What They Don’t Want You to Know: Debunking Uni Lecture Myths

Myth: Lecturers at my University sound so monotonous that I could fall asleep

Fact: All lecturers are pretty much the same and thousands of students are falling asleep

The Reason?

The word lecture, like so many of our finest words, comes from Latin lectus, which literally translates as ‘the action of reading’. That’s right. Before the advent of PowerPoint and ADHD, no academic gave a flying hoot about keeping a bunch of spoiled teenagers entertained while teaching them the world wasn’t flat and that the sky won’t come crashing down any minute. As lectus tells us, a lecture is merely a recital, a delivery of words already put on paper.

Way back when the lectures became the established norm, people couldn’t afford paper, not to mention being literate was kind of a big deal and left to the wealthy. Oh, and an average person’s library consisted of a half-a-dozen copies of the bible. Nowadays, Twilight and Dan Brown have taken over that crowning spot, yet lectures have largely stayed the same. Why? Because academia is very old fashioned.

Wait a minute... Did you say women can vote now?

What does this mean for you? No matter how much you whine and complain about your lecturers, know that they’re doing the same thing every other lecture has been doing for a thousand years. Reading off the paper (computer screen) in front of them. So, tough luck kiddo. That’s called tradition.

Close the door on the way out, you iPad-toting pussycake

Myth: The lecturers who choose not to put an electronic version of their lecture online do so because they know you learn best when you can maintain eye contact and engage with the lecturer while asking questions if something is not clear. Phew! That was a long explanation, and, therefore, quite clearly BS.

Fact: Video lectures cause significant drops in lecture attendance. If no students attend, the lecturer can’t do their job. Not to mention, the whole system starts to fall apart.

The Reason?

We’ve all been around people who continually defy logic and reason. We might have been able to walk away from some of them, but when it comes to the lecturers we are given, that becomes impossible. We are like abandoned kittens left at the stranger’s porch and consequent mercy. Please don’t drown us.

It’s not the worst thing in the world, admittedly, but most of us would prefer having the chance to listen to how to solve the Poincaré conjecture at least twice. And yes, I will admit that some people probably cheat the system and don’t physically attend the lectures. But that will always happen. You will always have the foolish few that try to take the easy way out. That’s no reason to punish the majority.

What do you mean alcohol doesn’t make an Engineer smarter?

Myth: Since most of the material will be taught to you in the form of a lecture, lectures must be the best way to learn.

Fact: Lectures are a quick and easy way to get the course content out there, so that other stuff that needs to be done can get done.

The Reason?

Don’t get me wrong, you may have a few lecturers who are also tutors, or who are really passionate about what they do and make you excited about your next class. But you probably don’t. Tutoring is quite a bit more challenging than lecturing, and requires actual teaching skills that most lecturers don’t possess or have forgotten. Why? Because most lecturers are not there for students, they duties are to primarily perform research and go to high-brow conferences.

Tutoring is also a job that is at the bottom of the academic ladder, which is why so many tutors are PhD and Masters students, and even they don’t stick around forever.

To put it simply, the academic system is structured in such a way to ensure that the people who work for the University system work for the University system. As a student, you pay fees to your university, the university pays salary to the academics, and the academics make money for the university through their research and professional representation. The more research they do (which includes writing and publishing), the better the university’s ranking is in terms of prestige, and, consequently, the more students that university attracts. It’s one giant cycle, and there’s very little that you can do about it.

Conformity. You better learn it good and early.

Myth: You should copy what is on the slides.

Fact: You should listen and note down all that is said that is not on the slides.

The Reason?

Lecturers can be pretty sneaky. As a way to reward those who rock up to those three hours of pain and torture, they may sneak in a hint or two about the sort of thing you can expect on the exam.

Hint: If you hear them saying something like: ‘it’s a possibility’, ‘there is a good chance’, ‘it wouldn’t hurt to revise X and Y’, then you can almost certainly know that those topics will be addressed in one way or another.

Captain Obvious drives this car.

Hint #2: Always come to the last lecture. Sometimes, only sometimes, your lecturer may forget to go over a topic which he or she had already included in the exam. This means he or she must then cover this topic in the last week of study. If it looks out of place or just plain strange, don’t question it, memorise it.

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  1. Greg says:

    Mate, do you even go to uni?

    All lecturers being pretty much the same is crap. There are great lecturers who love what they do and you can’t help but to pay attention.
    There are bad lecturers who have dull voices or bad delivery and don’t engage the audience, wihch makes you draw comics in your book or fall asleep.

    Slides are usually in dot form so the lecturers can still talk. Therefore only the essential rules, points, formulas and info are put on slides. If you dont copy down slides as well as pay attention you can miss out on helpful hints.

  2. Chewy says:

    Can we submit myths about uni that we’ve heard and have them debunked or verified?

  3. Kelly says:

    Ben, had a few issues with your article.

    Firstly, “Before the advent of PowerPoint and ADHD”? Since when was ADHD something that just arrived? You’ve treated it like a trivial matter when it’s not.

    Secondly, you make various claims that you state are fact. If so, perhaps you should back them up with some hard evidence before making presumptuous statements and passing them off as fact.

  4. Jchan says:

    I’m pretty sure Ben wrote this article with an underlying humorous tone that is not to be taken too seriously? Look at the pictures for example

  5. Benjamin Imamovic says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I’m sorry if my article has offended you, but, as Jchan has kindly pointed out, the article is meant to be humorous in nature. Regarding ADHD, it has been my impression that there has been an increase in the number of diagnosed patients in the recent times. It is certainly not a trivial matter, but it wasn’t the focus of the article.

    While I agree that I have not provided evidence for my claims, the purpose of the article was, above all, to entertain.

  6. Jake says:

    It’s called sarcasm guys….(This article is written in a style that reminds me of cracked.com anyone else get that vibe?)

  7. C&C says:

    <3 cracked.com, imo this website should have more articles like this one. a 50/50 balance between serious articles and ones like this would be awesome

  8. NgPeavis says:

    cool story bro

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