Obesely Speaking

The brain and obesity

Good Teachers Do Not Take Attendance

Education is the only thing Americans pay for and try not to get. That's because Americans need to better understand what constitutes education and qualifies a person to teach. Read More

I always love your articles,

I always love your articles, Billi, and always look for your here and on facebook. I will say one thing, however... I was in junior college not long ago, and when the economy was doing badly, lots of people like me went back to school, and it was really hard to get into classes. Not only were more students enrolling, but they had to cut classes due to budget cuts. One reason attendance was an issue was that, if one student wasn't going to take the class seriously, then they wanted to make room for a student who would.

thank you for commenting....

and the compliments. But this underscores my point. If a student is not going to be serious about a class he should NOT be there, and use his time for something he feels more passionate about. My point is a teacher cannot make him take the class seriously by putting him through the motions. School is SO expensive, which is ALL the MORE reason people in JCs and smaller colleges should demand that they hold themselves to high level of excellence. We owe ourselves and our children that.

And another thing.. the United States having the NERVE to make budget cuts in education with all the money they waste on way.... UNBELiEVABLE!

"If students are tuning out,

"If students are tuning out, you are not a competent lecturer." Yep, this is the only possible explanation. That, or students are not taking their education seriously, and are making a conscious decision to not be engaged with the class, no doubt because they are spoiled, entitled brats. I suppose you are trying to be a provocateur, but this is pretty silly.

Thanks for commenting

I did not say that was the only possible explanation> I said there were one of two explanations, being in incompetent lecture is one. I also said, "Perhaps, you just do not want to learn a particular subject at this time. Then you should be some place else. You would not wear a biohazard suit to a lap dance. Likewise, why would you pay for an education and then try not to get it?"

"Spoiled entitled brats" Please tell me you are not a teacher. What an absolutely horrible attitude. There is no such thing as a spoiled entitled brat. There is such a thing a troubled kid who hides behind off-centered behavior because that's all they know. If you are a teacher, thank God I did get you during one of the vulnerable times in my life when some of the many great teachers I had made a difference.

Yes, I am trying to be a provocateur. However, I am trying to provoke thinking, not your ego. If you are a teacher. You really need to step back and ask yourself why am I really doing this? Teaching is a two way street, you should learn as much from your students as they learn from you. I cannot see that happening if you are passing useless judgments like spoiled and entitled.


"Why in the world would a student allow a teacher to boss them around? The teacher is not paying the student to be there. The student is paying to be there. Their fees and tuition go towards the professors’ salaries and benefits. The teachers work for the students..."

The "logic" here is painful. This would be akin to telling a police officer that you pay his salary via taxes, and that he therefore can't arrest you without your consent. Students are paying for the privilege to take a class. A class in which the instructor makes all the rules. The problem with our educational system is not "uninspiring" teachers; it's entitled, self-absorbed students who are being enabled by people like you telling them to treat the classroom environment like it was the returns department at Wal-Mart.

thank you again,

However, it is not the logic that is lacking here it is your misusage of the analogy. If you wanted to use that analogy this would be the correct way. It would be like telling a police officer that my taxes pay your salary therefore you do not have the right to: pull me over for driving while black, pull me over because you want to ask me for a date, use unnecessary force when arresting me, sexually assault me, physically or verbally assault me because I' gay, or refuse to take an accident report because the person who hit my car was white and I'm black and you're a racist. (I have had ALL of these experiences with the police, and Ironically, I have told them that my taxes pay their salary of course it fell on deaf ears because these people were not suited to doing their job, just as you are not suited to yours, which is why what I am saying is falling on deaf ears with you, if you are in fact a teacher.

Teachers, do not get to boss a student around. Get a pet, or a masochistic lover, but lick your emotional wounds on your own dime. Simply put, you are the help. Being bossed around by a teacher is like being bossed around by your housekeeper. Seriously? You have it all wrong. Your conceit has made you misunderstand the task your institution is paying you to complete. Students are not buying "a privilege of taking a class." Students are buying an education from an institution. And we can use Walmart as an analogy, if you like. The student's education is a shopping trip to Walmart. (Never been to a Walmart, cannot imagine why one would go there, for political and taste reasons alone, but I digress) Apparently Walmarts have pharmacies, so then a class would be like a prescription you take to the pharmacy. The teacher would be the pharmacist. The person with the prescription is not paying the pharmacist for the "privilege of having the prescription filled." They are paying for the prescription medication. If the prescription is not filled properly, then yeah, you take it back. If it is gross negligence you report the pharmacist.

