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Grading the Glitterati Professoriat


New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks is teaching “Humility” to Ivy Leaguers. This semester, the conservative pundit will lead a global-affairs course at Yale on “traditions of modesty … in character building and political leadership,” according to the school’s course catalogue. Here, what students thought of the teaching of other celebrities who have stepped inside the classroom, based on reviews posted to

Paul Krugman
Has taught: The economics of the welfare state at Princeton University
RateMyProfessors score: 3.1 out of 5.0
Sample comment: “He routinely came to class unprepared, clearly had thought little about what he was to teach that day (much less how), and broadcast the impression that he was showing up only to justify his professor’s salary.”

Eliot Spitzer
Has taught: Law and public policy at City College of New York
RateMyProfessors score: 5.0
Sample comment: “Best class ever taken—worthy of an Ivy League institution. Real world experience, brilliant knowledge in economics and policy as well as law. Politics lean to the left, but so do everyone else’s in New York City.”

Kal Penn
Has taught: Contemporary American teen films at the University of Pennsylvania
RateMyProfessors score: 3.0

James Franco
Has taught: Directing for graduate students at New York University
RateMyProfessors score: 4.1
Sample comment: “Professor Franco is very studious and helpful. I’m not sure why everyone freaks out over taking this class.”

Maya Angelou
Has taught: World poetry and dramatic performance at Wake Forest University
RateMyProfessors score: 2.7
Sample comment: “Arrogant, spiteful, rude, boring … The only thing that humanizes her is the suspicion that her incessant bullying stems from an awareness of just what a fraud she is.”

Madeleine Albright
Has taught: “America’s National Security Toolbox” at Georgetown University
RateMyProfessors score: 3.7
Sample comment: “Brings amazing guest speakers.”

Tony Blair
Has taught: Religion and globalization at Yale University
RateMyProfessors score: 5.0
Sample comment: “Engaging discussions. No PowerPoint presentations. Much better than Al Gore’s class.”*

*Gore lectured on climate change at Yale in 2004. Sadly, no RateMyProfessors score is available for that appearance.

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