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Is going to lecture a huge waste of time?

by gravenewworld
Tags: lecture, time, waste
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Moonbear
#145
Jan15-12, 04:55 PM
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Quote Quote by EngCommand View Post
Lecturers are researchers. Their primary job is to research, not to teach, at least that's how it is here in the UK.
Oh, I could turn this into an entire thread by itself! This is a relatively recent notion, and one I strongly disagree with. My view is that tenured faculty should be good at BOTH research and teaching. If you only want to do research, stay out of academia. Academia means working at universities, and universities wouldn't exist without students, so that means the priority should be teaching. I have no respect for the prima donnas who want to do research only and refuse to teach and refuse to improve their teaching. People who want to primarily do research belong in industry or research institutes. The point of researchers teaching is to provide an education beyond what you can get from a textbook alone. In fact, I think my greatest teaching accomplishment this year...and ever...was starting to provide journal articles as supplementary material for sophomores. I presented them with material that directly contradicted their textbook and told them about new discoveries that happened in their own lifetime. If they learned nothing else, I wanted them to learn that they need to keep learning throughout their entire careers, and that some of what they are learning now might be wrong. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have now, but as new discoveries are made, treatments and standard of care change.
deRham
#146
Jan15-12, 05:53 PM
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^ I like it lots, and heartily agree. The fact of the matter is that a lot of professors' jobs exist because there is a university to fund them. I think putting some effort into teaching is a small price to pay to have such a wonderful career. Sure there are those who say there are drawbacks to that career choice like any, but it's pretty awesome a career by most measures.
EngCommand
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Jan15-12, 07:27 PM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
Oh, I could turn this into an entire thread by itself! This is a relatively recent notion, and one I strongly disagree with. My view is that tenured faculty should be good at BOTH research and teaching. If you only want to do research, stay out of academia. Academia means working at universities, and universities wouldn't exist without students, so that means the priority should be teaching. I have no respect for the prima donnas who want to do research only and refuse to teach and refuse to improve their teaching. People who want to primarily do research belong in industry or research institutes. The point of researchers teaching is to provide an education beyond what you can get from a textbook alone. In fact, I think my greatest teaching accomplishment this year...and ever...was starting to provide journal articles as supplementary material for sophomores. I presented them with material that directly contradicted their textbook and told them about new discoveries that happened in their own lifetime. If they learned nothing else, I wanted them to learn that they need to keep learning throughout their entire careers, and that some of what they are learning now might be wrong. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have now, but as new discoveries are made, treatments and standard of care change.
Ask all the staff @ my uni department, I guarantee that >95% will tell you how much they hate teaching.
IRobot
#148
Jan15-12, 07:48 PM
P: 87
As a student that has been exploring subjects on his own before taking the classes, I would say that I always learnt something from the lectures, even on subjects I was sufficiently familiar to solve textbook problems, it cleared my picture. Plus, when the teacher is interesting, vivid and makes references to further readings, it gives you a boost of motivation you can lack when you're just reading books on your side.
EngCommand
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Jan15-12, 08:21 PM
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Quote Quote by IRobot View Post
As a student that has been exploring subjects on his own before taking the classes, I would say that I always learnt something from the lectures, even on subjects I was sufficiently familiar to solve textbook problems, it cleared my picture. Plus, when the teacher is interesting, vivid and makes references to further readings, it gives you a boost of motivation you can lack when you're just reading books on your side.
OK, but is their teaching worth $100,000 of debt?
mathwonk
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Jan15-12, 09:15 PM
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apparently there are many bad lecturers out there. but in my experience it takes 3 or more hours to recreate the content of a one hour lecture. moreover, it makes no sense to skip a lecture you have paid for. by skipping lectures you are thus wasting both money and time.

if you really are able to learn more by reading than going to lecture, then either you are a very poor listener, or you are wasting your tuition at an extremely poor college. change one of those things.

and i guarantee you that most professors in my dept enjoy their teaching. of course it is tempting to conjecture that would change if most students were unwilling even to attend classes they have prepared. a most rewarding experience is watching a reluctant or insecure student grow in confidence and knowledge as they realize that with effort they can indeed master the ideas.

let me put it this way: there is nothing as valuable as personal contact with a good teacher. if you have not chosen a good teacher, what are you doing there? stop bragging about how superior you are to your pitiful school, turn around and get out of there as soon as possible, and go directly to a good school or a good teacher and start going to class and to office hours.

do it now. it is your life, if you are a sincere student, you deserve good teachers, insist on them. I guarantee you they are also looking for good students.
mathwonk
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Jan15-12, 09:37 PM
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i know i am being hard on you but i am trying to help you. [please forgive me this self righteous BS.] at some schools they only give the good professors to those students who seem to deserve them. when i was an undergrad at harvard my sat scores placed me into the best classes as a first semester freshman, but i lost out on those classes when my poor study skills (read poor attendance) began to evidence themselves. many years later, as a dedicated student and postdoc, i had the world's best teachers, fields medalists and ICM speakers. the difference was my behavior. forgive if my advice is wrong for you. i am just giving you the result of a lifelong progression, from screwup to hard nosed dedicated professional.

i admit i was skipping good lectures, even great ones, whereas you think you are skipping bad ones. i am skeptical that your lectures are as bad as you think. and if they really are, then get into a better class. helloooo.
mathwonk
#152
Jan16-12, 09:22 AM
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in fact when i was a freshman we had a poor lecturer in introductory (non honors) physics the first semester who was replaced by an excellent lecturer the second semester. I heard that some of the students had complained about the first semester guy and apparently were listened to. The same thing has happened at my university when the head receives credible complaints about the quality of instruction. So you may have more ability to influence these things than you think.
deRham
#153
Jan16-12, 01:15 PM
P: 410
Even if a bad listener, it is possible to improve those skills. I admit that some years ago, I found lectures were tough to benefit from. It got a lot better when I figured out what I want from each lecture I go to (no longer being passive).