The same is true with teaching. In your mind being in your class is a privilege. But that's your malnourished ego. Your job is to teach a specific body of information, which requires you to check your value judgments and your psychological needs at the door. No you do not get to make all of the rules. Are you on crack? Why should you get to make all of the rules? You are not the administration. A classroom is not a fiefdom and you are not a feudal lord. Find one of those online gaming groups where people pretend to be things to work that out. Change your meds, or get some meds, anything, but don't rage on some poor college kid's dime.

A teacher is a service provider, end of story, nothing more, nothing less in the terms of their employ. That is what you are paid to do. You are not hired to "provide privilege." The people who fought for higher education for all, the people who fund education, the parents who instill the value of education in their children are the privilege providers, not you. You are a vendor, one among many, many vendors. Many teachers, and I have had some EXCELLENT ONES, go way beyond providing a service, but that is because of who they are as human beings. It has nothing to do with the job they are hired to do. I doubt you are one of those people because of your asocial, self-referential attitude, assuming you are a teacher, but hoping you are not. The University should establish a global policy, NOT YOU. it should be two simple rules: do not prevent others from getting the service they contracted for, and do not place anyone in harms way. As for "entitled and self-absorbed" that is how I would describe you, and I pity your students.

Again, you were less than thorough in repeating what I said, which tells me you probably do not listen to your students (well of course you don't, because they don't matter, your classroom is all about you, and the privilege of being in your presence, right?) Anyway, I did not just place teachers at blame, I primarily blame cowardly students who do not confront teachers like yourself, and insist that you do your job correctly, or go to the administration and insist you be replaced by someone who can. Hopefully, one day, a student like myself, a parent, or a good department head, will walk into your classroom, and give you the lacking education that you so desperately need to begin to do your job efficaciously.

Finally, yes, I am guilty of encouraging students to practice self-agency in their education because their tuition and time entitles them to that. If you do not like what they want, tough, you're at work, it is not about what you want. It is about what you are paid to do, which is provide a service FOR THEM, not YOU.


Thanks for your response, which I found quite interesting to read.

You would be the one misusing the analogy. In the examples you provide - Driving While Black etc. - the policeman would be abusing his position because he was on a power trip, was a racist etc.; ultimately and in the simplest possible terms, doing something he should not do, doing something unethical. Calling students out for not paying attention, being disruptive, not attending class when there is a policy and so on, is completely appropriate and necessary. In the terms of the analogy, it would be arresting someone who actually had committed a crime.

I can well understand why you would not get this, since you claim there is no such thing as a self-entitled brat. To drive the analogy completely into the ground, you are imagining a world where there are no criminals at all (and presumably no need for policing/teaching?). I just find this a hopelessly naive viewpoint.

I also find it funny that you would say I was "less than thorough in repeating what I said", and then immediately turn around and say, of my students, "they don't matter, your classroom is all about you, and the privilege of being in your presence, right?" No REASONABLE person who read what I said closely would think I had this attitude. I am simply acknowledging that there is more than one kind of student, which I guess you are not able to do, for whatever reason. Has nothing to do with ego.

Nobody needs to teach me how to do my job, although it is mildly humorous that you have decided I must be a terrible teacher based on a couple of posts on your forum. (Hey, do you come to such rapid conclusions about the little darlings in your classrooms?) I certainly would not say, based on what little I know about you, that you are a bad teacher. A total pushover, most likely, but that is not the same thing as incompetence. In any case, I am observed every semester by faculty (glowing reviews)...

Here's the problem

In my opinion, you do not get to make the rules. What part of you are a service provider, nothing more, nothing less, don't you get? By presuming you have the right, to impose your will on your students is exactly like the police officer. You are abusing your position, and you can do that because you hold your students' grades as ransom. If you don't see that an unethical, which I am sure you do not, because creating a self-referential fiefdom with you as feudal lord is apparently comfortable for you. How now for you that you get glowing reviews.

You are the one that said being in your class was "privilege." There are all types of students but at the end of the day they are all human. What type of person dismisses a kid as a "spoiled entitled brat?" What does that even mean? I am guessing it means they don't have the same value system that you do. That's intolerant and judgmental; I don't like intolerance, and I leave judgment to God.

"A total pushover"? Seriously, why would you use that terminology? It says to me that you see the teacher and the student as adversaries. I just do not see it that way. How nice for you that you are observed by faculty and that you get glowing reviews. but in my world, glowing reviews from other faculty would have to be filed under, "who cares, they are being paid to be there as well."

