by Craig Martin
Students often complain that my class is hard. My short answer is simple: “Someone has got to be your hardest professor—it might as well be me.” My longer response has more substance. “How many of you wish my class was easy?” Most of them raise their hands. “How many of you think my dean wants my classes to be easy?”
At that point I get startled looks that show they’ve never considered the question before. “At the end of the semester I report to him and not to you, and he wants my classes to be tough. I was hired to challenge you as students, and if you write on my course evaluations that the class was easy I’ll actually get in trouble with him.” At that point I usually get grudging acceptance, even if they still don’t like it.