Sunday, April 19, 2009

Class Boring? It's (Probably) Your Fault!

I've been in school all my life. As I graduate next month with my Master of the Arts degree, I cap off six years of continuous collegiate education past the required public schooling. So, as someone who has been in school for a long time, I realize that not every teacher or professor is interesting (or even interested, for that matter).

However, as someone who has been a teacher myself for the past two years during graduate school, I have come to realize one thing — in many cases, if you're bored in class, it might be your own fault. Again, I'll throw in the disclaimer that this isn't always the case, but at least give your professor a chance before you think he or she is as boring as Ben Stein solving a sudoku puzzle. (As a side note, sudoku has been known to start unfinished blog wars.)

I've taught two classes each semester since I've been in grad school, and I've always found the differences between each of the two classes to be very distinct and interesting. I am sure time of day factors into things quite a bit, but I actually think sometimes you just get a class full of Debbie Downers and Negative Nancies.

Sometimes, a morning class can be so boring to teach, and then the exact same material can be fun and interesting to teach with a seemingly identical afternoon class. Here's the catch: the energy you as a student bring to the classroom is directly correlated with the energy your professor will have (in almost every case).

When my students blankly stare at me or don't even acknowledge that I asked a question, I tend to move along and get through the class in a more dry manner myself. But when my students ask questions, open up to discussion, crack some jokes before class, and just all-around participate with some enthusiasm, I tend to be more energetic and have more fun teaching the class. For the classes that I know are interested and enthusiastic, I'm more likely to deviate from the script and traditional sorts of assignments so that we can experiment with new learning tools and discuss areas that seem more relevant to those students.

So, just a little something to keep in mind the next time you're scribbling "kill me now" or "I'm falling asleep" or "FML" — try just once to put some effort into making the class interesting and see if the professor pushes back with some of that energy him or herself. It's worth a try because if you don't at least try, the only person you have to blame for a boring class is, well, yourself!

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