Necrophilic Teaching

Many things went on at Unseen University and, regrettably, teaching had to be one of them. The faculty had long ago confronted this fact and had perfected various devices for avoiding it. But this was perfectly all right because, to be fair, so had the students.
«Interesting Times» by Terry Pratchett

Recently, I had my worst teaching experience ever. It’s not very eloquent … or nice … to put it this way, but the closest I can come to describing it is necrophilia (no, not from personal experience, thank you ;-)). But the metaphor fits, you really love something and give and give, but absolutely nothing is returned.

Really, really strange experience.

Watching the students during the lecture, it was like the class dog had been shredded by a lawn mower the day before. Even asking twice if anything was wrong did not result in any useful answer. It’s also unlikely that a television series ended badly, nor were there any sports events. Hmm, it was Monday, so perhaps the weekend was a bit excessive, but for all students? And drinking/doing drugs on Sunday? Unlikely.

Usually, I see a lecture as a conversation between the lecturer and the audience. A bit one-sided (I have a habit of talking … a lot), but a conversation nevertheless. But here … it was like throwing stones into the fog.

And yeah, the lecture wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t abysmal either. If a lecture is really bad, there is at least a negative reaction. But no reaction at all, that is strange.

Likely, there were a few who did pay attention and did listen, and I wonder how they felt. It’s one thing to be a lecturer in such a course (and I’m only giving a few guest lectures in that particular course). But being a student when the class is that … apathetic? That disaffected? Either you find your small cadre of student who actually want to use the time effectively and efficiently, or you study in hell. The stagnant non-fun kind.

But no matter what … very, very strange. Here’s hoping it was a fluke, or that the students shift. After all, they make or break their university experience themselves.

Categories: Feedback, General Tips, Improving your Creativity, Learning, Learning to do Science, Science, Something to Think About


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