Choice Student Comments on Your Philosophy Courses


Student evaluations of teaching have their problems and limitations, but if they allow for comments, at least there’s a chance that you’ll come across a helpful observation, a bit of appreciative praise, an amusing insult, or even potential advertising copy for your course.

[from an ad for Wolcott’s Instant Pain Annihilator]

Take a moment to share a favorite student comment or two—positive or negative—from your courses from the past few years.

I have a hunch that there will be a surprising number of references to headaches in what philosophy professors take to be positive comments—a student recently described one of my courses as “brain throbbingly challenging,” which I count as a win—but maybe some other patterns will emerge.


 

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WisdomBeforeLove
2 years ago

“This course made my girlfriend dump me. I tried explaining to her that I was no longer sure she was a person, and it did not go over well. I learned a lot, but now I am alone.”

Igno
2 years ago

Terrible. I actually feel like I know less as a result of taking this course.

Juan Pineros Glasscock
Juan Pineros Glasscock
Reply to  Igno
2 years ago

@Igno: A Socratic success?

Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  Igno
2 years ago

I’ve had pretty much that exact same comment. It made me feel proud.

Joseph
2 years ago

I thought I signed up for a Philosophy course.

Matt
Matt
Reply to  Joseph
2 years ago

I came here for an argument!

Caligula's Goat
Caligula's Goat
Reply to  Matt
2 years ago

No you didn’t!

Crawford Crews
2 years ago

“I love the style of the course. The way that Professor Crews teaches Ethics resembles exactly the way that Socrates teaches in the game Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (I have no idea if that’s how Socrates was in real life). I would highly encourage anyone to take Professor Crews for philosophy.”

StillNoObjectivist
2 years ago

In this class, I learned that you can trust no one.

Sam Duncan
2 years ago

From way back in the days when we still used pen and ink to mark up student papers: “He has the handwriting of a five year old child.”

Therese Cory
2 years ago

From a student who was paying either too much or not enough attention during the discussion of informal fallacies: “Professor begs the most interesting questions.” My first ever set of teaching evaluations also included the remark, clearly meant to be kindly, that “She will be a good teacher someday.”

Joel Pust
2 years ago

“Would not recommend this course as the material can freak you out.”

Matt
Matt
2 years ago

“Ugh.”

Matt
2 years ago

Two different evaluations from the same Philosophy of Religion course:
1) “When I entered this class, I was a hardcore fundamentalist Christian. Now I doubt all that.”
2) “I came into this class a convinced atheist (having been convinced by Dawkins). Now I don’t know what to believe.”

Eric Steinhart
Reply to  Matt
2 years ago

Yeah, that’s exactly what Phil of Religion should do!

Matty Silverstein
Matty Silverstein
2 years ago

Two of my favorites (from the same Logic course a few years ago):

“Prof. sometimes wore white pants and/or white shirts while using very inky dark blue whiteboard markers. This made me nervous for him.”

“Professor can be an asshole but a really cool kind of asshole that makes you learn so much and have fun in class.”

Justin Price
2 years ago

“Justin was always helpful and at first the class thought he was a bad teacher, then we realized it was just a really hard course. After we had a sub who truly was a bad teacher we realized justin was an amazing teacher. He was always willing to help and nice to all students and i enjoyed going to his class everyday.”

The old get your friend to be the bad teacher trick worked on these evals for my Logic course, would recommend.

Sara L. Uckelman
2 years ago

My favorite eval comment was the one that said my class was simultaneously the most terrifying and richly rewarding one the student had taken at uni (they were graduating that year.)

Michael Kremer
Michael Kremer
2 years ago

Elementary Logic has produced some great ones.

A few years ago:

The infinitely chipper Michael Kremer, in the unholy hours of the morning gets to class 10 minutes early, adjusts his small cotton sweater-vest, and thinks about how to best present a material that is absolutely destitute of joy and happiness, in a fashion that’s somewhat palatable. Sometimes he is successful. More often than not, he fails. I dislike logic. I dislike the concept. I dislike the material. I dislike the authors. My entire attitude towards this course was a resounding “I WOULD PREFER NOT TO”. This has most certainly impacted my opinion of the course and the substance. Every day I would get to class early with a coffee and a book to mentally prepare me for what was about to come, and every day, without fail, I almost fell asleep as the Kremer began lecturing about some of the most boring material in the world. There was a student that always came to class 10 minutes late, sat next to me, and promptly proceeded to fall asleep, his head resting dangerously close to where I liked to prop my shoulder against the armrest. Did I blame him for sleeping? No. Could he have done it somewhere else? I really would have preferred it. Regardless, this is the atmosphere that permeated throughout Elementary Logic: exhaustion, reluctance, and my silent mental screams heard only by myself, begging whatever divine entity that was listening in on my thoughts at that particular time to end my suffering. Towards the end of class, when Kremer had decided he had sufficiently presented the material I would reflect at the circumstances of my suffering, and realize I was insignificant in relation to the cruel, indifference of the universe. That made me feel better about myself, and I usually ended up enjoying the last five minutes of class, as Kremer profusely apologized for having made some miscalculation when completing his 60 line proof. Honestly, Kremer did the best he could and I like him all the better because of it, but my distaste for logic has poisoned whatever motivation” (comment ends without a period)

And then Elementary Logic, over Zoom this year:

“The only solace I found in quarantine.”

