David Richeson

Associate Professor of Mathematics  


Professor Richeson's Top Ten Pet Peeves


Everyone has his or her pet peeves—you know, those things that really get under your skin (drivers in the passing lane who go 10 mph under the speed limit, the bad grammar in the ‘ten items or less’ sign at the grocery store, drivers who cut diagonally across the parking lot, people who assume everyone uses Windows PCs, etc.).  You may not know it, but professors have pet peeves too.  Here, in no particular order, is a list of ten things that get under my skin.

  1. no capital letters in an email. FYI, IMO it is inappropriate for U 2 email YR professor using AIM shorthand.  BTW….it would B GR8 if U used punctuation 2....K? THX! :-)
  2. Ringing cell phones.  There are times when you need a cell phone in class.  A student of mine took a phone call during an exam.  It was her mother calling to tell her that her ailing grandmother had just passed away.  A colleague at another institution had a student who needed his phone on because he was waiting to hear from his parole officer!  If you are expecting an important call and need to leave your phone on, that is fine, just let me know in advance.  Otherwise, turn your phone off, or leave it at home! 
  3. Assignments torn from a spiral-bound notebook.  As an undergraduate, I went through a "green" phase during which I turned in all of my assignments on the back side of paper from a recycling bin.  That probably annoyed my professors.  That wouldn’t bother me now, but ragged edges do.
  4. Late arrivals. In Tome the classroom doors are located in the front of the room, so it is impossible to “sneak in” to class unnoticed.  This is a small campus; you can get to class on time. 
  5. "Is this going to be on the exam?"  or the related "do we have to know this?" Don’t ask it.  Everything is fair game.  Besides, we’re all here for the joy of learning, right?
  6. Typing during class.  Like fingernails on a chalkboard to me!  C’mon, you can wait one hour to check your email.
  7. Whispered conversations.  If it is about math, that’s fine.  Otherwise, wait until after class.
  8. Lame excuses.  If you didn’t do your homework, don’t tell me about how your friend’s dog ate it after your roommate turned off your alarm because your coach told you couldn’t miss practice because there was a death in the family.  Just say that you didn’t get your homework done.
  9. "Can I do some extra credit?"  Devote the time you would have spent on extra credit to trying to master the course material.  It will be worth more than the extra credit, trust me.  Besides, extra credit is like a regressive tax---the rich get richer.  Typically strong students do the extra credit, struggling students do not.  It exaggerates the grade gap.
  10. Eating potato chips while talking to me on the phone.  OK, this probably won’t come up, but it really gets on my nerves!