How not to be a professor

Mr. Dillon describes himself as a “prickly guy,” but it may be more accurate to say he is the antitenure crowd’s straw man made flesh. In his 34 years at Charleston, he has received three official letters of reprimand, along with many negative evaluations from his supervisors and his students. (A sample review from “Dr. Dillon likes to make you look like an ass for asking him a question. He will never help you and enjoys confusion. … DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS.”)


Mr. Dillon’s teaching methods run to the Kafkaesque. He refuses to answer students’ questions with anything but questions. He says he sometimes purposely misleads students by making factually wrong statements in class, reasoning that students who did the reading should be able to correct him. (They rarely do, he says.) The professor is not interested in meeting students halfway; he believes it is more edifying to put them in a crucible and see if they are “critical, rational, mathematical, analytical” enough to intuit their way out.

Purposely making factually incorrect statements in class: what could possibly go wrong?

Stephen By Stephen

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Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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