Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm HOTT. Except I'm Not.

I got an e-mail yesterday informing me I'm included in an article on a website called It's a list of the best and worst professors in the U.S. The list is compiled based on reviews from It's not news to anyone that isn't scientific. We know that it's basically a haphazard sample of student opinions. That doesn't mean that the comments are worthless, but it does mean that they aren't representative of the population of students who have taken a professor's classes. I'm on the list of "best professors"--I suppose that's better than being on the list of worst professors. The author of the article boils down my ratings by saying "most of the students say he is 'amazing', 'interesting' and 'HOTT.' For the record, only one student said I'm HOTT. I'm not sure what the extra T means, but I assume it's good. I'm flattered that someone thinks I'm HOTT, but I assure you that I'm not. (Today I look like I'm going to a casting call for a Dockers commercial. Only I wouldn't be hired, because I'm short). I don't think I'm unattractive, I'm only saying that at least 99 out of 100 people in a room wouldn't describe me as HOTT (or HOT).

The writer goes on to say "Beyond being easy on the eyes, it seems that Niagara students also enjoy the ease of his classes and the entertainment value of his lectures." The author correctly points out that most of my reviews come from students in SOC 101. This is no small point. I teach several classes: Social Psychology, Race & Ethnicity, Research Methods, and Introduction to Sociology. The way I teach SOC 101 is very different from how I teach upper-level courses. I do see how my Intro class is perceived as easy (although it might be "easy" because I teach it well--just a thought). However, I certainly don't love being reduced to someone who is "easy on the eyes" and "easy." I doubt that's how a representative sample of my students would describe me.

There are worst things in the world than being characterized as a "talented teacher" who is "totally cute" (those are other phrases in the article). If I may say so, I do think I'm a talented teacher. "Totally cute" is a long stretch. I guess I can't pick and choose adjectives. And I'm not mad at the writer--she's only working with the "data" from Furthermore, I sent my picture to a writer for when she was writing a similar story earlier this year. I figured "why not." As long as she was writing a story, I might as well send a picture. So I sent a picture of me with my son Troy, who inspires me in life.

So I write this not out of frustration or because I'm upset. I write it to reflect on what it means to supposedly be one of the best professors in the nation. And to emphasize what we already know: that a haphazard sample of comments should be taken with a huge grain of salt. Come find me at a conference (or do a Google image search) and you'll agree that I'm not HOTT.

Ultimately, I think this post reflects my concern about not being taken seriously. Who wants to be labeled an "easy professor" who is "entertaining" and "totally cute"? Even if I am entertaining, or cute (debatable), there's more to me than that.

No comments:

Post a Comment