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Coping up with a Perfectionist Professor

By Shawn Fernandez

I believe we all have our own unique ways to attain perfection. Most of us desire to be better and aim for what is best. Striving for perfection is really a good thing if it means seeking constant improvement of our character and our abilities.

However, there are some cases where being a perfectionist seems unreasonable. Having a wrong perception about it leads to the abuse of power, and a person with this kind of mentality becomes harsh and inconsiderate. This brings fear among the people he or she works with. It makes them feel little about themselves. They become hesitant to speak up their ideas and disoriented in doing their tasks, and so they often ended up doing the opposite of the perfectionist’s expectations.

I think this practice must be stopped. Aiming for excellence must not mean being insensitive towards the feelings of people around us. If you are trying to correct a person out of genuine concern, there is nothing wrong with that. But, if you do it just because you wanted to impose what you want, then you are being totally out of the line.

For instance, most students from junior and senior high school already have a thesis or paper research and it is normal to commit mistakes a couple of times in the beginning. Our professor made some corrections to improve our research and we applied those corrections in our work. We made a lot of attempts to make it better and this meant a lot of financial expenses in our part.

It had cost us a great deal of time. We had run out of resources so we offered to show our research by using machines like laptop of phone to be able to save money from reprinting, but our professor wanted our research to be printed. I didn’t know why she couldn’t grant that simple request. We followed her instructions though. After other rounds of exhaustive attempts in developing our research, our professor suddenly decided to change our research title. She said she wanted a better topic and it really made us feel so frustrated and annoyed, thinking what we have gone through, all the attempts, expenses, the time we have consumed, now have to be put to trash and go back to zero.

Were her actions justified? Was she just concerned about us having a better topic? Did she even consider our efforts? Our hardships? I know that being a professor she must have known better. She’s the expert in this field. We respect her for that. Deep inside me, however, I asked myself if her ways of dealing with people were right and acceptable. I felt that all our efforts had come to waste. It was really disappointing. It seemed like she did not value our sacrifices, that she only cared about having the research done the way that she wanted. But who were we to question? We were just her students, and arguing about the matter seemed inappropriate and disrespectful, wasn’t it? Or maybe we were just driven by our emotions. Maybe we saw her point in a wrong angle. I knew that as a teacher, it was her duty to correct us and educate us.

Maybe we were not used to such methods. To me, what she did was really quite rude. Perfection must not always mean we had to deal with people with an iron arm and a cold stone heart.

If I get the chance to become a teacher someday, I will not use one stiff method dealing with my students, because most methods are applicable to all. I will walk with them in the process, deal with them with a gentler spirit and make sure everything I do is for their growth.

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