Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
lookatthedonutnotthehole

Professor ripped up my homework

Recommended Posts

Is it normal for graduate professors to treat you this way?  I'm going for a masters in graphic design and I originally imagined graduate school as a place where I am respected as a fellow artist, given freedom to do work I enjoy etc.  Instead I feel like being treated like I'm below the professors instead of like a fellow colleague.  In one of my classes we had an assignment to create 3 images and print them out.  I did the assignment and the prof. ripped up all of them.  He barely glanced at them before doing this in-front of the other students.  We were going over them in a critique.  He sort of did it jokingly but I still think it was wrong.  I proceeded to ask him what was wrong with them, and he gave valid answers, but I do not believe they needed to be ripped up.  I think its disrespectful.  I would never rip up someone else's artwork.  I mean it was done on the computer, but it still was something I worked hard on and invested my time and research on.  

 

Before that, we were instructed to create 2 other images (based on his choosing). I actually don't like the ones that he chose and prefer some of the ones he ripped up. So aside from him ripping up my shit, I have to work on his shitty ideas instead of my own.  This is my 1st semester and I'm trying to hang in there, but so far it just seems like a bunch of bullshit.  I feel like the professors are treating us like 12 year olds.  Is that normal in a graduate program?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you spoken to him about this candidly? Sometimes people are not aware of their actions: its time to be an adult. 

 

I would have found this incredibly insulting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you spoken to him about this candidly? Sometimes people are not aware of their actions: its time to be an adult. 

 

I would have found this incredibly insulting

 

 

No I haven't spoken to him about it.  I was just surprised when it happened and blew it off, but once I got home I was like wait a minute, that was wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't think that most faculty would treat graduate students as colleagues from the start- you're still a student. By the end of your degree you'll be a colleague, but you usually have to earn that respect and treatment. 

 

That said, I'm not as familiar with the behavioral norms in MFA programs with respect to ripping up your printed artwork, so no good ideas there. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my field, when it comes to personal interactions, professors treat new students with the same respect they would treat anyone else. That is, they don't hold their "rank" over other (more junior) professors, or postdocs, or students. So, something like ripping up homework, or personal insults would be completely inappropriate and unacceptable. That said, although my field (and I think much of science) do have the approach that ideas are only judged on academic merit, not personality, most profs will be more skeptical of a "crazy new idea" from a grad student than if it came from an established faculty member. That is, I do second Eigen's statement that respect for one's academic abilities is something that is earned over time. But, basic person-to-person interactions respect should always be there, no matter your academic reputation/rank.

 

I have no idea what the norms in your field are when it comes to things like ripping up homework / respect for one another etc. In my opinion, this should have no place in any university no matter the field. Even though I know I am an outsider to the field, if this kind of action is normal in MFA programs, I would advocate for the University to take actions against this program to not allow this kind of action. I understand that some fields just do some things differently, but I would argue that no field should have the privilege of professors destroying their student's work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...no field should have the privilege of professors destroying their student's work.

That's what red ink is for. But, such comments can actually be constructive and can help a student to grow and learn from mistakes. Completely destroying a piece of work just sends the message that 'this is bad' with the implicit message 'you are bad' I just don't see it as possibly being constructive.

 

I also do think that even though graduate students exactly colleagues of the professors, we are certainly not undergrads anymore and most of us have professional experience. I've personally made decisions for companies worth tens of thousands of dollars (and more) and I would get quite upset if a professor isn't willing to trust my judgement considering outside of the ivory tower I'd be a well-educated professional.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my field, when it comes to personal interactions, professors treat new students with the same respect they would treat anyone else. That is, they don't hold their "rank" over other (more junior) professors, or postdocs, or students. So, something like ripping up homework, or personal insults would be completely inappropriate and unacceptable. That said, although my field (and I think much of science) do have the approach that ideas are only judged on academic merit, not personality, most profs will be more skeptical of a "crazy new idea" from a grad student than if it came from an established faculty member. That is, I do second Eigen's statement that respect for one's academic abilities is something that is earned over time. But, basic person-to-person interactions respect should always be there, no matter your academic reputation/rank.

 

I have no idea what the norms in your field are when it comes to things like ripping up homework / respect for one another etc. In my opinion, this should have no place in any university no matter the field. Even though I know I am an outsider to the field, if this kind of action is normal in MFA programs, I would advocate for the University to take actions against this program to not allow this kind of action. I understand that some fields just do some things differently, but I would argue that no field should have the privilege of professors destroying their student's work.

