If you are a parent of a teenager, you know that one day your toddler goes from being the sweetest, most appreciative, thoughtful, kind, loving child to a whiney know-it-all who merits boarding school in the North Pole with Nurse Ratched as his tutor. Age: 15.
What makes him intolerable is nonstop complaining. If your teenager isn’t this way, take him to the pediatrician for a complete medical evaluation. He’s sick.
Take cell phones, for example. You get them a phone, and the next day they want a smart phone, one with a camera or a keyboard. You take them on some trip, some outrageously expensive place like Disney World, and they announce “I hate lines!”
So anyway, we have a college freshman at KU. And he’s gotten along fine without significant issues. With one noteworthy exception — his Calculus 2 teacher.
Kids these days graduate from high school with a fistful of college credits in the can. High school classes with AP and honor classes can be tougher than many colleges ever were 30 years ago. So in college even the freshman curriculum can be rigorous. Still, his teacher in Calc 2 was “impossible.” Cue the violins.
Beginning the first week of class in September, this was a familiar refrain. “The class — the teacher — she is awful…” His suggestion — correction, demand — to drop the class was, in his view, a modest request. “It’s not big deal,” he said. “Everyone does it.”
I wasn’t budging.
“Freshman teachers screen out kids. Especially the first month. This is typical. Suck it up.”
Knowing he needed to elevate the rhetoric, he found an ally.
“It’s not just me. Check out her teacher ratings. Everyone agrees,” he said.
Ten minutes later I was on the internet, reviewing www.ratemyprofessors.com.
This Web site is the rage. I found where it’s the third-ranked iPhone app in the education category. More than 1 million professors are rated and 10 million posts are in the system. One article claims the site has about 100,000 student visits a day, reaching 3.2 million college students per month.
I looked up his teacher. Indeed, she has ratings and reviews that would shame John Edwards. Consider these actual comments:
•“Oh lord, you’re in for hell if you take this class with her. You can’t read her handwriting, and you can’t understand what she’s saying either. She is so rude to students and makes such snide jokes it is pathetic.”
• “Hands down, the WORST teacher I have ever had! Take this class from someone else!”
• “Nothing good can come from taking this class! She’s always confusing in class and insults anybody who dares to ask a question.”
• “As others have said, DO NOT enroll in this class. Worst teacher I have had thus far. If you are enrolled, GET OUT.”
So add www.ratemyprofessors.com to another list of life-improving advancements we owe to technology. Alongside texting while driving, billions of hours wasted on Facebook, online gambling addictions, child predators, just to name a few.
We’ve now empowered dudes sporting backward baseball caps, sitting in the back row of Hoch Auditorium, nodding in and out of lectures, skipping class most days but attending enough to extract revenge by trashing well-intentioned teachers. Doing what kids do best — complaining. “OMG — she makes you take NOTES!’
At least in our case, this story has a good ending. College boy stepped up his game and rallied with a flourish. For this family, Calc 2, with the worst teacher since the dawn of man, is in the books.