On freestyle tutors and rocking the boat

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Before posting this rant I sought advice from my sister, who is a fourth year full-time student in Trinity College, and picked my workmates' brains who previously were engaged in studies over here.

I asked my sister if she had encountered many freestyle lecturers over the years that she spent in college. Although her object of studies requires a more specific and systematic approach than mine (for those looking for some background information, currently I am studying photography and digital imaging in the National College of Art and Design), recently myself and a few other guys I am studying with got worried. We've paid about 1300 Euro each for a six-month course which takes place twice a week for about 3 hours each time. We're split into two groups and have three lecturers in total - one of them we are sharing and then each group has the main tutor whom the other group only gets to see rarely.

So. The lecturer that both groups are sharing is kick-ass. Tons of material, dozens of pictures, intensive and brain-teasing lectures, lots of feedback on the projects we are currently involved in, etc.

The guy who is the main tutor of the other group (despite my bewilderment about the fact that although he had been photographing for over 15 years, he never aimed to exhibit his work abroad) knows his stuff, is very expressive and was very helpful when we were working in the darkroom. But my group only gets to see him rarely.

Now my group's main tutor, as one of the girls I'm studying with said, is a hippy, which is great, yet when I was paying the money I wasn't expecting to spend half of those 3 hours listening about her trip to New York. Neither was I paying the money for her to constant cross-examinations of how we are doing with our projects. Not that I don't like them or don't accomplish them, but spending over an hour of those 3 hours (which in her case mostly turn into 2) on asking what's your project? how are you getting on? how's your research? ON EVERY SINGLE LECTURE OF HERS is ridiculous, because as we are just talking the same stuff all over again and again, she is just nodding her head or mentioning a few random names (which in my case were totally absurd and out of context - on which even the kick-ass lecturer had agreed). She comes unprepared every single time and I am not the only one who is starting to feel fed up with her impromptu lectures.

An artist, one might wonder? I don't even consider her as an artist at all.

My sister admitted of having a few lecturers like that, while one of my workmates said that two of his lecturers could hardly speak English and one of hem was lecturing about mechanical solids (the colleague I am talking about graduated in engineering).

As we were sipping our Christmas drinks with the guys I study with, quite a few of us mentioned dissatisfaction with the tutor I am talking about. And before I could say anything one of the girls said "We, Irish, tend not to rock the boat". If it wasn't for her, I would have continued thinking perhaps I am just nitpicking. After all, good tutors are rare. Yet my guess is that she has probably been lecturing like this always - without students' complaints or any notions of improving the quality of her classes.

Since I am not Irish and one of the better students should I rock the boat? And how?

Shoulda woulda coulda...

This Post has 5 Comments Add your own!
Primal Sneeze - January 4, 2008 at 7:16 AM

Lina, not being Irish and not being one of the better students (although I somehow doubt that) is not relevant. What I see as important here is that you have paid a lot of money and for that you expect a service in return.

You are not getting what you paid for, so take you case to the course co-ordinator. If they don't act, then take it further up the hierarchy.

And we Irish DO rock the boat, maybe not as often or as loudly as some other nationalities, but we do.

Christophe - January 4, 2008 at 10:09 AM

I went on a one man strike in university once and threw an examination paper back at my lecturer once... But then again, I'm half french...

Lithuanian Jotter - January 4, 2008 at 11:59 AM

This story reminds me of my secondary school years in Lithuania. We had a literature teacher who for some reason always spelled the word 'original' (originalus) incorrectly, missing one 'i' - 'orginal' (orginalus).

Everyone kept quiet for about a year when finally I felt I had enough guts to point this out politely.

When she heard this, she started arguing with me in front of the class, and I realised I was the only soldier in the field. Nobody backed me. It took the teacher a day or so to go back and check the spelling in the encyclopaedia, and she later apologized.

However, the sweetness of the victory was ruined as I felt that nobody was there to support my 'boat rocking attempt'. So be careful and form a team of soldiers to fight your fights :-)

aonghus - January 4, 2008 at 10:02 PM

Being Irish but having spent 10 years in Germany....
We Irish don't rock the boat half often enough.

I'd agree with Primal's suggested action. Don't wait for backup, it may never happen. Even if people say they will - they may abandon you anyway.

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