When I was going to Ryerson in the 90s, I had a crazy, brilliant sociology professor named Murray Pomerance. Murray was often seen sporting some amusing guinea pig hair, imagine a variety of mohawk or forward-pointing ducktail. In my mind, the hair was because he seldom slept and when he did, it was in his office from 5-7:55am.
If it weren’t for Murray I’d have probably been sucked into the vortex of mass media’s thoughtless reporting and tireless quest to be first with the scoop (so instead of media it’s the maddening major label music biz. LOL). To be fair to my influencers pre-Murray, I was already leaning to the investigative side of life but could have been easily led astray. Murray grounded me and really taught me that spouting off shit about McLuhan didn’t mean I was thinking, it actually meant I was being another vapid vehicle for other people’s expression. It was amazing when I recognised that I’d never really thought about anything critically and was just beginning to learn how to do so.
Murray was quite controversial and as his student, you either loved him or hated him, there was no in between.
The haters hated him because he’d ask you to leave class if you came in at 8:01. Even if the subway really had caught fire and you really did deliver five pregnant ladies and a goat to safety. Too bad, not Murray’s problem, out! Sometimes, he’d also ask the outspoken, argumentative folks to move and sit across the room from one another. I guess to engage the room and get everyone involved. He also yelled frequently about apples (“it’s not an apple”), the power elite, Frederick Wiseman’s Highschool documentary, and well, anything else that excited him.
I always thought Murray was professional and passionate. His class was a circus everytime and I deeply appreciated that break in monotony. And it was obvious how much he cared about his students’ brains.
I was reminded of Murray just recently when I stumbled across a web site called ratemyprofessors.com. Of course I looked him up straight away and the commentary and ratings speak to exactly what I’ve just described. He’s a maniac with a method, equally loved and hated.
I wish the interweb existed when I was in grade 4 so I could have graded the dreaded Mr. Martin. Mr Martin was so out of line it wasn’t funny. He made the non-christian kids leave the classroom for half an hour every day while he read us the bible (hello, this was public school!). He yelled at a girl named Lena every day for not remembering the previous day’s biblical tale (she was Eastern European and spoke very little English). He called me a black sheep one day after class, but why I can’t remember now. When he spoke to me like this I refused to cry, I bit my lip instead. Mr. Martin also decided to take one of my sweaters home to wash (I spilled chocolate milk on it) and when he gave it back he said it was probably the cleanest any piece of my clothing had ever been. My parents smoked like fiends so I’m sure I smelled of cigarrettes all the time but I was ALWAYS clean. You’re a big jerk Mr. Martin, with your big flaky head and mountains of shoulder ‘druff.
But back to ratemyprofessors… So we’ve all become each other’s little big brothers in a sense. But is this a healthy forum? Are people lashing out against profs for bad grades? And is it really productive to include a hotness rating?? LOL
I will say this, next time I take a university course (I will finish my damn degree one day) I probably will engage in a little ratemyprofessors research myself.