Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Comedy

Kerry Soper's column in the December 5th Chronicle Review is one of the funniest you'll ever hope to see; check it out here. An exerpt:

If students get so frustrated that they start to leave, I tone things down a bit and reveal the details of my peer-at-the-rear philosophy. That includes doing an imitation of what my old teaching persona might have done, had he been there. After getting a taste of that pedagogical nerd, they seem to chill out a bit.

I lay the ground rules: They have to treat me as an equal, not an authority figure or even a knowledgeable mentor. This includes calling me by my first name (or a cool nickname like "Kerr Dawg" or "Super Soper") and greeting me with some kind of groovester handshake or laid-back fist bump. When that's settled, I throw up my hands, say, "Dudes, the class is yours!," and watch as the magic unfolds.

Eventually some of the more alert students will reluctantly organize themselves into study groups. This is a move in the right direction; they're no longer relying on a self-inflated "professor" to show them the way. But they're still full of predictably boring ideas, and so I do my best to disrupt their discussions with postmodern Socratic methods: walking around making annoying sounds; loudly interjecting Zen-like non sequiturs into their conversations ("he who dealt it, smelt it"); or standing behind someone while mouthing their words and mimicking their posture.
Reminds me of a science teacher I once had.

No postings for a few days. Have a Merry Christmas!

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