Let you tell you about my "little darlings," Marky, now an MD, was a part of the team that took the Internet to Nepal, Casteezy, a rapper, and music producer, who uses music to work with challenged kids, Bianca, a mother, and film director, Joey, an executive for the Clippers, DJ, an MD/PhD at the NIH, Brian is in the NFL, Randy is gay porn star, Lupe is a coyote (smuggles immigrants across the border from Mexico) Stevia (who had her dad buy all the other students in my research class Apple lap tops cause they were poor work study students and she, like me, would rather be on crack than on a computer that's not a Mac; you would have surely thought she was spoiled and entitled because she missed a couple of classes to take her dad's jet to West Palm Beach for an Evian and Rose petal bath and few spa days at her favorite spa, cause she had to sweat a man off of her mind... it happens. However, she is now an MD, working for doctors without borders, EVERY ONE of my "little darlings" is successful at what they do. Although I am sure some would not consider them successful because their avocations lie outside the mainstream, e.g. Nadia, a professional dominatrix, who runs one of the best Subterranean dungeons in LA (or so I am told... never been there, and don't foresee ever going there LOL), and some are drug dealers, sex workers, actors and waiters, but whatever they do, they do it to death.

My goal with my students, when I choose to teach, is to make them understand that only God, as they see Her, has the right to judge them, and it does not matter what you do, what matters is how well you do it. Embrace your life, live it like its a movie because from the day the first prokaryote bacteria appeared in the primordial sea, until the last star flickers and falls from the heaven, there will have been in the history of the Universe there will have been only one me and one of them. It is on us to be that person to the 11th power. To me that is much more important than "do as i say, cause that's what I know." As teaching goes, my glowing review is that every student that I have ever had has made it a point to stay in touch in me.

I'll share some reviews from my students that I received that sum up what type of teacher I am, when I choose to teach a class. Teaching is just among the many things I do. I bore very easily, could never just teach all of the time. I always admire those that can find one thing and do it and be happy. I am just not that guy. Anyway the student reviews: "Dr. Gordon, wow, his class is like a good movie, you just never know what is going to happen next." "Dr. Gordon taught me that even though I come from poor white trailer trash, I matter." "Dr. Gordon, now there's a teacher you won't forget. He changed my attitude about blacks, mexicans, homo's, and what is okay and not okay to do to a girl on date. But I still say under no circumstances should two guys EVER share an umbrella." "Dr. G. how cool is that dude? He said that I pay money for being in school, and taking a class and not paying attention is like wearing a biohazard suit to get a lap dance. That's fucking brilliant! I haven't missed a class since. If somebody had just run this down to me in 9th grade, I might be at Stanford instead of UCLA."

As a scientist, I concur, I have no way of telling what kind of teacher you are from a couple of your posts. It doesn't matter what I think anyway; Im sure you do what you think is right. I just approach life, learning and people differently than you do. i don't need my students to see things my way, or conform to an environment that is comfortable for my mindset. I just need them to learn never to want what they do not have more than what they do have, and never to value what they cannot do more than what they can. But like I say, I rarely teach, and when I do, most often it is medical students, and the biggest task with them is teaching them that they are not superior because they are compatible with the litmuses of a racist, sexist, classist educational system. Namaste

But your opinion simply does

But your opinion simply does not enter into it: I DO get to make MOST of the rules. Making rules that you expect students to abide by is not an "abuse of power" like a corrupt cop. Honestly I don't believe that you believe that - since you strike me as a highly intelligent person - but if you do, I guess we are kind of speaking different languages. If you really believe instructors are service providers only, this would obviously lead to "I don't want to hear about that today. Go on YouTube, and play my band's new video." Hey, they're paying for it, right?

If I phrased it inaccurately, I apologize, but what I THINK I said is that being in a college classroom is a privilege; I did not mean mine in particular.

You consider the drug dealers "successful"? Wait, don't answer that. If nobody has the right to judge them but God, did they not get grades at the end of the semester? (Don't answer that one either.) ALL of your students keep in touch? ONE HUNDRED PERCENT?? It's been a few weeks since I taught Hamlet, but I seem to remember something about somebody protesting too much. But I don't doubt that your students liked you, or that you impacted their lives in a positive way. Did I say something to make you think I felt that way? I have some positive evals I could shoot your way, but I honestly don't keep them.

Anyway, thank you for your perspective. Take care...

A couple of final things.

