Why You Should Be The Bad Guy

28 Oct

If you ever enroll in a college course, you might not want to have me as your professor. I am the instructor that doesn’t accept late assignments, that will give you a zero in a heartbeat, that will call you out for cheating or formatting your paper incorrectly. That tough professor that everyone warns you not to take, that has become me.

Many of my current students loathe me; I can feel it through their emails. I can only imagine what they say about me, how they curse me, how they wish I would die. They make comments to me such as “I’ve always done it this way in my previously classes and I’ve never had this problem” or “I think you are being a little too harsh.” From their perspective, I am the bad guy. They just don’t seem to get it.

The problem is not me; the problem is our society. We have come to a place as a culture where we are more concerned with being liked over being true. A parent forgoes their responsibility to guide, supervise, and discipline their child because they would rather be their child’s friend. A friend sits back and watches another friend participate in unhealthy or potentially damaging situations, refusing to speak up because they don’t want to make the friend upset and lose the friendship. And yes, a teacher never tells their students what they are doing wrong or passes out undeserved grades so that students will give them high evaluations or boost their ego when they tell them, “You’re the best instructor I’ve ever had.”

Although it is not easy, I am slowly accepting that doing the right thing means sometimes getting a bad rap. I am more concerned with making sure that my students get a quality education than earning their approval. By me holding my students to a higher standard and keeping them accountable, they are forced to actively participate in their education and learn things that they need to know to be successful in their careers. We often think we are doing others a favor by being lenient or accommodating, but all we are doing is enabling them and keeping them unprepared for the real world. The reason I know the things that I know and have reached the levels that I have reached is NOT because of what came easy, but because of the things and people who challenged me to be a better me.

Today as you put on your various hats (mother, father, supervisor, mentor, friend, family member, teacher, counselor, etc.), I encourage you to be the bad guy. Honestly ask yourself this question: Who is really benefiting from my actions? If it is only you, some changes need to be made immediately. Show your kids, your employees, your friends, your family members, and like me, your students how much you really care about them by putting their needs first and holding them accountable. Be the bad guy.

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4 Responses to “Why You Should Be The Bad Guy”

  1. Abigail-Madison Chase October 28, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    I am the opposite as a teacher. I am the one that will take a late assigment or give extentions. I want students to understand once you in the work force you can’t be so tough.

    I have had students & student workers come back and say thanks if not for you I would have failed.

    I think a lot of time we are tough just because we think it makes people better and that is not always true.

    I don’t think I am doing them a favor but what I am teaching them is compassion. In life you sometimes have to show others compassion.

    I have worked with tough Professors who often lose great students for being so tough.

    I don’t teach full time anymore I am on the staff. My own boss is a tough professor and that filtered into her dealing with staff. I am the liason because that same tough atttitude is in the office and trust me it does not work.

    In the real world people will need extentions and things will be late u. For me it is not about being liked it is about people learning how to treat thier fellow man with compassion.

    I understand your point but I also as understand that being tough can and does spill over into our relationship as a boss.

    • drawilson October 28, 2010 at 10:37 am #

      Abby, I can definitely understand and appreciate your ideas connected to compassion. I believe we all have needed someone to show compassion towards us at various points in our lives. The problem, however, is that some people manipulate compassionate people and it becomes a crutch for them. It enables them and instead of them learning how to handle life on their own, they constantly look to others to make life easier for them. People can become lazy, uninterested, and unwilling to try when too much compassion is always thrusted upon them. For me, it is not about being mean or hard. For those students who come to me with real issues and need support, I am quick to provide it. Yet, they understand that I still expect them to show effort and be responsible. I think we don’t know how to balance loving people and at the same time helping them to grow.
      Furthermore, this blog isn’t about me as a professor/teacher. My experience is used as an example for something much greater. It is about how parents no longer parent their children, how we are no longer true friends to our friends, how many of us are so scared to be honest with others for the fear of not being liked or accepted.
      In the end, by the time my students leave my class, they may not all have A’s, but if they paid attention to any of my feedback, they walk away having learned something that will give them success in the future. That is what this blog is about: empowering people by holding them accountable.

