There’s an ongoing discussion about why some professors give really tough exams. Many students and teachers are sharing their thoughts on whether this is fair and trying to figure out the reasons behind these hard tests.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Many professors push students they believe can achieve more, aiming to groom them for real-world hurdles.
  • Some educators may adopt a tougher stance due to personal experiences or influenced by their own academic history.
  • The depth of passion for a subject can drive professors to set high standards, especially in pivotal fields like medicine.

Imagine acing a test only to be told you’ll get a tougher one next time. This is the story of a student who excelled in organic chemistry and the unexpected reaction from their professor. It’s not just about the exam—it’s about fairness, especially when grades are compared. This story has caught the attention of many on Reddit, leading to a lively discussion about equality in the classroom.

The Psychology Behind ‘Tough’ Professors

Ever wondered about the journey of a professor, especially those who seem especially rigorous or tough? It’s a fascinating path filled with passion and determination,says Michel Clasquin, a professor of religious studies at the university of South Africa. 

Interestingly, many professors didn’t start with dreams of academia. They often worked in different professions before transitioning to the academic world. What truly drives them, however, is a profound love for their specific field. It’s the thrill of discovering new information, connecting them to existing theories, and passionately sharing these findings with students.

Now, what about those professors who seem hard on their students? Their methods and attitudes are sometimes misunderstood. It’s not always about being tough for the sake of being tough. For many, it’s about wanting the best for their students. They believe that certain students can reach higher potentials, so they push them. They want those students to dig deep, to reach their full potential, and to be the best they can be. It’s not about singling out someone; it’s about recognizing potential and nurturing it.

Furthermore, these professors aim to prepare their students for the real world. They understand that the challenges faced in the classroom can mirror those in the professional world. By pushing students in an academic setting, they believe they are equipping them with the resilience and skills needed for future challenges. This tough love is rooted in a genuine desire to see students succeed in their careers and in life.

However, like in all professions, there are a few who might lack the necessary compassion. Some might be going through personal challenges or have unresolved issues. It’s essential to remember that professors are humans too, and they have their good and bad days. Such behavior isn’t necessarily a reflection of the student‘s abilities but more about the professor’s personal struggles.

“Ok, get this, what professors must do is to ask the student “do you want more of a challenge” or offer them after class extracurriculars. But not to threaten their grade in a class they’re paying to take and learn from for their degree. If the class has nothing to teach them, they deserve to coast through and get to the next class that may.”

Many professors’ teaching styles are influenced by their past educators. They might emulate methods used by their own professors during their learning journey, especially during their rigorous graduate school days. The approach might seem tough, but it’s what shaped them and what they believe will benefit their students.

“So, your professor wants to give you optional challenging questions, he is welcome to do that, but he has to grade you on the same material as everyone else. Go to the department chair in case everything goes wrong.”

Remember, every professor was once a student. They’ve been through the grind, faced challenges, and know what it takes to succeed. They use their experiences to guide their teaching methods, aiming to bring out the best in each student, just as their professors did for them.

“From my stance, there is nothing wrong with an extra challenge. Trust me, you will be fine. He wants to push you to learn the subject on a deeper level. Why don’t you take this as an opportunity to do so and rise to the challenge. You’ll probably get a letter of recommendation out of the deal.”

Moreover, for professors, their subject is more than just a topic; it’s a passion. They believe in its importance and want their students to grasp its depth and significance. This deep-rooted belief can sometimes make them seem overly tough, but it’s only because they want their students to value the subject as they do.

“No joke, but the general chemistry course at my local university was known as a hellscape. Apparently, organic chemistry was the one that made sense and was much easier in comparison.”

For fields like medicine, where lives are at stake, this rigorous approach is especially critical. We all would want our doctors to be the best, having been trained by the toughest, ensuring they are prepared for any situation.

In conclusion, the psychology behind ‘tough’ professors is multifaceted. While their methods might seem challenging, most are driven by a genuine desire to see their students succeed. Understanding this can change our perspective and make us appreciate the hard lessons a bit more.


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