JCC Is it disrespectful to correct a professor?

Discussion in 'Community' started by Condition2SQ, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
    Today in my Air Traffic Control class we took a short quiz based on a handout we received last week. One of the questions on the quiz was this

    6. True or False: Although the piece states that when pilots do not enunciate their words clearly, it can cause problems for the air traffic controller.

    Although the meaning of the question is fairly obvious, the "although" at the beginning of the sentence is obviously superfluous, and as I was reading it repeatedly with a quizzical look on my face, the professor asked me if there was a problem. I told him "Not really, this question just sort of doesn't make sense..." He then came over and explained it to me out loud in front of the entire class, and he obviously just wasn't getting what's wrong with the sentence. Not wanting to belabor such a pedantic point while the class was taking the quiz, I thanked him for his help and finished the quiz.

    Partly because I tend to not be able to let pedantic things go but also because I wanted it to be corrected for the benefit of future classes, I approached him after class about it. As soon as I approached him he said "I assume you want to talk about question six again...look, nobody else in the class had a problem with it". I told him simply that the "although" at the beginning of the sentence was completely unnecessary, and he said, "No, the although implies there's a contradiction forthcoming, and that's what the "it..." refers to". I told him that the "it..." clause was actually suboordinate to the "when..." clause, and that there was no corresponding suboordinate clause for the suboordinating conjunction "Although...". He just wasn't getting it, and then told me very sternly "Look, I know you're having a hard time understanding this, but this is not bad English. That's just your opinion". My spontaneous response in my head was "With all due respect sir, you're wrong", but I couldn't bring myself to say such a dickish thing, especially since he was already clearly off-put by the discussion. He then said with an edge "I'll talk to someone at the English department and ask them if it's alright. Is that good enough for you?" I then said yes and walked off with my tail between my legs, feeling as if I'd breached some unwritten barrier between professors and students.

    Did I do anything wrong? Would it have been wrong for me to simply tell him he was wrong?

    And yes, I know I sound like that guy in this story; the insufferable besserwisser who tries to one-up the professor at every turn to show off. That wasn't my intention at all. I made sure that everybody else who straggled after class to ask an actual question related to the subject matter of the class got to go before me.
  2. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    You shouldn't have approached him about the question a second time. He was obviously wrong, and you were correct in intuiting that you couldn't confront him publicly. But there was no benefit i doing so privately, either. His use of the language was poor, but it wasn't incomprehensible, and he gave no signs of being amenable to strengthen it, least of all from instruction by a student. You should have just left well enough alone.
  3. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
  4. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    I think I would've done exactly what C2SQ did. Though if the professor insists that the question is phrased right, then I'd go to a TA...if there is one.

    Edit: Actually wait no, let me change my reply. I re-read the question and realized that if I had read the piece then it's probably not hard to figure out what the question's trying to ask, despite the offending "although". Though if I still wanted to be nitpicky about it, I'd probably still go ask the TA. Or maybe...he deliberately gave you that bad sentence to get the point across about the sort of confusion that happens when people mess up their English :eek:

    Off-topic: Btw, your name is a reference to the movie Crimson Tide right?
    Last edited by Alpha-Red, Oct 22, 2012
  5. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
    [face_shhh]

    ;)
  6. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    It is perfectly fine to correct a professor. As long as it's not about something pedantic and nitpicky, which it was.

    If it's about a historical fact or if you're debating interpretation of literature or something, then, sure, go to town. I've argued with professors plenty of times on issues of art interpretation and meaning and such. But a superfluous word on a test question? No.
  7. WIERD_GREEN_MAN Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2010
    star 4
    Very slightly disrespectful, especially in front of everybody, in most cases, but if it is a serious error it is helpful to correct the professor so they do not continue in their incorrectness with other things. However, in this case, there was not a *real* problem, and so no need to bring it up, especially twice.
  8. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
    Well, the first time wasn't really deliberate. When I said I was reading it repeatedly with a quizzical look on my face, I wasn't doing this ostentatiously. I honestly thought it was a garden path sentence and I was trying to recalibrate my reading of it, certain that the mistake was mine. I sit in the very front of the class, so he simply noticed me; I didn't go out of my way to ask.

    Anyway, thanks for you guys' input. And there is a happy coda to the story...as I was walking to the parking lot I went past the bookstore and they were having a giant clearance sale of textbooks...I got a very beefy international relations text for just five bucks!
  9. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
    Yeah, you were "that guy," even if you didn't intend to be. Like Rogue said, had it been a serious error.... like an incorrect historical fact or date, you would have been more justified in approaching him. Sure, the "although" was unnecessary, but it didn't affect the question, really. You should have just let it go.
  10. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Honestly, i still don't understand the question.
    jp-30 likes this.
  11. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    The question makes no sense at all. And more than the word 'Although' is superfluous.

    6. True or False: Although the piece states that when pilots do not enunciate their words clearly, it can cause problems for the air traffic controller.

    6. True or False: When pilots do not enunciate their words clearly, it can cause problems for the air traffic controller.
  12. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I'm not 100% on this, but I don't think it should have the comma either.
    Darth Somnambulous, MrZAP and jp-30 like this.
  13. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Absolutely agreed. It was reasonable to ask the first time, especially if he thought maybe a word had been missing from the printed question. But once he heard what the meaning was supposed to be, there was no point in pressing the issue.
  14. LloydChristmas Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 4
    This seems like the easiest Air Traffic Control class ever.
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  15. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
    Yes, the question was rather ridiculous.

    "Hmm...could pilots not speaking clearly to the ATC perhaps cause communication problems? True or false? :: Deep thought::................Nah, doesn't sound like a potential problem to me. False!"
    Last edited by Condition2SQ, Oct 22, 2012
  16. Sith-Lord-Gunray Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2003
    star 7
    I kind of dislike classmates like you, you hold up real questions and learning over nitpicky crap like this. Who cares if it's worded poorly? Get on with your day. I'm pretty positive no future students would care, just like no current ones cared, except if they got another box of wrenches like you in there. Also the fact that you go on star wars forums and rant about something like this, and use unnecessarily big words. Arg.
  17. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
    Please read my posts again. I...

    1)Dropped it the first time once it was clear the discussion would disrupt the class
    2)Even though I was first in line, as it were, among the stragglers after the class who wanted to ask questions, I actively let all of them go before me because I knew my query was so pedantic.

    And I wasn't "ranting" about it on a Star Wars message board; just the opposite, in fact. I was so perturbed by my own behavior that I wanted to seek the feedback of people.
  18. Sith-Lord-Gunray Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2003
    star 7
    I read it twice, it was that awful. No matter how many times I reread your posts, it's not going to make them sound good. Sorry mate.
  19. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
  20. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Personally, I'd want a student to point out something like this.
  21. Darth_wanderguard Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2005
    star 6
    Honestly I find the wording of the question pretty poor and I can see how it would cause problems. I also don't see how it was disrespectful to approach him about it. It's his job to answer the students' questions.

    Also, how in the hell is it slowing anyone else down to drop the issue until everyone else is gone, and then talk to the professor privately after class? What could he possibly have been holding up?
  22. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
    Think about this... you waited in line to complain about something you already addressed. You're that guy.
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  23. timmoishere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    It is never disrespectful to correct somebody who is wrong. What actually is disrespectful is standing by and letting him continue to be wrong.
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  24. cipe Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 1
    I pray to god that any pilots you ever actually deal with enunciate their words clearly although many planes will run out of fuel and crash.
  25. Sith-Lord-Gunray Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2003
    star 7
    You're wrong.
    GrandAdmiralJello likes this.