1) Okay maybe not a 100% but I said easily 90% (the beauty of facebook)
2) I don't give grades. I give all of my students A's I don't believe in grades.
3) Hamlet? You teach literature? Well that explains a lot. Anybody that takes Shakespeare deserves what they get. Have at them.... LOL. I DETEST Shakespeare, and literature classes in general. I don't like to read, I like to write... just how I am.
4) I am sure you do have positive evals... I don't keep mine, (I'm publishing another book) and the publisher chose those as a PR thing, so they were in my mind.
5) Wait you have a band? So you're a dilettante musician? (haha) Just kidding. That's very cool, although I could not find your video on You Tube. You take care... thanks for your thoughts again.
6) Do you consider the CEO of Bristol Myers, Novartis etc successful? They're just drug dealers, only bigger and more ruthless. Again, I am not as judgmental as you are about things. The Big food companies push sugar, and white flour, those are drugs, they utilize the same circuitry in the brain. I think my students that deal drugs are very successful at it. Would not be my life choice, just like being a professor would not be my life choice, but to each his own.


Everybody gets an A? Hell, you SHOULD get nothing but positive evals! :) I do teach English. I am surprised that you have that attitude toward Shakespeare. I think Hamlet is the greatest thing ever written, and I am not even a Renaissance/Elizabethan guy. (And if you didn't like Dante, you DID have a bad teacher!) I WISH I was in a band; I meant hypothetically having a student insist we listen to his band's new song rather than hear me lecture about whatever the topic was for that day. Sorry if I wasn't clear. Yeah, I would tend to agree with you about drug CEOs, but that doesn't mean I think somebody pushing heroin is a GOOD person, and if that makes me "judgmental", I am comfortable with that.

One thing you said really struck a chord with me: I am also the first one in my family to go to college. It was very, VERY important to my father, and I am sure it affected my attitude toward school.

You certainly don't have to apologize for your candor. (I mean, if YOU have to apologize for that, I should probably be sending you flowers.) I thought what you said was interesting.

Finally, if you don't like reading literature, what about listening to it? If you are ever bored out of your mind, you can YouTube me at David Upset Rasnake. I understand if you are too busy, but in any case this is a way for me to sign off without being Anonymous any more. :)

Take care.


Figured you wouldn't see eye to eye with me on the grade thing. :-) I think, honestly, since I now like you, and have changed my initial opinion about you, and have thought about some of your misguided thoughts :-) maybe I got too personally involved with my students and lost perspective, because as "service provider" giving everyone an A because I felt they did a superior job for who they were did them a disservice. Also, it was not what the University hired me to do, so there are issues with that as well... OH MY I'M FLAWED :-)

I think heroin is a bad thing, but the larger issue is that we live in a society where people are in enough pain to choose heroin. Although having done heroin a couple of times (during my model phase... don't judge me) I can see how people get hooked on it....it's an awesome high, but you just know there is no such thing as a casual heroin dealer... although there are a LOT of employed heroin addicts in advertising that seem to maintain... of course I wasn't around them long enough to see how that played out. But my former students deal pot (lots and lots of pot... and cocaine) Honestly, I wish they did something else, but they need to do this, cause they grew up really poor and they need to find out that money won't fix what is really hurting them... I trust they'll come around. I had a similar job once for the same reasons (when I first came to Hollywood I was a high priced "escort" at one of those "exclusive" escort agencies, run by a Republican Congressman for rich old men and women who would give you a 1000 dollars for a kiss and a nickel for your soul. It took me 6 months before I realized that living a low life in high places was not going to fix what ailed me. I trust they will get to that point.

Yeah my parents were very big on education. "its the only thing you can get that white folks can't take away" I heard that a zillion times, that and "you're so black we have to feed you onions to find you in the dark" (my mother was black and father was an Indian--feathers, not dots) and our household was a major pigmentocracy and the only thing I could do to compete with my much more athletic, and much lighter-skinned older brother was get A's. And I became obsessed with getting A's.

