As I posted a while ago, I am no longer teaching economics. I did a cost-benefit analysis, and I just wasn’t making enough money to justify my time. I was also scheduled to teach on afternoons every spring, and in the past I had given up other opportunities to stick with the sure thing. So I quit.
But I had forgotten that a few years ago I had posted a profile on WyzAnt.com, a website that allows students to locate tutors. Two weeks ago, I was contacted by a student who needed help with her microeconomics class. So I began my tutoring career. Here’s what happened in the last week:
- Met with Isabel B. She didn’t have a copy of the syllabus (it was posted online). She didn’t have a copy of her first exam (the instructor didn’t give them back or go over them). And she was confused as hell. Her instructor is a foreign graduate student, and when the average on the first exam was 50 out of 100 he proceeded to tell the entire class that they were stupid. I went over her homework assignments and made sure that she understood the answers to the questions. I also gave her some of my lecture notes to study before our meeting this week. Isabel had a good grasp of the material when we parted last Thursday, and I was sure that she would do well on the homework assignment as we went over it thoroughly and made sure that her answers were consistent with her class notes and textbook.
Compounding Isabel’s difficulty in learning economics are the facts that (1) her instructor is from a third-world country whose educational system is based around doing math and studying 12-16 hours per day, (2) her instructor is teaching a math-and-graph class that glosses over the underlying economic theory, and (3) her instructor has no cultural or other reference point to use to illustrate and explain the economic theory. He is literally teaching out of the textbook.
It all came to a head today when Isabel didn’t show up for our scheduled meeting. I sent her a text, thinking that she simply forgot. She answered me with 2 texts. In the first, she said that she had sent me an email cancelling because she too much to do (it’s possible, but I never received such a message). The second text gave me a better idea of why she bailed: she had gotten a 67% on the homework assignment that we had done last week and that I assured her would be at least a 90%.
Now, I know economic theory. I know how to teach economic theory. And I know that there is no way in hell that she should have been graded below a 90% on that assignment. Her answers were all rephrases of standard economic theory, and in some cases an answer was almost word-for-word from her notes and/or the text.
This pissed me off. This shithead graduate student instructor from India doesn’t know the difference between mathematics, economic theory, or his asshole. And he sure as hell doesn’t know how to teach (rule #1: you can think that most of your students are stupid. YOU NEVER SAY THAT IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE CLASS!!!). And because of this idiot, now my tutoree thinks that I am full of shit and ripping her off.
I am going to admit my bias right here. I had enough of this shit in graduate school, where American professors favored foreign students in grading and passing them through the program. Never mind the fact that foreign students cheat using old test banks and re-using term papers that previous students had written years before. Yeah, foreign graduate students don’t have a moral or ethical problem with cheating. That’s what happens when your religion doesn’t believe in an afterlife or eternal damnation. And they don’t just cheat in graduate school, they also cheat to get into graduate school so they can get out of the shithole country they were born in. And never mind the fact that I once caught a fellow (foreign) student copying her term paper word for word out of a economic journal from five years before. She wasn’t even smart enough to change the wording, she simply rearranged the paragraphs and submitted it to the professor. When I presented proof of this to said professor, he did…nothing. However, it was priceless watching her try to describe her term paper in front of the class, when it was evident to everyone that she didn’t have a clue about her paper’s topic because she didn’t write it.
That’s bad enough, but the end result is that more and more classes are being taught by people who can’t teach and don’t really know the material. And guess what? You are paying for it. You see, your taxes support your state colleges and universities. That’s why in-state students are charged lower tuition rates than out-of-state students:
Students who are residents of a particular State are required to pay in-state fees because their school is operated using State funds (primarily sourced from tax collections). Normally, in-state fees are lower.
These state tax dollars go to pay the professors who favor these cheating foreign students who often can’t speak proper English and can’t teach. And these cheating foreign students then take your money and call your sons and daughters stupid. Doesn’t it make you feel good to be supporting these cheating foreign students with your tax dollars, when American graduate students who can teach are being drummed out of graduate school?
* Economics can be a bitch to learn when you have never done it before. For the record, I failed both Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics the first time I took them, so I know what Isabel is experiencing. In fact, one reason why I decided to teach economics is because the instructors I had were so abysmal. And on a related note, if the average on your exam is 50% when you are the instructor, it’s not the students its you.
It’s just too bad that I spent all my time in graduate school learning the economic theories of Plato, Aristotle, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Carl Menger, Alfred Marshall, Thorstein Veblen, James M. Buchanan, and Gary Becker instead of doing fancy mathematical equations and calling it economics. And if this post offends you, you can piss off…