“What do I need to do to pass her class?” and “Does she fail a lot of students?” are among the countless questions students seek to answer before entering the class of a terror professor. In turn, Ms. Millete Zamora of the Marketing Management Department has her own questions for her students during the first day of class. Here are her comments on being one of the professors that students watch out for.
What is your definition of a “terror professor” and do you think you are classified as such?
I don’t have a definition of a terror professor because a terror professor is only to the perception of the students but, yes, I am classified as one. If you’re asking me what I think my students think a terror professor is, it’s not necessarily my definition. For the past years I’ve been teaching, a terror professor is somebody who is one, difficult to understand. Second, laging galit. Third, seldom gives a [high] grade. Fourth, gives a lot of requirements and fifth, madaming bumabagsak. In this particular definition, it sounds like I am a terror professor.
But there is another definition of a terror professor that I know exists. One is previously described and the other [type of terror professor] is somebody who just becomes terror because he/she wants to be mean. “Feeling” and always wants to “power trip”. There are those kinds of professors.
Make a distinction between the two. Because some students who have not had a terror professor like me and you tell them that I am a terror professor, will think that I’m mean [but] I’m not.
Contrary to being classified as a terror professor, there is a Facebook page that posts how much students appreciate you after they have taken you as their professor.
Yes, first impression is, “Huwag ka diyan, nangbabagsak yan”. So those who are bitter, failing my class will have other remarks and then those who are brave enough to enroll in my class will post the other half saying “no”.
Why do you usually start the semester asking your students the questions, “Did you bother to research who I am?” and “Why did you enroll under my class”?
Because of the reputation of being a terror professor, first definition and not the second. And what is it about what you heard that challenged you to enroll under my class. You know that I’m a terror professor and yet you still enroll. I just like asking. It’s something I do so I can find out who are the strong students or those who are “I don’t care basta pumasa lang ako.” You can see that even from the first day of class, I can be able to identify.
How do you handle being perceived as one of the professors to “watch out for”?
I don’t. I just be myself. I teach the way I teach. I don’t prepare to affirm or deny whatever it is people think of me. I have a pedagogy and I fulfill it. Whatever adjective you attach that afterwards is no longer my concern.
What are the advantages of being a terror professor?
There is a philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein who when teaching in class would “terrorize” his student. He tells his students, “I do not want tourists in my class. I would rather teach people who want to learn.” That’s why in the first day of class, those who drop have a notion that I am a terror professor. But remember, in the second day of class, we’re cool. I try to get rid of the “tourists” in my class. So if you will just believe that I will spoon feed you, you won’t learn anything and I’m going to waste my time. I want to teach the students who want to learn.
Is it true that you invite your students to share their knowledge with you outside the University facilities? How does this improve the student-teacher camaraderie?
Absolutely. But, it shouldn’t improve anything. It’s just a venue wherein you learn more things. At the end of the day, when you learn more things from me after a cup of coffee or a couple of beers, it makes you a better student somewhere else, it doesn’t matter whether or not we become friends afterwards.
How do you learn to extract knowledge or push your students beyond their limit and think critically?
It’s the background of me being a Philosophy major. I rely on the tried and tested process called the Socratic method. And if I have a good section, like the sections I had last trimester, then I bring it to the Hegelian triadic dialectic. These were two processes that my colleagues and I in the Philosophy program in the 1980s used to practice all the time and it helped all of us become good teachers.
What mark or unforgettable experience do your students carry with them after they have passed your class?
They become stronger. They gain more confidence and find out that there is an opportunity to say something and stand by it. Right or wrong and be praised for it. You are able to expect this already and not be afraid of it.
If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?
I doubt if anyone can describe me in one word. Besides, given my experience and the way I teach, I don’t think one word will suffice. It’s quite limiting. The temptation of describing me in one word and then stereotyping me by that. I also change, I also grow and move on so that one word is not appropriate. That’s why we have names.
This ends our interview. Thank you for your time and answers Ms. Zamora.
A number of students pick the period between enrollment for the next term until the first day class to ask their friends about professors. Terror is subjective. The ability to handle professors classified as such and maintain a good grade is probably marked as a student’s achievement.