Crazy like a fox. What I learned from my *ahem* kookiest professor.
Her hair was wild and she wore coffee stained button-ups. She often forgot what she was talking about halfway through speaking, but she never let that stop her. She left notes on the classroom door the day of telling us that class was cancelled. She never graded projects on time. She was the most senior professor, but she was also the least respected. She was butt of many jokes in the art department.
Lory was my favorite professor. People often, frustrated, asked me “why?!” I usually told them I thought she was funny (which she was) and nice (which she was.) But looking back on my experience, she was more than that. She taught me more than any other professor.
These are the lessons I learned from Professor Lory (*name has been changed):
1) Show up or don’t. It’s your work
Lory was lenient at best, irresponsible at worst. She didn’t take attendance, and if you missed every class, it didn’t count against you. In fact, she often missed her own classes. You were invited to use the time to work on your projects anyway. If you came to class unprepared, that was fine too. She graded you based on your work. You were the one suffering from not getting the experience you needed, not her.
2) Go with the flow
Lory’s memory wasn’t what it used to be. There would often be changes to the project description days before it was due. (Though she would swear it was that way all along.) Tough cookies. You had to accommodate. Much like the real world. While I don’t believe she did this on purpose, it did teach us to get shit done even under uncertain or changing conditions.
3) Get feedback early and often
As stated before, Lory was often not in class. When she was, she didn’t go around to every student to see if they needed help. If you didn’t ask for feedback, she didn’t give it to you. But she graded you the same as those she helped. If you didn’t understand the assignment or needed some help getting started, tough fucking cookies. You should have asked for feedback.
4) If you want something, ask
Lory wanted to help. No one ever went to her for help, except for the few of us who actually liked her (and those who did, were practically cult fans). I was able to design the school’s Literary Journal because I asked. She gave me leads on jobs after graduation because I asked. She did the same for others because they asked. She didn’t offer to those who didn’t. Don’t be afraid to ask for the things you want. Almost no one does, so the odds are in your favor.
5) Value yourself and your work
Lory encouraged her students not to accept unpaid internships. She taught us how to charge for our work. She taught us that design is important. She taught us how to present work to clients and to defend our design choices. She made us photograph our projects with professional lighting for our portfolios. She taught us to be business-minded about our craft. This is the only lesson that (to my knowledge) was intentional, and she made sure that no one graduated before learning it.
Lory was few people’s favorite professor, though she was one of the sweetest women I’ve ever met. Her methods may have been madness, but I believe she taught all of us more than she’ll ever get credit for.
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