A short course in how to behave in class

25th April 2008 at 01:00
Do teachers really make the worst students? From the way they sit whispering in the back row on training days, you might think so

Do teachers really make the worst students? From the way they sit whispering in the back row on training days, you might think so. They are also very good at doing that thing that drives them crazy when their students do it: fixing their faces into an expression that says they would rather be anywhere than where they are at present.

Having just completed a short course myself, I have to confess to my own student-style misdemeanours: I began on one course, and after two sessions transferred to another; on the first night of the new course, I had a leaving do I couldn't miss. So it was week four before I actually put in an appearance.

Then I disappeared for another two weeks on holiday - pre-booked and thus unavoidable, you understand. At least I knew enough to refrain from turning up on week seven and casually asking if I'd missed anything.

Fortunately, my long-suffering tutor had a rather laid-back approach to teaching. His philosophy on attendance was definitely: "You're paying, I'm here, you can come if you want or do the other thing if you don't." In an age where lecturers are supposed to be constantly ringing, texting and emailing their students, begging them to come to class, I found this refreshing.

There are other problems, too, that come with having teachers as members of your class. Sometimes they forget they are not actually in charge, and thus not required to pontificate throughout the entire lesson. Hopefully I managed to avoid this one. I did not, however, entirely escape from the teacher-as-student's other vice, which might be summed up as judgementalism.

My course was on the writing of fiction. My teacher was a writer, a lovely man who knew what he was talking about and interesting to boot. Preparation, however, wasn't his strong point. If too few of us brought along material to read, you got the distinct impression he was winging it.

Ever the teacher, I duly brought along some material of my own and offered it for consideration. He accepted with good grace. At least on the surface he did. What exactly he was feeling on the inside about "bloody teachers" I could only guess.

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