 

Well I've been in the fine arts field for a while and haven't ever seen it before, but I have come across a few professors who are egotistical and act like they are above any laws or morals set in place by the school, so that's nothing new.  I think the fine arts field must attract people like this because art is all about ego.  I'm not taking it personally that he ripped it up.  It just made me realize that he's a jack-ass.  I also agree that academic respect is earned over time, but it goes both ways.  If teachers don't show respect to their students or their students work, how am I supposed to respect them?  I don't respect him academically now (or personally). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's what red ink is for. But, such comments can actually be constructive and can help a student to grow and learn from mistakes. Completely destroying a piece of work just sends the message that 'this is bad' with the implicit message 'you are bad' I just don't see it as possibly being constructive.

 

I also do think that even though graduate students exactly colleagues of the professors, we are certainly not undergrads anymore and most of us have professional experience. I've personally made decisions for companies worth tens of thousands of dollars (and more) and I would get quite upset if a professor isn't willing to trust my judgement considering outside of the ivory tower I'd be a well-educated professional.

 

Yep, I agree, ripping up something is conveying exactly that.  I worked on the thing for at least 5 hours so its not like it was something I threw together in 5 minutes with no thought whatsoever.  I want to do anyother project that says "fuck you" and put a big middle finger on it, print it out and see if he will rip that up too.

 

I too have professional experience. I'm probably 10 years older than some of the undergrads there so I'm not some dumb spring chicken straight out of highschool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Students don’t need to “earn” basic personal respect.  Basic personal respect (not the professional respect as an expert in the field, but respect for your human dignity) is something that all people deserve regardless of their educational background or achievements.  Ripping up your work in front of other people violates that basic personal dignity, and no, it’s not normal.

 

That said, professors are like all humans: they range in personality.  And some professors are assholes.  This professor sounds like an asshole.

 

One of the things that you will learn is that just because your professors are experienced and more educated than you does not mean that they are always right.  In the beginning, you will take more of their direction because you are new, and you need it.  As you become more advanced, you will take less of their direction, because you will be more experienced with a better handle on your own professional needs.  For example, the images.  You may not like the ones that he prefers, and you may like some of the ones he hates.  In the beginning, there may be some real professional reason why the works he chose are better (and sometimes asshole professors are unwilling or unable to explain why).  As time goes on, he may still be right - but you still have the professional ability to do what you want to do and take the consequences, good or bad, with that.  You also may see things from a different perspective or have different priorities (aka, he's choosing your work with the assumption that you want to be an academic artist at a university, whereas you are thinking of going a commercial route).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there's also a large possibility that you took it differently than he meant it. 

 

You said in your original post that he did it "jokingly", so perhaps he meant it more lightly than you took it. It's possible that explaining to him that you felt it was very insulting would make him realize his mistake, or it's possible he's just an asshole who will think you have too thin of a skin and don't have a good sense of humor. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an MFA, as well as teach at an institution, and I can tell you two things -

 

#1 - ripping up work is something that needs to be addressed.  That should not happen, ever. There are major egomaniacs in the system, but even many of the worst of those just dish out condescending or insulting comments about a work, or talk down about other students. Most of that is unprofessional personality b.s. that won't change, regardless of the fact that it is tacky as hell.  Destroying a work is not acceptable.  Joke or no joke.  It sends a very bad message, and should be addressed.  If you feel uncomfortable confronting him about this, at the very least, put in a negative comment in your end of semester review of the course, and outline the situation.  Those are normally reviewed by administrators, and are also normally anonymous. 

 

#2 - An MFA, although terminal, is still on much of a different level than a PhD. Regardless, you are not considered a colleague.  You will not be seen as having earned that until you graduate.  They will interact with you much differently than if you were an undergrad, and you will have more ability for input, etc. But you are there to learn, and they are there to guide/teach you.  What I generally advise my students applying to grad school is this:  In undergrad you learn the skills to base your art practice - the ways of making, and you begin to understand concept and context.  In grad school you will come in with the knowledge to create what you find your voice to be - the why's of making.  It takes time.  Your input from professors during your MFA will be much more about making work that reflects YOU.  You have a lot to learn still, let yourself be open to it rather than going in thinking you own a place at the table. You will find your professors to take issue with that, and they will behave in ways to put you in your place so to speak.  It happens a LOT.  I think many of us have done it.  Its part of the process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.