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Are you “yikes” in class?

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As college students, we all have areas of specialty. I mean, that is what a major is after all. It’s great to have particular topics that you feel confident about and are willing to supplement classroom discussion with pertinent information. What is not great is taking it upon yourself to steamroll a class to either shout out totally unnecessary information or shout-down a peer who has valuable contributions. Although all of us have presumably had over a decade of educational experience in our lives, it is never too late to learn how to not be obnoxious in the classroom.

In order to help you decide if you are guilty of obnoxious classroom behavior, let’s use some examples. I’ll ask a question, you answer. Pretty simple.

Question 1: Have you ever talked without raising your hand despite the fact that at least four of your classmates had their hands up, waiting to answer the very same question?

Questions 2: Have you ever contributed in class only to have your professor look at you in an unsure way and tell you, “Okay, but that’s not the question I asked”?

Question 3: Have you ever had to make a joke at the expense of one of your peers in the middle of class to save face because they revealed that your understanding of a topic (literally any topic) was not as vast and complete as theirs?

Question 4: Have you ever interrupted a professor because you knew how to finish their sentence better than they did?

Question 5: Is this undergraduate program just a waste of time for you because you already know enough to get you through a dissertation?

“It’s great to have particular topics that you feel confident about and are willing to supplement classroom discussion with pertinent information. What is not great is taking it upon yourself to steamroll a class to either shout out totally unnecessary information or shout-down a peer who has valuable contributions.”

-Lily Kime (‘19)

If you answered YES to QUESTION 1: You are likely a product of an unfortunate educational practice of letting particular students (usually male students) speak out of turn, but reprimand other students (usually female students) for doing the same. Help promote gender equality and stop talking whenever you feel like it you’re sufficiently stomping on the toes of all of your peers. You’re not the only person in the room with intelligent thoughts to share.

If you answered YES to QUESTION 2: Sometimes this happens in normal classroom discussion when a question is opened ended. But if a professor asks about the literature of William Faulkner and you finish your answer talking about how roses are the most overrated flowers, you should learn to control your stream of thought a bit. It’s great that you’re excited, but you’re effectively steamrolling the entire class by prioritizing your rants over the actual learning of a group of paying customers.

If you answered YES to QUESTION 3: Someone will always know more than you about pretty much anything. It’s going to happen, and you better learn how to swallow your pride in order to grow as a learner and as a person. Making someone feel foolish for adding something of value to discussion is an immature decision to make. A good student’s goal is to further discussion by contributing valuable thoughts and information and supporting their peers’ valuable contributions.

If you answered YES to QUESTION 4: This is only alright to do when your professor is struggling to remember a word. If that isn’t the case, you should definitely stop. Maybe just never speak again. I’m sure your professor would support this decision. And remember that you are also not the person your peers are paying to listen to, so hush it up, backseat teacher.

If you answered YES to QUESTION 5: You are beyond my ability to help. You have completed your transition into a twit and can not be brought back from that state of being. Your professors and peers are counting the seconds until you graduate.

Hopefully this short questionnaire has helped you toward becoming a more respectful and valuable member of a classroom. Go forth and at least attempt to be a positive, supportive voice in discussions. Or do not and know that you are the bane of several existences.

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