I think it was more my attitude than the teacher. I really RESENTED having to come to the class once a week, but it was one of those classes where you had these obnoxious little quizzes every week... so to get an A I had to show up. I should probably revisit Dante. As for the band, TRUST ME, from having done several music videos, and many musicians be careful of what you wish for. :-)

Yeah you should send me flowers... everyone should... LOL., but I'm glad it was no harm/no foul

You know as a neuroscientist, I think you nailed it, I think my disdain for reading and hypergraphia is a neural network organizational thing. You ARE seriously into to teaching. Very cool Thanks... I will go to YouTube and check it out. This has been the most rewarding exchange I've ever had with a reader on my blog. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Hey, thank you for the kind

Hey, thank you for the kind words. I have found the exchange very rewarding too. And I am sorry it took me a while to respond. I just (finally) got my grades turned in for the semester. I hope you do get a chance to check out a video or two of mine, and that you find them interesting. (I come across as pretty sarcastic sometimes, but it's really intended as satire.) I will definitely continue to check out your writing, which I obviously find thought provoking. (I mean, God, how many words have I written in response to it at this point? LOL) Thanks again, and take care.

hey there

I can't wait to check out your videos... I have earmarked tomorrow for just that occasion. I was slammed and I was saving them as my treat... its a way of tricking out the dopamine in your brain.... I will holla back and let you know what I think. Glad you got your grades out. Thanks for the free education I got from you in our exchange. TTYS :-)


and obviously I get evaluated every semester. (Generally speaking, I get very positive evals from my students, although I won't say they are 100% positive. As I am sure you aware, if you ONLY get positive reviews from students, that is rightly considered a red flag. My students for the most part do not have a problem with me. You can believe that or not believe it.) The point is, I am doing my job, and am doing it well by the metrics my school uses, which relate to EDUCATING my students, as opposed to, well, whatever the hell it is YOU think I should be doing.

Regarding your "feudal lord" comment, could you BE more melodramatic? I write my own syllabi, which means that I make the VAST MAJORITY of rules in the class. Certainly the administration plays a role. (By the way, it's the administration that insists on a specific attendance policy at my school. So according to your silly argument, none of the people running my department know how to teach either, right?) But I will acknowledge that my word choice was not rigorous. My point was really not that I make ALL the rules, but rather that students make NONE of them. As it should be. On Planet Earth.

Anyway, thanks for trying to school me and let me know that if I'm not doing it your way, it's "tough". But my friend, you not some kind of feudal lord or king of the universe who gets to tell me how to teach!!! (See how silly that is?) For good or ill, I seem to be "getting away with it", so I suppose you are one for whom it is tough.

Also, if there's no such thing as a spoiled, entitled brat, then how can I be one?? Hmmm...


Are you trying to convince me or yourself? i get it. I struck a nerve. "if you get all positive reviews from your students its a red flag." Seriously? Where do you teach, Purgatory State? What kind of mindset is that? You are saying that if you can find a way to make the learning experience positive for every student in the class, something is wrong? i say if you can't make it something is wrong. And "students get to make NONE of the rules as it should be on planet earth." Do not try that dominant culture conceit with me. You do not get to say how things should be on planet earth. THAT attitude, right there, that self-righteous, I know best attitude is what I find objectionable.

I do not doubt that you are not doing your job according to the metrics your school uses, which is the metric many schools use, (BTW that metric is overseen by the department of labor, not the department of education, just saying... so educating or indoctrinating? I am NOT trying to tell you that you should try to do things my way, cause we both know none of those numbers are on your dial. I am merely saying, according to what you have explained here, the way you teach is contemptible in MY opinion. (We are not in YOUR classroom, so I get to have an opinion... just keep that in mine.)

Here is the difference between you and I. I do not need for you to do things my way to feel certain about my approach. You're not that important, I'm sorry, you just aren't. You keep mistaking me for someone who cares what you think, or is interested in hearing your justification for being what I consider to be a poor service provider and a bully. And I did not say you were a self-asorbed brat, I said that is how I would describe you, (NOT THE SAME THING) There is no such thing as a self-absorbed brat... because your usage of this makes something that exists in a specific place and time extend beyond that specific place and time. This type of pedantic-driven pedestrian thought process make me lose patience with you; be less emotional and more intellectual. If you were my student I would take you for a fruit smoothy, and bring a dictionary along, and some show and tell toys. :-)

Bottom line I was trying to convey to you that your descriptor was more befitting you, based on your presentation here, than the misfortunate kids who have you as a teacher. That is two of many descriptors that I would use in describing you, none of which you would like. But it doesn't matter that I think you are mean-spirited, rigid, insecure and annoying. You can't be everything to everybody. I get it, you get off on power tripping on your students and making some people feel less than, because obviously life has made you feel less than. We sew what we have reaped, sometimes.

