Monday, September 14, 2009

Category Four

Anyone who has been to college can tell you that professors fit into several categories. Category one is the great, but difficult professors—the ones who bring out the best in their students. Category two is the rotten professors who are either too tenured or too under-the-radar to get fired. Category three is a hodge-podge of everything from the “hot” professor (see the chili pepper ratings of “Rate My Professor”) to the disorganized Medieval Lit. professor who forgets his lecture notes to the non-English speaking statistics professor who always says “for-e-wing?” It’s week six of the semester before anyone realizes that “for-e-wing” means “Are you following what I’m doing?”

This semester Ariel has a professor that belongs in a category all his own. He teaches Linear Algebra. (Yeah, I know, anyone who takes Linear Algebra is asking for trouble, but Ariel is Ariel and chose to major in Applied Mathematics, which is totally asking for a trip through a ring of the Inferno.)

Back to the prof. Ariel told me that he’s “ancient—he’s older than Opa, Nana, or Papa.” I don’t think her grandparents will be amused that someone older than them is “ancient.” (Though my mom will gleefully notice that her name was not included so she’s still young.) At any rate, the prof, let’s call him Dr. Farmer—to protect the innocent as well as the guilty—teaches by doing math proofs on the board. This seems legitimate to me; after all, it’s math class. But, he does it, without explaining what he’s doing, nary a word. And then during question time, he answers questions that weren’t even asked. Ariel surmised that his dual hearing aides must not be working.

Of course, the pi├Ęce de resistance is that Dr. Farmer likes to re-name his theorems. For example, the name “Theorem 3.05” is too boring. Instead, he’s renamed it “Theorem Dawg.” Yep, he has a heavy Southern accent. According to Ariel, all the students gaped at one another, assuming this was a joke. It’s not. Whenever he refers to Theorem 3.05, he calls it “Theorem Dawg.” He makes up similar names for the other theorems. Now Ariel dreads taking Advanced Linear Algebra and mistakenly saying to her classmates, “Now if we use Theorem Dawg and Theorem Cow, we can solve the matrices and apply this to vectors.” I guess that’s the horror of Animal Theorems. Yet, another reason not to major in math.


  1. Hmm, there is another book character for you Miss Connie. Him and that guy with the cake at the coffee shop in Wilmington:)

    Grace Duke

  2. I think he falls under category two.

    Of course, you've forgotten several major categories including old professors who don't take their students seriously and young professors who walk on eggshells around you because they're afraid you'll keep them from getting tenure.

  3. I think all my professors are in category one.

  4. I wonder what category MY teacher falls into... Heh heh.