Sarah W's Demotivation Story

Mar 25, 2015 • Sarah W

In my first year at university, I started out going for a Bachelor of Science. At this particular university, you started out in general “science” and then could specialize – like Computer Science. So for your first year, you had to take a biology class, a chemistry class, a physics class, etc.

Enter Chemistry 101. I loved chemistry and entered into this university with a 4.0 GPA. On the first day of class, the professor introduced himself, and told us how he had just moved from Ontario. He then said, “Let’s start with a review” and wrote a very complicated problem set on the chalkboard. He said we should all be able to easily solve this problem. The entire class was completely lost. He then berated us for not remembering our high school chemistry. A bunch of us explained that we had never seen this problem before, but he kept insisting this was something we should already know. It did not get better.

Flash forward 6 weeks, the entire class is still lost and the class average is at 18%. At this point, faced with my first failing class of my life, I withdraw from the course (7 people left on the same day). I honestly thought something was wrong with me – why couldn’t I understand my favourite subject anymore? This drop sadly led me to lots of other class drops. I only figured out what went so wrong when I moved to Ontario. Ontario high schools (at the time) had an extra year of high school: Grade 13/OAC. British Columbia schools did not. My entire class had no idea what was going on because they actually had no idea what was going on. He assumed that we had the same level of knowledge as his Ontario students, and we did not.

What could have been done differently? He could have listened to our class and checked to see where our knowledge gap was. He could have adjusted the curriculum accordingly. Instead, he insisted the problem was with us.