The Boomerang Debate

Proposition: The relationship between UCU students and professors is way too close

CON By Ivo Dimitrov

UCU thrives because of its teaching methods. Every single student has consciously chosen small classes, a personal approach, and interactive discussions – isn’t this the first thing you read on the UCU website? It’s what distinguishes us from the UU’s factory approach, with its gigantic plenary lectures and teachers unable to attend to individual students. We know our professors and understand what they aim for and require of us. At the same time, they know how we think, what we hope to achieve in a particular course, and can adjust their teaching style to our needs. This results in greater efficiency and helps us understand the material more thoroughly. Just look at the numbers –80% of us graduate within 3 years.

Now some would say that we abuse this “power” to get extensions and higher grades, and that a good sense of authority is needed to teach us discipline. But doesn’t this underestimate the professor’s ability to asses each particular situation? Most teachers here are painfully aware of how much effort students put into a course, and what problems they may encounter while studying and doing research. When we approach them, they are can give advice and assess which measures will help us in getting the most out of the course. Extensions are justified sometimes, and when they are not, we simply get a no.

On top of all this, a good relationship with your teacher gives you the liberty to express your opinion freely in class, even if it means criticizing what you’ve just been taught. Isn’t this mutual discourse the driving force behind all academics? A small, but risky comment here and there makes all the difference between an authoritative Soviet style education, and the independent learning spirit of UCU.

PRO By Sofia Banzhoff

UCU students are too close to their professors, and this state does not go very far in promoting maturity and independence. Sure, it can be nice to view your professor as an older and wiser friend, but does that promote an efficient learning culture? We’ve all had that teacher in high school who made students cry on a regular basis – now I’m not saying we should revert back to bygone centuries, but wasn’t that the one class everyone did their homework for?

At UCU, things can be very different. Didn’t write your essay because you couldn’t kick the habit of watching TV series all night? Ask for an extension – since you know your professor well, you also know which BS excuse to use. Partied it up all night, then showed up to class definitely hungover, possibly still drunk? The professor will understand – he’s one of us, after all.

Whereas if your professor was an eminent, slightly eccentric figure – looking a bit like Einstein, except that he generally keeps his tongue where it belongs, and seeming a lot more aloof – you’d think twice about starting the second season of Homeland or whether the ASC toga party was truly going to be the event of the year.

Sure, with the student-professor relationship as it is, many of us feel more comfortable in contributing to class discussions, since the likelihood of being brutally shot down, or the fallacy of our arguments being exposed to our classmates is fairly small. But then again, we’ve all had that classmate who just wouldn’t stop talking about whatever was NOT relevant, and the professor who would let it go on until all the good sandwiches in Dining Hall were gone. And that cannot possibly be what you want, right?

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