You might already know I worked for some time teaching Spanish in Poland.
At the end of the job interview with the director of the school, I spoke with the head of studies.
I don’t know if it was because I was Spanish or because they said that to everyone:
If classes start, for example at 18:00, you can’t get to the classroom at 18:00: you have to arrive at least five minutes early and make sure that everything is in order so that the class starts punctually at 18:00. And if the class ends at 19:30, the class ends at 19:30; not at 19:20 or 19:28: at 19:30. Students have paid for 90-minute classes, and that’s what you should give them.
I have always been punctual both in and out, and the warning seemed entirely reasonable to me.
From time to time people write to me asking about my dissatisfaction with the university.
I could write a separate daily newsletter about this, but now I will focus on today’s topic.
The last time I was signed up to the university subscription, the timetable said that the classes lasted 80 minutes, or 1 hour and 20 minutes, with 10 minutes between classes.
It was actually much less, and not a one-off thing or a one or two professor thing, but it was the norm for most of them. With its honorable exceptions, yes.
Let’s say: the class starts, according to the timetable, at 16:00.
The professor arrives in the classroom at 16:10 and does not apologize for being late because those ten minutes are normal and deeply ingrained in the system: they are taken for granted. He organizes his desk, his materials, turns on the computer, the projector, etc.
Assuming that there are no computer problems, which are not uncommon in devices that dozens of people (some of them digitally illiterate despite their PhDs and adaptation courses for which they receive points for promotions) touch, and which are not maintained at all, at 16:15 you are ready to start, but you still have to sign in, on paper and/or electronically, your own attendance. You also have to download from the university cloud the presentation you are going to use, because using a pendrive is very 2005.
At 16:20, now everything is ready.
Anybody have any questions? Yes? No? If you don’t tell me anything, I can’t know: I can’t read your minds. Talk to me.
Let’s accept, however, that the class really starts, at last, at 16:22.
The class may be more or less interesting, more or less effective, more or less in tempo.
The class ends, according to the schedule, at 17:20, but it is 17:10 and the slides for today are already finished.
Any questions? No? Byez!
Of course, there is some caricature in what I just narrated.
But not too much, really.
Out of an 80-minute class, 30 minutes can be perfectly wasted. Not one day, but every day, every class. 37.5% of the class time: more than a third.
And then, of course, if you want to come to office hours, ask for an appointment, because if I see that no one has made an appointment, I don’t even show up.
I know that not everything in the university (or wherever it is) works like that. I know you are not like that. I know that my father, when he was a professor at the university, was not like that. I know all that.
But I do know, from many years I’ve spent at the university, that, in general, it is like that. And I’m just talking about punctuality.
Of course it’s not the same, because it just can’t be the same, but asynchronous courses have one big advantage: you start playing the video when you want and you stop when you want.
In recent times there is a certain haterism towards asynchronous online education.
However, it is not infrequent that people write to me thanking me because with my resources they understand so and so, while in the classroom, with the manuals, with the PhD überprofessor, they do not.
P. S. You will get knowledge, but not diplomas. And of course, you won’t waste time between classes.