The professor of my class makes me incredibly nervous and stressed with the way she teaches. She has an extremely big ego, and likes to laugh at students a lot when they ask questions she thinks are dumb questions, but tells the students she likes who ask dumb questions that they are asking really good questions. I had to work with her to help conduct a worship service last semester, and she kept demanding that we provide assistance with her sermon. I weakly gave what I’d learned about Luke from a recent Sunday school class because no one else was saying anything, and she snapped, “Well, I know that…I know everything about the NT…” And I thought, well if you are such a brilliant NT professor, then why are you demanding from someone who hasn’t had one single NT or Greek class their input for your sermon? She is constantly trying to show off how much she knows about just about everything, and generally in private discussion likes to talk at length about herself and the son she adopted, but commands and showboats the whole “conversation” in such a way that clearly indicates she has no interest in hearing about your own children or life. I could go on. She is generally insufferable in every encounter I’ve had with her, and she gets away with it for certain reasons that I can’t explain completely at this time. Let’s just say that if I were a professor here and behaved like she does, I would have students complain about me all the time and probably get fired instead of made full professor. She has made full professorship after being there for a year or two, while one guy that’s been there for twenty years just made full professorship–for the same reasons she gets away with laughing at everyone’s foibles and constantly letting her ego run rampant throughout every class. Insufferable is the best way to describe her. At any rate, she makes me nervous and uncomfortable, because she seems constantly on the verge of criticizing me for something. Early on in the class, a fellow and I were walking from the cafeteria after getting coffee and having a conversation and we were headed down to the first floor doors while we talked. Any other person in the world would just mind their own business and assume that one of us might have business on the first floor before our student-led session. Or, they would accept that we would be capable of making our way up to the second floor upon discovering we’d needlessly entered the first floor doors. She started yelling at the two of us loudly so that everyone in earshot could hear, and laughing and snidely reminding us that our session was on the second floor and there were entrance doors to the second floor over there. She’s generally rude at social gatherings if the line is taking too long. One event early on in the school year saw most of us patiently waiting for the line to move along. She snapped to no one in particular “Are we forming two lines, because that would be really smart!” in a way that clearly and unequivocally implied the rest of us were dumb and stupid for not having thought of this. She charged on ahead and shouted, “I need to get food for my little son, because he’s hungry.” I replied, “me too,” under my breath and she snarled at me, “well, come on then.” If the communion line is going too slow for her, she will charge up to the front. All in all, I can’t stand her and I don’t think anyone else does, either, but they don’t want to say anything about it for reasons I can’t really go into here. All I can say is that the reckless, insufferable ego that is on display with her and others like her here is probably just as bad, if not worse, then the ones you encounter in the workplace from people who are incredibly vain and insecure at the same time. That’s the main issue–this incredible insecurity that comes with being a professor at a school whose kind have mostly been dying out and keep being forced to justify what its purpose is.
Maybe I notice the egos around here (in professors and students who are pk’s and cradle p’s) more because of the astonishing lack of Christian humility and charity that seems to accompany them. I should know better from having grown up in a conservative town full of Christian hypocrites and going to a church full of even more intensely hypocritical Christians and having witnessed so much hypocrisy from the televangelists my mother adored so much. Some of the most awful people I’ve had to work with often end up turning out to be intensely Christian or intensely Atheist, but rarely anything in between. There is some incredible chip on the shoulder to prove one’s virtue whether you are a so-called spirit-filled Christian, or a liberal, social justice kind of Christian, or a militant Atheist who constantly wants to show you that a person can be a good person without God.
I probably shouldn’t single out this one professor, since the rest of them more or less have the same over-the-top kinds of insecurity about proving their legitimacy in a school that is constantly defending its own legitimacy. She’s probably a wonderful mother, and I don’t have any doubts that she’s very smart. Her teaching methodology overall has been one of the better prepared ones I’ve seen since coming here. But, the personality of someone who seems to be thinly masking a great deal of insecurity with an over-the-top ego that is constantly trying to show and prove how smart she is can become utterly tiresome and pretty much makes me just want to shut down and do the minimal amount of work required to get a halfway decent grade in the class and then get out.
I should also stress, because it would seem that I get misinterpreted a lot when I criticize processes and people, that I am not saying I don’t have an ego myself. My ego has been smarting for two years since I walked away from a title with VP in it to babysit my son full-time and then go back to school in a completely different field where I haven’t spent a lifetime growing and developing. When a professor like the one I described lays into us for not knowing where a bible verse comes from, I think that I would like to see her removed from her comfortable and familiar environment and dropped into a software company’s sales and marketing department to discuss MQLs and SQLs and SQOs and all the other jargon and acronyms that constitute such environments. My ego bruises and is humiliated on a daily basis from being thrown into the unfamiliar world of those who have been intimately part of the church and their given denomination their entire lives.
However, I have mostly tried to limit my more insufferable displays of ego to family, close friends (wait, I have none of those), and this blog. I don’t feel the need to constantly prove how much I know about everything everyone is discussing, or have read the novel by the African writer that is the lesser known one or the latest one or whatever. I am happy to let other people be good at what they are good at and know that I won’t ever be capable of being good at certain things. Which is to say, I am more than happy and comfortable knowing that she is the subject matter expert in her field, and she doesn’t need to prove anything to me or put on bs airs.
Okay, enough about that.