We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Professors are often put in an impossible position: Their students, regardless of IQ, typically have few actual academic skills when they arrive, and they know next to nothing substantive; yet they have an almost unassailable confidence in their belief that they are highly skilled and extensively knowledgeable. If a professor gives them honest feedback about the quality of what they produce, who would support him? The administration? The parents? The education school establishment? No, he would be on an island.
That is a lonely place, and it is expecting too much that more than a few outliers here and there would persevere. The students whom professors do care about are the small fraction who want to get Ph.D.s. Those students professors nurture. For all the other students, however, professors’ feelings tend to range from mild irritation to thinly veiled contempt.
But we cannot be too hard on the students, either. Ask even the serious ones what proportion of their classes they believe is actually worthwhile. Their answer: maybe 25 percent.
Perhaps this is why they feel so many of their classes are not worthwhile, "Their students, regardless of IQ, typically have few actual academic skills when they arrive, and they know next to nothing substantive; yet they have an almost unassailable confidence in their belief that they are highly skilled and extensively knowledgeable."
Perhaps they are carrying their know it all attitude into the classrooms. Now, I know many of the classes are what were called in my day, Mickey Mouse classes, but still attitude can allow students to learn even from those.
Maybe it's because I went to a university that had no attendance requirements, but I can't imagine saying that only 25% of my classes were worthwhile. If classes hadn't been worthwhile, I wouldn't have attended them. What's the point? My time was at a premium, because I was working my butt off. If I'd thought I could master the material in a course without going to class, you'd better believe I would have skipped class. In four years, I got away with that in exactly one class -- not because it was badly taught, but because it happened to cover a good bit of material I'd already had in an advanced high school class, and there were tutors available to get me up to speed on the parts I had missed. The acid test always was: could I ace the final? No one cared how I managed to get the information into my head as long as I got it there.
I think it's mostly the Liberal Arts courses where it's important to show up. You pick the teacher, not the topic. A wonderful Lit prof or History prof can inspire the way you read for the rest of your life.
Of course, you can get similar from The Teaching Company.
Regarding the students' opinions on 25% worthwhile classes: I think there are errors on both sides of that assessment. I remember thinking of some classes as well worthwhile at the time but realized later that they were just entertaining. Others that I hated and thought were just kind of abusive turned out to be some of the ones where I actually got my education.
Part of the unspoken of scam in student evaluation of teaching is that students aren't very good evaluators of teaching, though they are very good at assessing the entertainment aspect of a class.