JOHNATHAN ZEMLIK is getting to grips with lecturers, and takes a look at the good, the bad and the unwashed.
There are three types of lecturers: good ones, bad ones and ones that just don’t care. A major privilege of Cambridge is being taught by the greatest minds in their respective fields. A good lecturer, can make the most skull-crushingly boring aspects of your course seem fascinating.
But just because you’re an expert doesn’t make you a good teacher. You can have the best ideas in your field, but if you can’t break it down and explain it no one will care. Put more bluntly, you can’t polish a turd.
Recently I went to a lecture series where a good 40% of what was said went over my head, mainly because the lecturer spoke at the speed of a pitched rap-battle, mentioning concepts and theories I can’t even spell, never mind understand. While I know the problem isn’t me, coming out of the lecture I still feel stupid for not understanding.
Worse than the amateur rappers are lecturers with agendas, people who want to convey a message. They think they’re being subtle by introducing it into the lecture, but in reality it’s like being treated as a bunch of dumb kids.
For God’s sake we’re at Cambridge we can see right through the shit you’re selling. While I respect someone for having views on something, I can’t stand it when people refuse to listen to others. When question time comes and you don’t get an answer, either because they dart off before someone demolishes their 1960s Marxist ideology or they kick up a dust storm of irrelevant waffle to hide behind, I’m left seething and still no closer to understanding.
Then there are the lecturers who don’t care. Usually older and quite experienced, they speak well, if a little monotonously.
But look into their eyes and you’re met with the cold, dead gaze of someone who’s taught the same lecture series for the past 40 years. If they were to die and be reborn in some sort of zombie apocalypse, they’d just stagger back over to the history faculty and continue lecturing, thumbing through their well-leafed notes.
This breed of nonchalant, questionably un-dead lecturer also tends to tread a very narrow line between academic and tramp. They may be able to build a supercollider but they’ve never heard of a washing machine.
There’s a link between level of filth and intellect among academics. The scruffiest looking people around the faculty are in fact the geniuses of their age often found in a badly stained jumper, musing on interpretations of Holbein Painting, or the importance of numerology in the King James Bible. When I give money to some of the homeless in Cambridge I wonder if the money will go towards someone’s next meal or a young academics PHD fund?
There’s diversification of quality everywhere, it’s a sad fact that some lectures will prove utterly useless. Lets face it we’re at Cambridge, we can take it; we may have some terrible lectures, but they’re the best terrible lecturers in the country.