Rate Your Writers’ Teaching Ability
Well my semester has just begun, which means I’m getting emails from students trying to add my class. Many of these students and others probably check out RateMyProfessors as they try to make decisions regarding in what section they’ll enroll.
We all know how RateMyProfessors works: students anonymously rate their university instructors on a five point scale, and then type up a few sentences of comments, which can often be unintentionally hilarious. Also, anonymous raters assign chili peppers to their instructors to denote ‘hotness,’ so there’s that weird physical evaluation too.
What we might not know is that some of the very authors we’ve read, such as Evenson, Lutz, and so on, appear on RateMyProfessors, having taught at one point or another in their ‘literary career.’ I’ve gathered a handful here (as many as I could think to look for) and inserted some smarmy comments; if you know of others to link to, do so in the thread and I’ll try to add them to the post.
(Is it ‘okay’ to post these? Am I breaking some code of conduct here? I have no idea. Apologies in advance.)
What I do know is I love to gossip.
Read and click through the excerpts/list after the break.
Taking a class from Brian Evenson sounds really good to me, and this student agreed until he/she didn’t receive the proper amount of ‘guidance,’ whatever that means.
=( poo indeed:
ugh. sounded good. but not. fun class, but no structure. Papers were supposed to be as response, but no guidance, then poor grades =( poo.
Lily Hoang gets a ‘pretty good’ rating from this student at Saint Mary’s College:
She is very sweet and young so she relates to us a lot. The material is pretty good. But we did have to read books I read in high school. Her papers are pretty easy and helps you work things. and a lot of in class w/s to help with grammar. and she does peer reviews. pretty good class.
Jonathan Baumbach ought to ask for better comments next time. Isn’t there some movie out based on his parenting? ZING!
Kim Chinquee’s got three pages of comments from her time at Central Michigan University. One student calls hers ‘a horrible, miserable, depressing class.’ Dude, did you even speak once to Kim during class? We’re talking about the same Kim Chinquee, right?
Here’s a much better one:
Kim is awesome! I love this class. It’s fun and I learn a lot from her and the other students. Anyone that takes writing seriously will love it, too.
I love the ratings/comments threads that turn all self-aware: you know, when one student ‘piggy backs’ on something someone else said previously. In Joe Wenderoth’s case (warning: ten pages), some students skipped the ‘piggy backing’ and went immediately to the insults.
Unless you are a weak-minded sloth, you will think about his lectures and appreciate his comments for months after the class ends. The strong should take him.
And the others should just drop out and get a job at Wendy’s?
I was surprised at how little Michael ‘Mikey’ Martone had on his RateMyProfessors page. I wouldn’t doubt it if someone told me he’d written this one himself.
Mikey is the MAN!! Not only is he funny and insightful, he has a sincere love of the written word and a commitment to his students. He sees the indefinite possibilities of each student. He’s an amazing teacher and a wonderful person.
I would kill to take a freshman composition class with Gary Lutz, but I’m not someone who minds all those pesky newspapers:
Reads way too many newspapers for my taste. He grades pretty hard and you have a midterm and final in his class. I recommend you try another eng professor if possible. Oh yeah, he eats at Burger King in southwest gbg like every day…How’s he so skinny
Some of my favorite kinds of ratings are the ones that touch on seemingly irrelevant personal details, like the above reference to Burger King. Here’s a positive comment for Lutz that mixes praise of his class with that of his hands(?):
His hands are the most expressive thing about him and I find both his short story collection and personality completely intriguing. He makes his class a joy to attend. He’s the smartest man on this campus; you’ll be surprised by what you learn. Take it!
Nothing but cheers from the students of UC-Santa Cruz for K. Silem Mohammad; he can both manage a ‘100+ lecture hall’ and advise someone during a ‘personal crisis.’ Good work, Kasey! I really liked your sonnet mashups, by the way.
He made Milton interesting, and that is not an easy task. Plus when I had a personal crisis he was incredibly understanding. Great teacher.
I am appalled by Robert Coover’s lack of ratings. Appalled.
C.D. Wright gets a shoutout in a Forrest Gander rating. To whom does that ‘He’ in the second sentence refer? Hey, this is Gander’s RateMyProfessor page; Wright, get your own.
Best Brown memories were thanks to Forrest and CD Wright. He defined my Brown experience and helped to make me who i am today. I forever wish to know him. A true poet. The truest soul I know.
My favorite comment David Foster Wallace received from his time at Pomona is a simple one:
The man is one of the greatest authors of his generation. He has a freaking genius grant. Of course the class is good.
I have suspicions concerning Ander Monson’s thirteen pages of beard-related comments: somewhere some crazy Grand Valley State University graduate is shopping around an experimental novel about ‘Ander Monson’ written using the RateMyProfessors website format. That’s the only thing I can think of to explain the high number of ‘cute’ entries here. That, or Ander Monson has created a zombie army.
During class, Monson will reward correct answers and unique ideas and attendance by allowing students to pet his mini-Ander, AKA Ander Monson Jr., AKA Little Big Man, who is not as much a “real person” as a miniature wooden replica of the real Ander Monson in a lawn-gnome suit.
One of Justin’s students confesses:
I didn’t try at ALL in his class, I wrote my papers on trains and cars and still managed to get a B+. I never paid attention in class nor participated in class discussions. The key is to keep emailing him with questions, he is VERY helpful and CARES about your grade.
Someone from Mike’s class says:
One of the most original people I have ever met. He truly is a gifted teacher in his own approach. His feedback on your writing maybe seem some what bizarre at times, but his encouragement and enthusiasm pushes your writing to new skins.
And finally, here’s one from one of my students at George Mason University:
he is ok. for the class, you just have to put little effort however, he is strange. needs to be more organize. you have to involve in disscussion otherwise you will see your grade suffering b/c of that. i hate it!!!!!!!!!1
Future publisher: can that be my book blurb?