Friday, July 16, 2010

Pretentious Academics - Dealing With The Know-It-Alls!

Remember that kid in your tutorial who always acted like they knew everything? They dominated tutorial and you could never get a word in edgewise. Or that professor who never had time for you and rolled their eyes in exasperation when you were confused about a certain aspect of their lecture. Listen, I know you have a PhD from Harvard, but couldn't you help me out a little?! :(

If there's one thing that annoys me about the world of academia, its the fact that some people not only think they know it all, but they act that way too. They've received thousands of dollars in research grants, published articles in journals all over the world, and have been recognized as a top academic in their field of research. But seriously? Sometimes I think it all goes to their heads!!!

For example, I recently joined an academic discussion forum to discuss various controversial issues. But there's one guy that annoys the crap out of me (don't worry, I highly doubt he's reading this. LOL). He interrupts people when they express an opinion, boasts about his research papers & his quest to finish his PhD, and mocks people who don't agree with his arguments. It's downright rude, and he is a pretty good example of a Pretentious Academic that exasperates me the most.

Can academic achievements potentially influence someone's personality? After meeting many people at UofT very much like the guy mentioned above, sometimes I think so. Success inflates ego. And if there's one thing thing the world of academia needs sometimes, its a shot of humility.

I'm not downplaying their achievements. In fact, I'm so in awe of them. I'm still on my quest to achieve multiple degrees of my own! (I'm trying to calculate how old I'll be when I'm finally done school. Ahhh, so old!). But I find that academic know-it-alls are not attractive by any means.

Your intelligence & knowledge shouldn't alter your personality. Kindess, generoisity, and a willingness to help those trying to learn from you matters too. Easy-going personalities can still find its way into a lecture hall. In fact, they are more than welcome!

I always appreciated the professors and TAs who patiently helped me me with my papers and gave me advice not only on my research but on my academic plans for the future. (Yes, Professor Hirschl, I'm talking to you!). If there's one lesson I'm going to take with me as I head to Queen's in September, its the fact that your knowledge doesn't have to change your personality. Students appreciate kindness. Always remember that if they try, academics can be likeable too!

"Worry more about your character than your reputation. Character is what you are, reputation is merely what others think you are."


  1. Argh, isn't it funny that I went to a similar discussion group and met someone similar to who you just described? Someone needs to take them down a notch or two...

  2. haha, i concur with this quote i read ages ago-
    "Intelligence should be like underwear, everyone should have it, but no one should be showing it off"

  3. Well said, Barbara. I think it's all the wine and cheese these people eat. Or maybe it's their love affair with tweed jackets and all things Stephen Fry, I don't know,...or as they would say: 'One wonders....' A-Ha-ha-ha-ha! Pardon me while I get back to saving the seals and perusing the Guardian for that 'just perfect' summer villa in Provence or Tuscany. A-ha-ha-ha-ha!