This is one of those times when being a non-anonymous blogger is a little inconvenient. Nonetheless, I think I can make things a little vague and change a few names and I’ll be ok.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’m taking two classes. I thought nothing of it when I signed up for them; they’re the natural next classes I’m supposed to take. One of these classes is taught by a professor who has a reputation of being… well, we’ll just say teaching is not his natural gift. But so what? I’ve had difficult classes with non-ideal professors before.
On the other hand, over the summer I’ve been able to talk to other grad students who have taken this class with this professor. The spectrum of opinions has ranged from “Don’t take that class” to “Don’t [adverb] take that [adjective] class!”
My resolve is wavering. I talked with my friend Carl at the “Meet the new students” dinner, and he said the only reason he was taking the class was because me and our other friend Kevin were taking the class. Really the only reason I’m taking the class was because Carl and Kevin are in it. Kevin wasn’t at the dinner, so on the 1st day of class (today, actually) we’re going to have a bit of a council. Take it, or not? If one of us bails, we probably all will. It’s a required class, but one that can be put off – possibly a different professor will end up teaching it. It has happened before. And it won’t put any of us behind schedule; there’s another required class being offered this semester we can take instead. But then there’s no guarantee anyone else will be teaching the class within the next few years either. Blarg.
In the grand scheme of things it’s not a major problem. Even the actual Feynman lectures themselves were apparently not a great pedagogical success, so really any decent lecture is a blessing. And if nothing else it will show me what to avoid when I teach.