You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Matt
Matt
Reply to  Michael Kremer
2 years ago

[Signed]

A. Camus

That was absolutely wild and I loved every second of reading it.

Nathaniel J Goldberg
2 years ago

The joys of Zoom: “Professor was the exact right amount of assertive about his views, but should show his cat to the camera more often.” (The student likely meant my views about my cat.)

David Velleman
David Velleman
2 years ago

“Get some new goddam shirts.” This provided the theme for years of Father’s Day gifts from my kids.

Linds
2 years ago

“More drawings, I start seeing the penguins now.” Apparently my penguin drawings look like turtles…

John Collins
John Collins
2 years ago

I know Professor Collins has Ten Year, but he should be fired anyway.

Don Garrett
2 years ago

“Professor Garrett made this subject seem more interesting than it really is.”

Huseyin Gungor
Huseyin Gungor
Reply to  Don Garrett
2 years ago

Loving the player, hating the game…

tenure track humanoid
2 years ago

I will forever cherish one that was a comment on both the TA and professor (who I won’t out but who was also amused!) for an introductory logic course I TA’d for in grad school, which was something like:

“Horrible teachers, math geniuses, and absolutely nonapplicable material make this class the worst I’ve ever taken. The class climaxed at the very last lecture in… learning how to add two plus two. Ground-breaking stuff here in (University X).”

Travis Timmerman
2 years ago

I literally hate philosophy and this turned out to be one of my favorite classes.”

That’s either high praise for my course or a really disparaging claim about every other course this student took.

Dirk Baltzly
2 years ago

I suspect I’m not interesting enough to garner really positive or really negative student evaluations. But I well remember one of the professors I TA’ed for in the mid-1980s. He had a framed student evaluation form on the wall of his office. (These were, of course, handwritten back in 20th century.) It said simply:

THIS CLASS MADE ME THINK. I HATE TO THINK.

Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Carolyn Dicey Jennings
2 years ago

I love my students, and they left such nice, thoughtful comments this year (e.g. “What I liked about the course was her book which was interesting…” 😍). But I find it amusing that I bring a critical eye to even these comments. I am guessing other philosophers are the same way; it is in our blood. This one, for example, I read as somewhat negative (“to the best of her ability”), even though I am pretty sure it was intended as fully positive: “I believe this instructor has done an amazing job to teach her students the course to the best of her ability, especially during a pandemic.10/10. Thank you.” It is silly that a student can say 10/10 and that I read 8/10. I sometimes with I could turn that off.

Mena Gomez
2 years ago

Every time I come to your course, I feel like you put an Alkaseltzer in my brain 🧠.

Michel
2 years ago

From Intro Ethics:

“I would have appreciated it if we covered the topic of Morality.”

Kevin
2 years ago

An international law course (I teach both philosophy and IL):
“F*ck you, I’m a pirate.”
I think the student was interested in the Law of the Sea.

Shamik Dasgupta
2 years ago

“Dasgupta has an unfair advantage over my other professors. He has an interesting accent and cares about his content.”

APC
APC
2 years ago

It was only recently that I’ve finally realized and admitted to myself that I hate (physically) being in class. This is nothing against [APC] by any means, but I credit this class with being the one to help me come to this revelation. I’ve always felt like my life was being drained away with every second sitting their [sic], just listening to someone talk at me for about an hour, always thinking about getting out. It sapped me of any energy, and for whatever reason, this class seemed to do that exceptionally well.

Amy Seymour
2 years ago

My all-time favorite evaluation simply stated, “She’s not as funny as she thinks she is.”

david
2 years ago

A student wrote only “get a belt” on the comments section of the eval. No other comments or boxes checked.

Whitney J Schwab
2 years ago

“started the semester awkward” on an otherwise blank page.

Fair Enough
2 years ago

For Intro to Philosophy: “All we did was discuss and debate different topics!”

Thalia
Thalia
2 years ago

‘Instructor is a malignunt duarf’. I am (evidently) unsettlingly short in stature. Also I correct misspellings on papers.

Aaron V Garrett
Aaron V Garrett
2 years ago

From Rate My Professors, not a student evaluation. Combined Derek Jarman’s Blue and Satantango into one film. But I felt it really captured the essence of my Philosophy of Film class:

the guy is clearly crazy. he likes this movie that is just a blue screen and 17 hours long. apparently his ta’s have both watched it… seriously? he also makes u read emma and compare it to clueless which is a bad combination for any guy that doesn’t like chic flicks or jane austen (90% of dudes?)

jim hamilton
2 years ago

A colleague reported that he received this same exact comment ten years apart: “This course is too hard for the average student to get an A in.”

Guy Crain
2 years ago

From rate my professor:

All of the assignments were created by him, so say goodbye to quizlet for this class.”

Gordon
Gordon
2 years ago

“Give the man whatever he wants. He knows his stuff”

kurt
2 years ago

After a Rousseau seminar: two different students. 1) “This course made me a Marxist” 2) “This coure made me appreciate fascism.”