“[D]o try to make it clear your heart hasn’t actually stopped beating.”

11 11 2009

I’ve written before of my fondness for Heather Cox Richardson’s “Richardson’s Rules of Order” over at The Historical Society’s Blog. In this case, however, she has really outdone herself:

Please remember that your professors are human and it’s hard work to stand in front of a hundred pairs of eyes and talk for an hour. In the last decade, students seem more and more to regard us as if we’re behind a screen, and seem to think they can talk, read, sleep, or just stare at us glassy-eyed without it having any effect on our performance. This is a shared enterprise. It’s hard to lecture to an apparently disinterested sea of eyes. If you don’t think a lecture hall is intimidating, take a minute after class some day to stand behind the podium and look at all those seats. Then imagine holding the attention of everyone in those seats for an hour, two days a week. Wouldn’t it be easier if the people there seemed interested? You don’t have to act like you’re watching U2, but do try to make it clear your heart hasn’t actually stopped beating.

Perfect. Just perfect.

Personally, I’ve started mentioning the Political Science professor I had in college who would stare at the ceiling while lecturing, as if he couldn’t bare to look us in the eyes because he had committed some unspeakable sin. I then explain that this always made me so angry that I try hard to avoid it. Therefore, I can actually see what you’re doing while I’m talking.

This last line always seems to get a laugh. It shouldn’t.


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