Can’t understand the preceptor, eh?

Ask anyone about his thoughts on the precept system and you will be sure to get an earful. For my part, I have precepted three undergraduate courses over the years. Although it can be rewarding, precepting does have its downsides. One annoying aspect is that every year I will read an opinion in the 'Prince' by someone who is unhappy with her preceptor. Invariably she will rail about her preceptor's dearth of talent in teaching and poor command of English. Some of the beefs that students have are legitimate, but sometimes they are just inane. I recall an incident several years back that amused and angered me. A former colleague of mine, John Woo (not his real name), related an interesting story to me. Born and raised in upstate New York, Woo is as American as apple pie. When Woo was "serving his time" he was a very popular teacher. Indeed, in the year prior to us meeting, he had won a distinguished award in teaching. Students would pack the classrooms where he taught, and there were always more students who wished to be enrolled in his section than the registrar's office would permit. One day, early in September several…




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