What College Instructors Say

What Not to Say to College Students

A colleague sent this e-mail joke to me, which I have edited a bit.  Read it, and then guess what my point is.  I bet you can guess!

The Joke

I was having trouble with my computer. So I called Eric, the 11 year old next doo.  Eric came over, clicked a couple of buttons, and solved the problem.  As he was walking away, I asked, “So, what was wrong?”   He replied, “It was an ID ten T error.” I didn’t want to appear stupid, but nevertheless inquired, “An, ID ten Terror? What’s that?  You know, in case I need to fix it again.”   Eric grinned, and after a hesitation responded, “Haven’t you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?”  “No,” I replied. “Write it down,” he said, “and I think you’ll figure it out.”

So I wrote down: I D 1 0 T

I used to like Eric, the little bastard.

My Point

Many of us have had an experience or two like this.  Some self-proclaimed expert points out our “ignorance” with stealthfully crafted sarcasm.  (By the way, have you seen any of those Cave Man commercials?)

Think before you criticize a student.  Seldom does an instructor intend to defame a student so severely as to call him or her an idiot. But sometimes it happens.  Words fall out of our mouths, hurtful words.  Be mindful of this.

One other thing.  Occasionally you will run across a real idiot.  I suppose that person has a right to know?  😉

© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

Posted May 20, 2010


About Dr. Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

My name is Paul Hummel, and I often introduce myself to others as a recovering engineer. If you are familiar with the Dilbert cartoons, let me simply say that I lived all of that. I started my college saga at Illinois Institute of Technology. Eventually, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management. I worked for many years in industry, and during this time I did some college adjunct teaching. During my career I held several managerial positions in industry, the last as Director of Technology of a division of a Fortune 500 corporation. Then, in 1996, with minimal planning or forethought, I found myself working as a manufacturing consultant on behalf of Elgin Community College (ECC). My career in higher education began to take shape. I fell in love with ECC and with the mission of community colleges in general. I worked fulltime and occasionally taught college courses for my institution and two other colleges. After a couple years I set a goal to move over to the “credit side of the college” and eventually become a college administrator. In 2006, having earned my doctorate in education, I achieved that goal. I was hired by Waubonsee Community College as Dean for Technology, Mathematics and Physical Sciences. I have had the great fortune of working at two excellent colleges. The insights I want to share are drawn from the various college positions I have held. At ECC, in addition to my consulting role, I coordinated non-credit professional development training programs for three years and spent four years advising students in the TRiO Student Support Services program. That position helped me understand college education from the perspective of today’s college students. After seven years at Waubonsee, I retired April 30, 2013. I now devote my knowledge and skills to upgrading and expanding the websites I created beginning with Adjunct Assistance. I have three other websites: College Teaching Tips, Keys for College Success and Lighthouse for Learning. A lot of work lies ahead for me in terms of upgrading and expanding each of these websites, but I could not be more excited about fulfilling the vision I have for helping college instructors and their students succeed.

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