Anyone who’s ever hung out in the halls of academe will want to devour Terry Caesar’s clever article on over at Inside Higher Education:

“One thing you immediately learn when you visit RATE is that students generally seem to care more passionately than you realized, and some are able to write with more wit than you saw in your own course evaluations,” he writes. “A Top Twenty from the site circulates online, including ‘Three of my friends got A’s in his class and my friends are dumb,’ ‘If I was tested on her family, I would have gotten an A,’ and, my own favorite, ‘BORING. But I learned there are 137 tiles on the ceiling.’

“From a reader’s point of view, who cares if these comments are accurate? They’re fun to read. From a colleague’s point of view, who cares if just about any comments are just? They’re irresistible to read, like gossip. RATE opens up the whole evaluative process insofar as teaching is concerned. Suddenly students get to say what they really think, not just to themselves but to a potential audience of thousands. Rather like guests on certain afternoon television talk shows, individuals feel inspired to be more recklessly candid.”

In other words, sites like this are doing for educators what blogs are doing for journalists: the pros get to be publicly judged (and often smeared) by unqualified amateurs–who are also their customers.

Caesar doesn’t mention the counterpart underground site Rate Your Students, now in estivation for the summer. It may make better reading for rant-lovers over 30, and in any case the slackers and nimrods often vilified there aren’t named or shamed in public as the teachers are.

And yes, there is one for high schools nationwide. No doubt there are pearls of wisdom buried here somewhere, but this randomly selected comment will do for most: “she is f-ing awesome she passed me and I never showed up 4 swimming!!”