I cannot contradict personal experience saying teachers at a given school are bad and hate teaching, but I do pity it. Even at a large research school, there are often plenty of star researchers who take their educating roles seriously.

I can understand even if a postdoc hates teaching, being under the gun to produce good research primarily. But the rest have little excuse.

The primary benefit is what mathwonk says: the 3 hour to one conversion is very true when you have a good lecturer and a student with well developed listening skills.
coreluccio
#154
Jan16-12, 03:24 PM
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Quote Quote by mathwonk View Post
apparently there are many bad lecturers out there. but in my experience it takes 3 or more hours to recreate the content of a one hour lecture. moreover, it makes no sense to skip a lecture you have paid for. by skipping lectures you are thus wasting both money and time.

if you really are able to learn more by reading than going to lecture, then either you are a very poor listener, or you are wasting your tuition at an extremely poor college. change one of those things.

and i guarantee you that most professors in my dept enjoy their teaching. of course it is tempting to conjecture that would change if most students were unwilling even to attend classes they have prepared. a most rewarding experience is watching a reluctant or insecure student grow in confidence and knowledge as they realize that with effort they can indeed master the ideas.

let me put it this way: there is nothing as valuable as personal contact with a good teacher. if you have not chosen a good teacher, what are you doing there? stop bragging about how superior you are to your pitiful school, turn around and get out of there as soon as possible, and go directly to a good school or a good teacher and start going to class and to office hours.

do it now. it is your life, if you are a sincere student, you deserve good teachers, insist on them. I guarantee you they are also looking for good students.
Tuition is a sunk cost. Rationality dictates choosing the avenue of learning which will give you the greatest benefit for the least cost. The benefit I receive from lectures has a an opportunity cost of textbook reading that is greater than the cost of lectures associated with textbook reading. For me, anyway. I'm trying to understand the material as best I can in the finite amount of time I have, and do as well as I can on exams. You are paying for the ability to write the exams and receive the degree, nothing more.
Jorriss
#155
Jan16-12, 04:05 PM
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Quote Quote by EngCommand View Post
Ask all the staff @ my uni department, I guarantee that >95% will tell you how much they hate teaching.
At my university, almost all professors seem to enjoy teaching. At least, they sure give off the impression of enjoying themselves during lecture.
Choppy
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Jan16-12, 05:00 PM
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Quote Quote by coreluccio View Post
You are paying for the ability to write the exams and receive the degree, nothing more.
So why not just find the cheapest university out there?
Choppy
#157
Jan16-12, 05:03 PM
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Quote Quote by EngCommand View Post
OK, but is their teaching worth $100,000 of debt?
If you're taking on a $100k debt load, I would suggest either reading some different books or attending some different lectures.
coreluccio
#158
Jan17-12, 02:05 PM
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Quote Quote by Choppy View Post
So why not just find the cheapest university out there?
Because unfortunately degrees from different schools carry with them different levels of prestige. If I could get an engineering degree from some online school and have it mean the same thing as one from a reputable school, I would. In an ideal world, degrees wouldn't be granted from universities but from government. You pay a small fee to sit an exam set up by the provincial/state/etc. government and once you have all the courses you need you can attain the degree. Unfortunately we live in a world where we have to be shaken down by unnecessary middlemen known as universities. The sprawling campuses and large lecture theaters are just a front.
Choppy
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Jan17-12, 02:37 PM
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Quote Quote by coreluccio View Post
Because unfortunately degrees from different schools carry with them different levels of prestige. If I could get an engineering degree from some online school and have it mean the same thing as one from a reputable school, I would.
What exactly determines the different levels of prestige?
mathwonk
#160
Jan17-12, 02:47 PM
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boy what a cynic. you seem to be spending too much time isolated in your own company. going to class can cause incidental meetings with smarter and more elevated thinkers, which can be quite beneficial. It happened to me when I got cynical about my uni. I had a lab partner who actually wanted to understand the stuff. It did me good.
GregJ
#161
Jan17-12, 02:57 PM
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Quote Quote by coreluccio View Post
Unfortunately we live in a world where we have to be shaken down by unnecessary middlemen known as universities. The sprawling campuses and large lecture theaters are just a front.
Universities also happen to have a lot of useful (and expensive) equipment. Quite important for some subjects...
EngCommand
#162
Jan17-12, 03:56 PM
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Quote Quote by GregJ View Post
Universities also happen to have a lot of useful (and expensive) equipment. Quite important for some subjects...

Eugh.

Postgraduate students benefit most from the equitment.

Undergraduate students do not. They slave away in the labs for free (working on their undergraduate research)......and they have to pay to do it too!


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