So this is where we are at. You think I'm from pluto, and _______________________(fill in the blanks, be as nasty as you want. because I do not value your opinion at all, so let her rip. And I think you are less than festive and would not be my first choice to teach anything other than S & M 101. So lets not make this about us anymore. You became a teacher because you believe in the value of education (I optimistically hope) So I am going to assume that you are doing your job to the best of your ability, and let the student casualties fall where they may. So all I want to know, just out of curiosity... what subject do you teach?

These are my guesses 1) a soft "science" like psychology or sociology, or 2) History
When I teach, I teach: 1) the pathophysiology of stress as an antecedent to disease, 2) Functional Neuro-imaging, 3) Potentially Lethal Modes of Sexual Expression, or 4) Chronic Episodic Violence Syndromes. 5) Clinical Cultural Competency. I have also taught many Women's Studies Classes, Demography, Culture and Personality (Major Snooze fest) and Human Sexuality 484 (the one that therapists have to pass to move towards licensure.

Anyway, on a final note, I apologize if my candor has seemed unkind. I wish you the very best, and I hope that you are happy and fulfilled in what you do. And again, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you know in your heart of hearts that you are doing the right thing. Namaste.

So sad...

I find it very sad that anyone can write an entire article about teaching and learning, students and teachers, and not mention the fact that when a student signs up for a course, that student is agreeing to participate in that course and to help set a positive learning environment. Their attendance or lack of attendance impacts the quality of discussion and the two-way learning you are speaking about. I agree that a really poor teacher makes it nearly impossible for students to learn directly from them, however, before I began teaching, I learned many things from less than perfect, "non-entertaining" teachers! It did take effort, something that is also not discussed in the article.

The teaching-learning dynamic and set of relationships is much more complicated than Professor Gordon admits.

Thank you for you comment

I guess I do not see signing up for a course as agreeing to participate beyond the level of the student's desire to be involved. I do agree that when you take a class it is best if you are committed, and prepared to fully participate. However, it's like going out to eat at 5 star speciality restaurant. The experience is better if you let them do their whole thing... but if you don't want sit through it all... that's up to you. They don't tell you, you have to stay for dessert. If they did, you'd be annoyed. The same is true with a class. It's not your right as a teacher to tell a student how much he or she has to be there and participate. You are a service provider. Starbucks doesn't insist you drink the entire cup of coffee.

At Michigan, I showed up to collect the syllabus, take the mid-term, and the final. I didn't need the noise in between. It did not hurt my GPA. That's the kind of student I was. I was also working 3 jobs. Why should I be forced to sit through lectures that I clearly did not need if I could ace the test?

Forced attendance is conceivably as detrimental to the bi-directional learning process as not being there. It wold depend on the terms of the class. Entertaining is not the best choice of words. I think engaging more aptly defines what I mean. You do not have to be entertaining if you can be compelling in your presentation of the material. Again the student is the consumer, there is nothing sacred about being a teacher, like any other profession you are obliged to provide the service you are contracted to do.

Perhaps the teaching dynamic is more complicated, but that has not been my experience as a student or with the classes I've taught. What's complicated about teaching somebody how to do something? Either you know how to do it or you don't. Either you know how to communicate with someone or you don't. Either you are dynamic and engaging or you are not. Seems pretty cut and dried to me. Know your stuff, know your audience, Insert part one into part two in a palatable fashion. It's really not rocket science.

BTW I'm not a professor. The thought of being on the academic tenure track and not being able to move freely between television, medicine and whatever current whim I have is horrifying to me. I only like teaching when and what I want to teach. Excessive amounts of time n academe would smother my soul. I bore easily.

"BTW I'm not a professor. The

"BTW I'm not a professor. The thought of being on the academic tenure track and not being able to move freely between television, medicine and whatever current whim I have is horrifying to me. I only like teaching when and what I want to teach. Excessive amounts of time n academe would smother my soul. I bore easily."

Ah. You're a dilettante. Your article makes a lot more sense to me now. Nobody who actually WAS a professor would have so little respect for the profession. Now I am able to not take you seriously with a clear conscience, and get some real work done. (It's actually finals week for me.)

I enjoyed reading the article, though. You're a good writer. Thank you for sharing your hopelessly misguided thoughts. :)

BTW... etc.

I am glad that you have found a way to make peace with all of that. Dilettante? You are SO JuDGMENTAL. Doll, if I wanted to be a professor, it would be a cake walk into town (but of course you know that) Still, I will gladly let you have that one. Although, I see myself as less of a dilettante.and more of a not a one-trick-pony. Get some work done, smash some dreams (JUST KIDDING)

This was nice. The funny thing is, I suspect I would probably like you as a teacher. Your strong, and you believe in what you do. And I like that. You see things your way, I see things my way, but at least we're both looking. And I am VERY honored that you would take the time to engage with me like this. There is a possibility that I could be misguided in my thinking. I am not, but technically there is a possibility :-)

Take care.