  2. Deidre Campbell October 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    I have a professor currently who is exacting, mean, demanding and rude. She stresses us over the smallest thing and you know what, the students hate her. I caught myself one wishing that the overturned car on the highway was hers. (Father forgive me!) She even mentioned that all her other students hated her guts. The thing is, she would pinalize us for making mistakes yet she often makes mistakes herself and doesn’t hold herself to the same standard. I complained about her to the Dean and they are not going to hire her next year as the volume of complaints were astronomical. There is a difference between being a good teacher and being a tough one. I had a Statistical Analysis in healthcare class, very mentally demanding, yet the professor was polite, helpful, thoughtful of us as students yet her required the best from us.) Do you know what the result was, 90% of the students earned an A. We worked extra hard to prove him correct. The professor I currently have, I have quit trying and have accepted my lot to get a B even though I am an A student in every other class even the far more difficult ones.

    I am a Director of Residency Research at a local university and I could never treat my residents like that. I started to at first and realized that the push back and hatred and anger from them was not worth it. When people act that way, people try to find ways to sabotage them. I would just admonish caution going forward. People respond to how you make them feel and will remember that far more than what you taught.

    • drawilson October 29, 2010 at 10:16 am #

      Deidre, I think anyone who has been a student has had at least one or two bad experiences with a teacher. That is life; there is always going to be someone that comes along in a position of authority who makes it difficult for us to do what we need to do, whether it is in the workplace, home, or school. But just as I explain to Abby in the previous comment, this blog is not really about me as a professor. My experiences are used to bring to light a bigger concern: our tendency to enable people through our extreme desire to be liked and accepted. Often we cannot be the leaders that we need to be in our communities because we are so afraid of receiving someone’s disapproval (our children, our employees, our friends, and yes, our students). So we stop telling the truth, we stop being real and authentic, we stop being fair and just, and we just give in to things that we know are wrong just so that others will be happy even though in the ling run we are not helping them at all.

      In regards to being a college instructor, let me ask you this? Have you ever even attempted to look at the situation from that professor’s perspective? We often want people to understand us without even trying to first understand them. Have you ever thought that maybe this professor cares about me getting a quality education so much that they will not compromise and accept mediocrity? Foreign countries are surpassing the United States in knowledge and advancement because they hold their students to a higher standard. Meanwhile, our children are becoming less and less interested in learning and embracing ignorance, feeling as if everything is “too hard.” What would Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Fredrick Douglass, Mary Bethune or any other individual from our nation’s and who fought and sacrificed for our right to be treated equally and have rights like receive an education think about the way we treat education now? Back in the day, if you were black, you were just happy if you got through high school. College? Oh that was near impossible. One of the most inspiring movies is Something the Lord Made. It is the true story of Dr. Vivien Thomas, a man who wanted to go to college and be a medical doctor, but couldn’t afford it (during segregation) and so he took a job working as an assistant for a white doctor. When the doctor realized that he has taught himself about medicine, he allowed Vivien to help him with his research, leading to the first successful heart surgery on babies. Although Vivien played the biggest role in creating this procedure, he was not initially given credit or even recognized because of the color of his skin. He was doing ground breaking research and everyone who worked with him was living in big houses, driving fancy cars, and he was doing odd jobs just to pay the rent. Eventually, he was given an honorary doctorate for his work in medicine but it came decades later. Stories like this should encourage us to be our best, to not complain when things are a little difficult. So many before us had it hard; our struggles are minuet in comparison. So your professor doesn’t hand you an “A” on a paper you think was “All That.” You will survive to take another class and write another paper. Don’t let that stop you or cause you to lose sight of your goals. Ask questions and find out what you can do better the next time. One of the biggest problems that I see with my students is that they don’t reach out for help. They don’t ask questions. They don’t call me or email me when they don’t understand something. They don’t utilize the school’s free tutoring services. How can one complain when they are not taking advantage of what is in place to help them succeed?

      Let me make one final comment. I am never rude or disrespectful to anyone, including my students. I am fair across the board and strictly adhere to my institution’s policies. When a student calls me, I spend all the time in the world that need and give them as much information as possible to help them. When they email me with questions, I often spend anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour replying to them, trying to give them the best answer possible. Being the bad guy is not about being malicious or cruel (well at least not in this blog); it is about helping others reach their potential by being honest and letting go of our need to please.

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