I am currently in a financial accounting class with a professor that has used offensive (in my opinion) commentary in her lectures since my first exposure.
Examples of comments she makes:
- Financial accounting is a class everyone should take, because it's actually useful, not like forced electives such as sociology. (Whether or not you believe income statements and balance sheets are more important than understanding how and why the society around you functions, the tone of this comment was what bothered me at the time.)
- Boys are bad at wearing work clothes for work instead of nice clothes.
- Girls treat their clothes better because they find them more precious.
- Woman have a shopping gene.
- It's implied that women (or moms) do all the shopping and cooking.
I admit that I don't attend class often enough to know whether this is a pervasive or sporadic issue. I just know I've been put off enough to not attend classes more often and find out. I make up not going to her lectures by putting in extra effort other ways.
I can tell that she's not trying to be offensive. Her comments are meant to come off as motherly and humorous. I'm also not trying to be offended, as I gain nothing from that.
What is the most diplomatic way of addressing issues with a professor when you're in a large lecture hall setting? (As opposed to small classroom settings, which lend themselves to more personal connections with the instructors)
How would a professor prefer I address them if I were dissatisfied with the nature of their off topic commentary? (As opposed to opinionated comments that relate to the course or field, such as economic policy preferences in a economics course)
- Should I send a polite email to the professor explaining that I wasn't comfortable? It's quick and semi-anonymous. She won't be able to associate the name with my face. Presenting myself in an impersonal matter may result in an impersonal response.
- Should I wait until the end-of-semester course evaluations and express my concerns? These are completely anonymous, but seems passive aggressive and rather too far after the fact.
- Should I approach her directly if it happens again? It's more personal, but that can also seem to be more confrontational (especially if I go out of my way to meet her during office hours). I don't feel it's confrontational, or that I would present myself that way, but people receiving critique can feel that way.
- Is there a better solution?
Switching sections isn't any more preferable than skipping the current lectures. The other available times didn't work well for me or my family on a regular basis. I'm also not sold that it's the best option for most students in a similar situation. I would see changing sections as a recourse only if other methods failed, or the lecturer was wildly offensive.
While the first class bothered me, I didn't drop attendance immediately. This was done after getting a feel for the course, when I knew I could balance not being in the lectures. It wasn't a knee-jerk "How dare she!" reaction.
Spotty attendance is admittedly doing nothing to address the issue. Thus, my inquiry.