The possible downside of famous professors

One of the perks of going to Berkeley is all the big names it attracts. At Cal, we get to interact with and learn from some of the most distinguished and recognized in their fields. It’s pretty cool to say you actually heard [insert epic name here] speak in person, even if you didn’t meet him or her. But is it still cool if they go on talking about themselves as if they were their own PR rep?

If they start class by telling you every article or book they’ve ever published, it’s sort of a turnoff, so to speak. If we were interested in knowing their resume, we could Google it, right? And even if Google failed us for some reason, we could just ask them. Unless it’s immediately relevant to the subject they’re about to lecture on, we’re not sure they need to inform of us of every one of their academic accomplishments. You’re a big deal. We get it.

Now, this may just be us feeling inadequate in our puny undergraduate lives. This may be misplaced annoyance. We’re just trying to point out that there’s a fine line between informing and boasting. That line becomes even trickier when the instructor is using his or her own work to teach students. How do you quote your own book without sounding obnoxious? How do you say you discovered something without seeming like a pretentious know-it-all?

Maybe some professors don’t care how they come across. Obviously, our opinions of them aren’t going to affect their lives, and they’re definitely not going to affect their careers. But it will affect our experience as students.

Now, don’t go calling out your teachers for being annoying pricks just because we pointed out some potentially irritating behavior. We’re sure most professors aren’t bragging or doing anything wrong. The balance may just be something to think about next time you’re listening to a hotshot lecturer. Do you think such a lecturer is carrying himself well, considering all that awesomeness that must be burdening him?

Image source: University of Manchester Schools & Colleges under Creative Commons.