiring generations of students.

3. The Gentle Nerd

These professors are rare, and seem to congregate infields like politics and history. They love their field. They love their course. They love their material. They manage to make the most tedious lectures ever--usually all about Canada's history or politics--actually fascinating and interesting. If you show some interest and try to talk as little as possible from out of your ass--a normal thing to do while in university--they’ll love you.

These are the best courses because just by showing up,listening to the lecture and writing down some key notes,you can easily pass with great marks any of the exams or assignments. The professor doesn't care whether you’re white, black, gay or think that shagging goats is cool. As long as you show enthusiasm for the course, are respectful and do well, he'll love you like one of his own for finding his material interesting. And usually their material is a reflection of their life.

4. The Elitist Pompous Arrogant Fuck Doctor

That's right: doctor. And don't you forget it. Their field revolves around psychology and this places them at a superior level compared to you. They understand human nature and see you as a primitive mammal. You'll then learn all about things that you already covered in biology class back in high school and learn to do pointless exercises to collect data. The professor will speak to you--or the class--like you have the combined IQs of amoebas in a Petri-dish and act like they could be doing better things with their time than to answer your puerile questions. Meanwhile you'll try to figure out the relevancy of a three hour lecture on the absorption of light by the eye and how it will ever matter in your entire life.

You know how one generally takes a class in, say, Algebra and thinks, "I will never, ever use any of this material in my life" yet somehow, some of it, always manages to creep back and prove useful? Well, not in the classes of the Elitist Pompous Arrogant Fuck Doctor. The exams will ask you questions on material that was irrelevant already while you were studying it, cover portions of the book that had never been covered in a lecture and be written in such a way that you'll be confused as to what the question is actually asking. Half the time questions will be removed from the exam because nobody got any right. And you’ll be sure to learn lots about Freud, a buffoon whose obsolete theories nobody takes seriously anymore, yet dominate fifty percent of your final exam.

Unfortunately these classes are generally mandatory and some people claim they are designed to reduce the number of students that will reach the end of the program. This is so the school does not have to waste more resources on the years that follow while still making a hefty profit on the drop-outs. The key to survival is to get cue cards and start memorizing the material--material you'll forget twenty-seconds after you’ve finished your final exam and run, screaming, out of the room.

5. The Doesn't Wanna Be Here

And really, they don't. It's not exactly clear where they’d rather be, either. They know what they're talking about and will give lectures as if that's just the way things are, in a matter-of-fact type of way. But other than that, zero effort. Maybe just a tiny amount of enthusiasm. Sometimes they'll slip and mutter something bitter about their wife leaving them "one year, eleven months, fourteen days ago, but who's counting?!"

The disadvantage of having this professor is that he’s strict because he's too busy dwelling in his own misery. So he'll be sure to share his misery with you whenever he’ll mark your papers by finding everything wrong with them, including how you wrongly placed commas or how you've underlined, rather than italicized, something in your bibliography. He single-handedly maintains the red-pen manufacturing sector in business.

Oddly enough, if you thank him for his "constructive criticism" of your paper, which now looks like some Goth slit their veins all over it, he'll feel guilty and act all nice to you for years to come. Very bizarre.

6. The Regurgitist

Sometimes you find yourself in a class with the most idealistic professor ever. It's not that he's a bad guy,but the problem is that you soon learn that the only view valid in the class is his own. He's also really well-spoken and so well versed in his subject, that any attempt at striking a different view, will have him ramble stuff that sounds valid but you can't understand or prove, leaving you rather confused as to just how you’ve been owned by him.

The best thing to do is to type as fast as he lectures without asking any questions. When the assignment is due,you simply search for the keywords from his question in the endless pages of notes you've collected. Then, you cut and paste his lecture right back into the assignment. The professor will love your paper. You'll get the most amazing mark in the entire class and he will personally compliment you for such a clear perspective you’ve outlined and the great view you've explained. He will also become your best ally when dealing with school bureaucracy because he likes you for thinking just like him. Don't worry about it too much.

7. The Maybe She'd Like a Sexual Correlation

Welcome to the English department, where everyone is so much better than you simply because they worked hard at writing a thesis paper on Heart of Darkness, came up with convoluted theories to its sub-meaning and are now doctor sin English. Don't point out that their life-work would be useless in the real world and that their degree is only second to Sociology for its stupidity.

Classes run by these types are everything but fun. If you're taking a Creative Writing class, you’ll soon discover that you are allowed to be as creative as you wish as long as you follow all the rules of English and those that the professor thinks are particularly awesome that day. If you're taking "Literature of Sexuality and Women," you'll think you're in a social work class run by some feminazi and you'll have to sit there and say, "this stuff is so awesome," because a woman wrote it 200 years ago. It doesn't matter if this stuff is complete shit. What matters is who wrote it and when, so suddenly it's golden. Sadly, being vocal about your thoughts on literature that is crap is the equivalent at saying that you think Babylon-5 is better at a Star Trek Convention: you'll get lynched.