As a final thought,

(and BTW you are a heck of a provocateur, because I apparently can't stay away)

if you are going to call folks out for being egotistical, perhaps you should consider dropping the "comma PhD"? I have a doctorate also, and - egotist that I apparently am - most of my friends who are not in academia have no idea. Perhaps I should get a t-shirt made?

In terms of ego, I find it revealing that you mentioned the thing about graduating with honors despite never attending class in the article itself, and then AGAIN in response to a comment. I mean, presumably that person read the article, right? However, I am impressed not only that you were that good of a student, but also apparently lucky enough to never brush up against any "bully professors" who took roll. Maybe I should have gone to Michigan... ;)

People are going to say we're lovers

If we don't stop this. Anyway, I use Ph.D. behind my name because I am at the medical school, and my Ph.D. is in neuroscience, and in medicine people display their credentials, and a Ph.D. in neuroscience is impressive... well that would be my excuse... The truth is I said YOU were egotistical, I never said I was NOT egotistical. I am very egotistical. It thunders I take a bow. A t-shirt might be nice, Anonymous, Ph.D. I like it. What is your Ph.D. in? (NOT that it matters.. although there are Ph.D;s and there are Ph.D's :-).

That aside, I won't apologize for being intelligent, immodest or an attention whore. I am who I am. If I wanted to be really egotistical I could have mentioned that i scored in the upper 2% of the nation on the NMSQT and was offered scholarships to hundreds of colleges including, all of the Ivies, Stanford, and West Pointe. (I chose Michigan because I like football, and I wanted to be a cheerleader... and I wanted to cheer for a winning team... we all have our priorities... LOL... but that gives you an idea of how seriously I take formal education). Professors did not take roll at Michigan, because taking roll in college is idiotic. You might have liked Michigan, if you could have gotten in. It was very competitive, and they grade on a strict curve, and flunk out 1/2 the freshman, 1/2 the sophomores, 1/4 of the junior and 1/4 of the seniors... I don't know if I was a good student. I don't know what a good student is. I know I test well, and back in the day had a memory like a tar pit... I also know I could sit down and write an 80 page paper on anything, and did that all of the time. But I did a lot of drugs, had a lot of recreational sex, and other than my writing classes, I did not really care about the other classes,... I just cared about getting all A's. That's not a good student in my opinion. That's a student that looks good on paper. I took classes that were easy for me, like chemistry, biochemistry, zoology, logic, Econ... you know the fluff classes, where you don't have to think,you just have to memorize rules (right up your alley... LOL).

Distribution requirements forced me to take some horrible classes like Asian Studies, Great Books and some HORRIBLE class on Dante (MAJOR SNOOZE FEST)... I used to pride myself on having aced Great Books without ever having read one of them. I am not so proud of that now. In many ways I squandered a tremendous opportunity. The truth is, I should have gone to Yale or Princeton, they would have been much better choices for me, but I was the first person in my family to go to college, and there was no one to guide me, so I picked a school I wanted to be a cheerleader at.

Thank You!!!

I have to say as someone currently in college at a very well known state school, you would think they would be a bit more evolved in how they deal with their students given the fact that it ain't not ivy or Michigan (wink, wink Dr. Gordon) but it ain't no slouch either! HA! Seriously though it has become sacrilege in almost every class except very large lectures to use your technology or zone out in any obvious way. Also attendance is taken. Attendance counts toward your final grade and the individual professor decides how many absences they will allow as long as the number falls within university guidelines which is a max of 5. Here's what gets me about these rules; they are all so arrogant as to think that they are entitled to our full attention as though they were MLK or the Dalai Lama. They are BORING!!!! I love learning but sometimes it feels like these professors did their best to memorize the textbook and think that being able to regurgitate facts coupled with their fancy degree(s) is enough. Some are so old, literally old. My differential equations professor is not a day under 70 and that is not my youthful biased eyes drawing this conclusion. He has published work going back to the early 60's. He is condescending and knows the material so well that he just goes through it in a very rote style. He is better than most though. I know his age does not prohibit him from being a good professor but it is a factor because of the length of time spent in the field. He's stopped trying (if he ever did) to engage the students.

