Saturday, July 27, 2013

the wrong way to ask questions.

I got my bachelor's degree in computer science, but I went to a small liberal arts college (I started out in theater), and my major was a small minority of the credits needed to graduate. I took a lot of classes just because I felt like it, either for good material or a good professor. (People will tell you "choose professors, not classes," and while that's ridiculous as a universal policy, it's a decent rule of thumb.)

One semester I took a class on the Holocaust. The professor was from Union College, and was, to put it most plainly, a cranky motherfucker. Maybe that's how he managed being an expert on human horror. He was a good guy, as far as I could tell. He wanted us to learn, and he worked hard at it. But some people, when they have learned to be authentically themselves, are crabby bastards, and every sentence out of them feels like they're squirting you in the eyes with a water pistol.
One day Italy came up in a lecture.
"...going back to the architect of Italian unification, who was...?"
Awkward silence. Who the hell studies Italy? I took a year of European History in high school and I have no idea who he's talking about.
"Come on, you refugees from social studies class!"
Seriously? You learned about Italian unification in social studies? What society do you think you're teaching in?
Behold, the sound of 90 students thinking, "Who the hell is Garibaldi, and why did you think it was reasonable we should know that?".

(The class was amazing, by the way. Success in college means weathering these kinds of half-assed attempts at interactivity during lectures.)

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