Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quirky Perky Professors @ UWI

Since my first week of lectures at The University of the West Indies, I have been eager to write about the extravagant professors at UWI. My view is geared towards the Faculty of Social Sciences, in which I was taking four psychology courses. Trinidad and Tobago (rather- the Caribbean as a whole) is known for running on an entirely different schedule of timings (or lack thereof). Knowing this, I channeled my inner zen in anticipation of long waits at the administration building and bus schedules which were very loosely followed. I did not expect it to apply to my classes, however!

Imagine my surprise when two of my classes consistently began 30-40 minutes after the actual start time. I was slower on the uptake than most, still showing up within 10 minutes of 5:00 PM and waiting around with the other earlybirds as the professor took his sweet time in arriving. He was a jolly man of Indian descent, with a thick graying moustache and a tendency to digress to talks of his family life.

In most classes at Towson, there is a clearly defined hierarchy in the room. Lecturers often close the door precisely the minute the class is due to begin, and any latecomers slink in ashamedly with their heads ducked, unacknowledged.

In my classes at UWI, the professor/student hierarchy is much more vague- if nonexistent- with a sassy, playful interaction. Students would arrive to class over 10 or 20 minutes after lecture began and pass by with a cheerful "good evening", to which the professor would interrupt his train of thought to respond with an equally kind "good evening". Several times during lectures, my professors would wander into the midst of the seating and settle themselves down on a bench beside the students, preferring a more balanced classroom than the teacher-at-the-podium setting. My Trinidadian professors made references to their participation in the drunken dancing festival of Carnival, a set of personal activities that would not be shared in the American classroom setting.

Comparably, I had a professor from England who had fairly recently begun to teach at UWI. Her style differed drastically from my Caribbean professors. She maintained the hierarchy of professor to students, standing in front of the classroom or atop the stage in the lecture hall, and using a microphone.

By the end of the semester, I was occasionally frustrated but overall appreciative of the quirky professor at UWI, each with their personality on full display.

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