Tiny Things That Can Kill You

All Teachers Great and Small

This story was originally published on my vet school blog, “Wet Cleanup on Aisle 5.”

This semester, we are taking bacteriology, virology, and parasitology all at the same time. Or, as I like to call them, “tiny little things that can kill you.”

When friends ask what classes I am taking in vet school, they typically zone out after the third class, so it’s just easier to lump things together. Last semester, it was “a lot of -ologies.”

The downside of taking all three of the tiny-things-that-can-kill-you classes simultaneously is (interjection by cat #1: mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm n) that there is a LOT of rote memorization.

The thing I find incredibly fascinating (and annoying), though, is how differently these classes are approached by the three professors teaching them. I mean, they’re all pretty similar subjects, but one of them is my FAVORITE CLASS EVER, and one of them is my GOING-TO-GO-POSTAL WORST CLASS EVER. Complete opposites. Two extremes. But pretty much the same type of material. In the one class, my grade is close to 100%. In the other, I am doing enough to pass.

The difference isn’t the course material. It’s the way that material is presented by the professors, and the attitude that each has toward teaching. For example:

Professor 1: Returned our first exams, which included a written (and therefore hand-graded) portion, the morning after we took them.

Professor 2: Told us that if a computer conked out while taking an online quiz, that was our problem.

Professor 1: Does not treat all organisms equally. Those that are most commonly seen in practice (and/or more likely to show up on the board exam) are clearly emphasized, and important points are made clear.

Professor 2: Wants us to memorize every detail of every organism. Every piece of information seems to be as important as every other piece, leaving us with no idea of how to prioritize studying.

Professor 1: Gives us exact copies of the PowerPoint presentations used in class.

Professor 2: Refuses to give out the PowerPoint presentations, and instead gives out written notes, which, 90% of the time, do not correspond with the PowerPoints, leaving us feverishly flipping from page to page in order to catch up. When asked to slow down, Professor 2 responded that we ought to have learned to take notes by now.

Professor 1: Assigns helpful open book quizzes every week (which again emphasize the most important concepts), and optional case studies wherein we can apply what we’ve learned.

Professor 2: Well, you get the picture.

Once again, I am completely annoyed by the fact that academia is not a consumer-driven industry.  As a consumer, I’m really thrilled with my first purchase.  The second purchase I’d really like to return, but can’t.  Tiny things that can kill you, indeed.

About The Author

LaShelle Easton is a veterinarian, animal communicator, and author who hates describing herself in those terms because they put her in a box and leave out the fun stuff, like budding guitar player, chocoholic, tea lover, bookworm, crazy cat lady, computer geek, dinosaur fan… She lives on the edge of the North Cascades with The World’s Greatest Husband and their woggledog, cats, chickens, and sloth.

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4 thoughts on “Tiny Things That Can Kill You”

  1. That was what I HATED about Micro — every single organism was given equal priority, and the sheer number of details we needed to memorize about each organism was staggering. Plus they WERE all tiny little unconnected details, so there was no big picture to use as a framework. It was basically just a ridiculous amount of rote memorization, mostly about bugs I’ll probably never see in my life. Blech. Glad that one’s over! 🙂

  2. This made me laugh! Over 40 years ago, I stood up in speech class and the topic was centered around students being able to rate teachers. The teacher left the room in tears! I don’t remember what grade she gave to me…and wondered how she came up with the grade since she never heard the middle or the ending of my speech.

  3. I love this post. You are so right. The experience you have with each subject is very dependent on the teacher. I’m in my second semester at UCD. We have some teachers that are great at powerpoint presentations and giving clinical examples. Then other teachers who obviously do not like the subject they teach and instead of a lecture they play a 40 minute video on embryology every week. The last kind is sort of an inbetween, loves his subject but not so good at condensing and organizing.


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