Some professors help us think inside the box
I was sitting at home filling out my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles valentines for the swim team members that I watch while I bounce up and down on the elliptical at the Rec Center, but then I got to thinking: no one deserves a valentine more than the teachers responsible for my education! What a great opportunity to express my gratitude! Here are some highlights from this spring that I’m grateful for:
On the second day of biology, my teacher put up a PowerPoint slide that said: “Phylogeny=a hypothesis about the relationships among different groups of organisms.”. The next slide was a multiple-choice clicker question: “What is the definition of phylogeny?”
He let us discuss the question with our neighbors, and after we finished voting, he brought up a bar graph that showed the number of people who had voted for each choice. While roughly 150 people had voted correctly, the other 80 people somehow got it wrong.
“Great! You guys always do better than my 12:00 class.” He was proud of himself. “Good job, guys.” Then, instead of explaining phylogenies to the 80 confused people, he quickly moved on to the next topic.
This same thing happens two or three times in each lecture. Thanks for making sure that I’m paying attention, Biology Professor. Without questions like these, I might get distracted and fantasize about killing you for making me buy a $40 clicker so you can penalize me for skipping your awful class that can be learned straight out of the textbook.
No one prepared you for the joyless world you now experience every day, so you must feel morally obligated to help us out and get us ready to accept the soul-crushing world that we cannot change.
My developmental psychology professor has assigned us a semester-long project called “The Notebook”. The project entails making detailed outlines of the textbook chapters. Our teacher explained to us that reading the textbook on our own and writing down our personal reactions will be something of a personal journey down the road to self-discovery. I suppose we’re all supposed to discover the apathetic machine that lies within each and every one of us.
Last week, in my upper-division psychology class, the professor handed out an article about the American health care system. She told us to read it, and that when we were done we would all share our ideas and any reactions we had to the article. “Finally,” I thought. “Here’s college. We get to learn about something going on outside our sick little campus bubble and really talk about it.”
When we finished reading, the teacher said: “Have you all played Grandma’s Trunk before?” I looked around and tried to make eye contact with one of my classmates to share my distress, but everyone was staring blankly down at their desks. “No? Ok, this is how it works: I say, ‘I’m going to grandma’s house, and I’m putting a picnic basket in my trunk,’ and then the next person goes and says, ‘She put a picnic basket in her trunk, and I’m putting Scrabble in mine.’ Then the next person has to say ‘She’s putting a picnic basket in her trunk, he’s putting a Scrabble in his,’ and then add his own, and so on. But instead of putting things we need for grandma’s house in a trunk, you’re all going to say what ideas your classmates had about the article in the order that they stated them, and then add your own. Better not go last, or you’ll have a lot of ideas to list!”
My classmates got down to business taking notes on what everyone said so that they could repeat the long list we were slowly creating. Not only did those of us with ideas have to simply state them in under 30 words rather than discuss them, but those of us without anything to say were forced to make something up.
The opportunity to talk about something current and controversial was squandered on twenty-five people mindlessly repeating sentences. But at least I learned a new game.
Not only do you CU professors make sure I get plenty of practice mindlessly typing up summaries, repeating nonsense, and following orders, but you also keep me so busy that I don’t have any time for creative thought or productive projects. You actually go out of your way to make sure I don’t participate in anything stimulating.
I’d like to thank you all for doing away with the education of the past that encouraged thinking, and for signing on to a new style that’s more formulated for today. My future boss will really appreciate the robot qualities you have instilled in me. After all, it’s a cubicle world, and we’re going to need lots of cubicle boys and girls to fill it.
Contact Campus Press freelance writer Stephanie Coyle at email@example.com