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Guy Goes Onto Reddit to Whine About His Professor; Professor Shows Up in the Comments to Address Complaints, Be Sarcastic

By Petr Knava | Social Media | March 15, 2018 |

By Petr Knava | Social Media | March 15, 2018 |


So a little while back, this bloke attending the University of Waterloo in Ontario was unhappy with one of his professors. Specifically the one teaching him CS 136—Elementary Algorithm Design and Data Abstraction. To vent his grievances, the student took to Reddit, where he published a wee diatribe against his lecturer, one Dave Tompkins. It went like this:

Dave Tompkins is overrated from r/uwaterloo

Now, obviously, that is nothing compared to that asinine and offensive anti-BLM gibberish spouted by some people that we covered a little while ago. But there is nevertheless a delightful similarity, in that the professor saw fit to respond to the complaints directly.

Here, look, astern, coming in out of fog, it’s SS Dave Tompkins!

And a transcript for those who might need it:

Dude…. I ALSO think I’m overrated.

— pauses to think about his response while he has a sip of Coke Zero — *
I’ll be honest, when I started to become infamous for having good student evaluations I started to get nervous. I thought that student expectations would be way too high, and then they would be very disappointed when they were actually in my class.

It’s kind of like when you have a crush on someone and then you go on a date with them and then you realize that they’re not nearly as great as they were in your mind’s eye.

Oh… shit… I forgot… you don’t like it when I use dating analogies. But please note that I didn’t actually specify a gender there. I’m usually pretty careful when I joke about dating and relationships to be gender neutral… sometimes I slip, but I try not to… so I do take offense when you say I joke about “picking up girls”. I don’t think that’s a fair or accurate representation.

I’m sorry you can’t relate to that kind of humour, and I can empathize… I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 25. But when I was an undergrad, I thought about losing my virginity. A lot. And I tried to date. Miserably. I guess I tend to do “relationship humour” because it tends to get a positive reaction, and I’m a Pavlovian junkie. but I’m open to new material. Tomorrow I’ll joke about batteries.

So back to high expectations — for most of my life I actually preferred to be underrated. I’d rather someone have low initial expectations from me and then surprise them. It’s definitely a good strategy at the poker table. I do get nervous when people have high expectations, and this post feeds my insecurity and shakes my self confidence. If my lecture sucks tomorrow I’m definitely blaming this post.

And boy, do some of my lectures suck. Pretty much after every lecture, I walk away from it being very critical of myself, second guessing myself and thinking about how I could have done things better.

To address the OP’s comments:

The bimodal nature of CS 136 — students with (EITHER “very little” OR “lots of”) experience — is very tricky. I acknowledge that a lot of you will “get it the first time”, or may have “gotten it years ago”, but I can’t assume that of everyone. My only strategy is to try and be entertaining and present things in a different perspective for the veterans so they don’t get bored. From the rest of your post, I’d guess that approach is failing for you.

Oh, I have bad jokes and I don’t always apologize for that. Personally, I don’t shy away from a 5% joke — where only 5% of the students will “get it”. I’m also not afraid of making a bad joke that completely bombs. A bit of life advice from me… throughout your life you will hear a lot of bad jokes. You can spend your life rolling your eyes and nudging the guy beside you: “can you believe this hack?” or you can just enjoy it for what it is. Kind of like a bad fart. It’s also like when you’re on a date and your date makes a bad joke and … oh wait… never mind.

I think “disgusting” goes a bit too far, but I’ll give you that — I’m guilty — I drink too much coke zero. I wish I could get through 4.5 hours of lectures (and my life) without it, but I can’t. I’ve gone through 17 cans just writing this post.

This I completely disagree with. Most research on educational pedagogy also disagrees with you too. If you’re one of those people who “get it” the first time, then why don’t you get of your [email protected]#$!%# high horse and spend some time sharing some of your knowledge with that smelly person beside you instead of tuning out and doing your own thing for a few minutes. Guess what, in the “real world” you might have to spend some time with other people.

I agree Troy is a great, and so is Alice. I also think they’re both better than me. All I can do is try to get better. Constructive criticism helps, and there was some of that in your post, so thanks.

Following this, the user who posted the original complaint deleted his account.


Petr Knava lives in London and plays music

Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

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