If all you are going to do is regurgitate the text, then please let me stay home and read the text! I want to beg them sometimes to allow me to do this but alas...I have to say that I feel like I am being fleeced every semester. Luckily it is almost over. I wish more professors were as self-aware as you are Dr. Gordon. It is an embarrassment that the university and the professors are so worried about attendance and not worried about being good teachers. Taking attendance is for their ego. All those empty seats make them feel bad, so why work on your teaching skills when you can just hold a students gpa hostage? That's way easier than developing the skills need to convey the information effectively. The superficial ego stroke of having bodies in the chair is really sad.

And for those professors who make the excuse that you might give material not in the textbook so we must be in class for our own good, each class is given its own website by the university free of charge to the professor. USE IT! Post the info. If I have the flu and need to be out for a day or two, does that mean now I have to go around begging to get the material from other students who hopefully take good and clear notes that people other than themselves can understand? Yes, sometimes we students are not in class because shock, we genuinely might be sick. We live in dorms which are breeding grounds for influenza. But missing a day of class has to be punished because, ya know, tough love and all...give me a break!

I pay to be there. You want me to act like an adult...then stop acting like my mommy or daddy. I am a consumer. Give me a good product. I pay your salary professors, you may not like that cold hard reality, but there it is. Stop acting like you are doing me a favor. But thank God you have the grades in your hands to give you some power. That's the only reason most students don't say take a hike. It is certainly not because there are just so many engaging, knowledgeable and thought provoking professors out there.

Thanks for reading all! Namaste.

I go to Rutgers...

I am the one who wrote this post. I said all I had to say and then didn't leave the name of my school. I felt that was not fair. I want to stand by my comment as much as possible without revealing my name for safety reasons of course. So there you have. I go to Rutgers University. Take from that what you will.

Welcome to the B1G Ten!

One of the best teachers I had at Michigan, Liz Meese, was on sabbatical from Rutgers. You, like she, are a credit to that institution. It is egregious that you should have to fear for your academic safety for practicing freedom of speech. Somewhere I read there is a place where that is allowed. Oh yeah, America, she used to be right here, have you seen her? Where did she go? The people that fought and died for the right of higher education; the scholars who devoted their lives to learning; the many who printed, catalogued and kept the knowledge. Those who were truly qualified to teach, those who mopped and polished the floors of the classrooms; those who left their fortunes to Universities; those whose taxes were collected for education--for all of those people, how could having a brilliant mind such as yours, tremble in fear in one of America's premiere institution be any more disrespectful. What does it say about a nation, whose institutions of higher education violate the very principles upon which that nation was founded. Thank you and I applaud your courage.

Wow... some courage!

Thank you so much for standing up for yourself and all of us, because all humans are connected. Here is the problem with teachers who do not understand the importance of their position. A teacher may not discover the cure for obesity or cancer, but it will be a teacher who inspires the mind that does, or it will be a teacher that destroys the mind that would. When I say teachers are service providers, there is no shame in that game, service is the most humans can provide. There is where the power lies. There is no power in holding GPA hostages, and becoming self-proclaimed feudal lords in your imaginary fiefdoms. That is why, any teacher, who insists on taking attendance and factoring it into the student's grade, is not promoting education, but subservience. Namaste

Hi Billi, Thought you'd like

Hi Billi,

Thought you'd like this.

"After the crash, we need a revolution in the way we teach economics."


From the article:

All academics think their own subjects are unique – distinctively difficult, unusually useful, exceptionally elegant, and what have you. But the two of us think our subject – economics – is truly unique.

We do not take pride in saying this. On the contrary, we are ashamed. Because what makes economics so unique is the fact that it is the only academic discipline in which a significant and increasing number of students are in an open revolt against the content of their degree courses.

The discontent has been brewing since the outbreak of the 2008 financial crisis, when students found out that their professors have little to offer in terms of explanation of the biggest financial crisis in three generations, not to speak of some of them having been cheerleaders of reckless financial expansion.

Hey Billi, The problem is,

Hey Billi,
The problem is, and any teacher knows it, that if you don't set rules for the students, to help them do the right thing for studying, they will do the wrong thing, and won't learn much. Only, they will find out too late, toward the end of the semester, when they will come desperate trying to catch up with extra credit etc. And we all know at this point it wouldn't be fair to have them pass the semester, because they didn't learn what they were supposed to. So this is what we try to avoid setting rules...


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Billi Gordon, Ph.D., is  Co-Investigator in the  Ingestive Behaviors & Obesity Program, Center for the Neurobiology of Stress, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.


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