How to deal with the situation where you think a lecturer is wrong

There will come a time when your lecturer will teach a wrong thing in class. This will happen for two reasons. First, nobody knows it all. Second, we are all prone to mistakes. As a student, you must learn how to properly handle a situation like this or you could fall victim to it during examination. In the exam hall, you don’t want to be stuck, wondering what the lecturer expects – his wrong information or what is correct. At such a crossroads, failure is very likely. Here are easy-to-follow steps on what to do when a lecturer teaches a wrong thing in class.

Never assume your lecturer is wrong

The fact is, your lecturer knows way much more than you do. You are not his intellectual equal, by any standard. Keep this glued to your mind. When he teaches, listen without doubt. Never assume that he is wrong. Your brain is too little to make such an important decision on its own.

However, whenever you get the feeling that the lecturer has taught something wrong, take note. Preferably, write it down somewhere in a notebook. Consider this a confusion that needs further elaboration.

Ask a question

You are confused about something the lecturer said. At the end of the class, put up a hand, and ask a question. Remember, you are not challenging what in your little mind, you consider to possibly be wrong. You are to ask from a position of ignorance (which is exactly where you are). You are asking to be taught.

Don’t say “Sir, I don’t agree that ….” Or “Sir, I think you made a mistake…” Rather, say “Please ma, I need more explanation on…” Or “Ma, something confuses me…”

Then listen, with an open mind. If after your lecturer’s efforts, you are still confused, delightfully thank him and sit down. Don’t argue. Even if he is totally goofing, don’t confront or mock.

Here’s a post on how to generally ask a question on campus.

Conduct an extensive research

When you get home, carry out an extensive research around the confusing information. Don’t just stop at a lazy search on Google; consult textbooks; do a deep internet search; consult another lecturer.

Your lecturer is an authority in his field, so treat this research with every seriousness. Don’t be quick to conclude that he was wrong and you were right to doubt. Study deeper. Don’t just read a sentence; expand to paragraphs; read the entire chapter. Search the internet thoroughly, reading from many sources. Ask another lecturer.

Go and meet the lecturer in question

If in the end of your extensive research, you still think the lecturer was wrong, go and discuss it with him. In private. Don’t bring it up in class. It might turn into an ugly destructive argument, which you will end up paying dearly for.

When you have your privacy with him, meekly table your confusion. “Sir, I enjoyed your class on …. While reading further, I came across something and got confused,” you should say. If he doubts your personal findings, show him an evidence – a textbook or a journal article. Those are sources your lecturer trusts.

There are two possible outcomes in this. First, he admits he was wrong. Or he stands his ground. In the latter scenario, believe him at face value. Chances are, he is right, and the textbook is wrong! Slim though, but possible. So, accept what he says and move on.

Deliver what you were given

For these scenarios: the lecturer stands his ground on the supposedly wrong information; you are not even able to fact-check the confusing information; there is one course of action to take during tests and examinations. Give back what you were given, right or wrong!

In that examination hall, the time for deliberation is over. On the answer sheet, supply the exact same information you were given in class, wrong as it may seem.

There is so much more to passing an examination; more than this article can contain. Campus Duty is planning to organize a free seminar on everything a student should know about preparing for an examination and writing it. It will be free, and will hold on an already existing WhatsApp group.

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