Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


TAs, not professors, deserve most credit

Some staff needs a title change and others a title exchange

The term professor carries a falsely positive connotation. Most use the terms “teacher” and “professor” synonymously, as if a teacher professes and a professor teaches. Let’s set something straight with two letters – TA.

Teaching assistants are to give students additional attention and instruction, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’ve all had at least one TA who ultimately failed to meet that objective. We’ll dub them the outlier since most TAs exceed this objective by providing students all the attention and instruction for a class.


Why is it “all” instead of “additional”?

Confess, Profess

I will confess something that really isn’t a confession since it’s practically the norm on campus for those studying arts and humanities: If it weren’t for a weekly quiz during lecture class for one of my classes, I wouldn’t be going to any of my lectures.

Even last semester, I went to no more lectures than I could count on two hands.

This is not because I’m neglectful of my education, because I was hungover or because I would rather go to work and be paid – actually, that last one is a bit true – No. I nearly boycotted lectures because all professors did was profess, not teach.

Now is a great spot to define “profess.”

To profess is to “declare oneself skilled or to claim to have knowledge of something,” which I would not argue that professors on campus do. But according to “profess” also means “to lay claim to, often insincerely; pretend to.”

I think this fits the description of a professor more accurately.

Many professors pretend to teach, claim to be there for students and sure, they are experts in their field, but many are not experts when it comes to teaching that information to students.

As you will see by my name at the end of this article, I’m majoring in journalism. In one of my journalism classes, I asked my professor if she could spare 20 minutes to interview me as she would if she were on a news reporting job and I was a subject for the news. I asked for as little as I could from an expert (my professor) and even said that I could show up at her office hours or outside of them. And what did I get?

I got directed to a link where I could sign up for a mock interview through L&S Learning Support Services with someone who was never a news reporter and who had the intention of preparing students for job interviews.

While many students never reach out to their professors, they can’t say whether professors care or not. I, on the other hand, have reached out multiple times with discouraging success (so much so that I’m writing a column about it).

B.A. TAs

Now it would be wrong of me to assume that all professors pretend to teach, but I’ve been in higher education long enough and have had enough professors to know they are the majority.

It is with that experience that I look up to TAs and have empathy for them. They are doing the real and most difficult work of picking up the slack left by professors and actually educating, teaching and most importantly, interacting with students.

Now this column isn’t meant to offer TAs a slow clap for doing the hard work, although I think they deserve more credit and pay than they are given; nor is it a place for me to wish more professors were like TAs and would bring their students to the terrace and allow them to crack open a bottle while they learn.

This column is for the students who are fed up with professors who are yes, paid to be here for research, but also paid to be here for us.

This column is for the TAs, so they know that we, as a student body, empathize and respect them for taking up the challenge of actually dealing with us whilst the professors ignore us.

Full discloser: Most columns I write, I intentionally try to pick a side and let readers (you) make the counterarguments. With this article, though, let me be clear that I agree there are brilliant professors who teach successfully, there are professors who go the extra mile to help students learn outside of class and there are professors who cater to the individual who risks embarrassment by asking them – not the TA – a question. Alas, I did not choose the side to argue, the side chose itself.  

Garth Beyer ([email protected]is a senior majoring in journalism. 

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