The best way to survive this course is to find a sexual correlation with the material you're reading. Does the book discuss the decapitation of Marie Antoinette by the French Revolution? It means it is the castration of men and his removal from apparent power. The giant Polyphemus attacks Ulysses? It's a huge penis. A dramatic tale of a moon landing? It's sperm, spreading through the universe. You name it, there's some cock and balls in there. And they’ll love you for it--maybe a reflection of what little action they're getting in between office hours.

8. The Marxist Wannabe

Sporting an iPod and a cool leather jacket, he's usually teaching a class that deals with politics, revolving around women's rights, unions and other stuff that is so utterly fascinating that makes watching water evaporate so last year. All the material generally is stuff that puts the boot to the face of those evil capitalist scumbags. At least, that's the idea you get. The course is so confusing and convoluted that even the T.A. assigned to mark your papers and run your tutorial will have little a clue as to what the course is about. Lectures usually involve the professor making use of gigantic words that require about fifteen minutes each to try to figure out the spelling of just one of them.

If by any chance you're confused about the point he’s making--and you will be--and you decide to ask him a question, you may as well keep your mouth shut. He’ll start a long ramble that will have you think that you’re either too stupid for this course or maybe, just maybe,he hasn't a clue himself what this class is really about and is making it up as he goes along. Chances are it is the latter and he's really good at it.

9. The Mummy

This one as well is usually found in the English department. This professor is ancient. She was already old when Plato came up with his theory of the cave that inspired a series of movies starring Keanu Reeves. She looks so dried up that every time she's at the New York Museum of Natural History, the curators keep putting her back in the Egyptology department.

Unlike #7, this professor is actually very nice. She respects and admires your work but is never shy of pointing out how to better it. If you show promise, she tries to make you improve even more because for her, the written word, is something she has lived her entire life by, and each one of the pieces she will discuss in class,has inspired her in ways that perhaps the students will never understand. She's an awesome person to talk to once the class is over and done with.

10. The Child of Spocks

There are two famous Spocks in the world. One is Doctor Spock and he's a famous expert on children and how to raise them: I've read his books and they're a somewhat tedious read. The other usually sits on the bridge of the Enterprise and, aside from not laughing at any joke and never sporting an erection for Uhura, you can always count on him to point out the obvious, by stating things like, "it would appear that we're under attack," after the Klingons have already blown a hole the size of Jabba The Hutt on the main saucer section.

Combine the two and you get The Child of Spocks. This is the professor that, usually teaching a social science,has been so traumatized by the shit she's seen while working in the field, that she's managed to build an emotional wall that now is permanently raised. In other words, it's "shields up!" all the time and you can never beam aboard. So detached they are from any human feelings that they were able to even write a book to explain the use of theories that need to be applied when dealing with a client. The book is a drag, assuming you can actually understand the overly academic syntax, and is written as if people were automobiles and this was the catalogue of spare parts.

The Child of Spocks will be very resentful against you if, in an attempt at making your life easier, you explain her gigantic chapter on Post Modern theory in less than a paragraph using Legos.

11. The Recently Hired

You can tell a professor has been recently hired because they’re happy, excited and totally thrilled to be there. In fact, they are so excited by this possibility of being a teacher, that unlike their colleagues who are now so jaded and no longer delusional, The Recently Hired will go out of his way to make class fun and exciting. Or at least, their perception of what is "fun" and "exciting."

Unfortunately the professor does not understand that the students don't care and would rather just sit there and have the professor explain things as la Gentle Nerd,rather than involve everyone in group projects that amount to absolutely no learning and plenty of annoyance.

I cannot begin to explain how tedious group projects are. The professor thinks that these projects build skills for the real world. In the real world there are project managers and those that do not do their work are written-up or possibly fired. In school group projects, one person ends up doing all the work and much resentment is built between the students--and especially towards the professor who, much like The Wimp, lacks the balls to sound the whip to make things fair.

12. The Wimp

This professor is exactly that: a wimp. They know their material really well, but are so passive and have absolutely no skills when it comes to showing who is in control, that the students run all over them without much fuss. If that wasn't enough to make you wish you were carving your name with a rusty fork in your forearm instead, the professor speaks in a weak low voiced monotone.

This way of speaking is actually a powerful weapon in the hands of The Wimp, because it's the most effective way she can put an end to the raucous caused by the ungrateful little bastards who got stuck having to take her class. Your desire to be a rascal will soon vanish and in order to survive, your brain will swift into a gentle comatose, a self-preservation method used by the subconscious to prevent you from losing it completely.

So there you have it. There are probably more to be listed, depending on which field you find yourself enrolled in. At least in my case, while it may be true that the faculty puts the BS in my BSW, it doesn’t prevent me from putting the fac-u in faculty.