Monday, June 29, 2015

An instructive rebuke

Professor McDreamy in Tweed uses the Socratic method of instruction where he asks critical questions to jump start our thinking. He is not afraid of a pregnant pause and faces down a blank stare  with patience. 

Today he rebuked me for not answering his question in a full sentence. He said "Let's practise speaking in full sentences, shall we?" The sting of his comment hasn't left me. I wasn't sure if this was his attempt to silence me (extroverts don't fare well in small classes).  If you've watched the Paper Chase where Professor Charles Kingsford played by John Houseman questions his first year law students,  you'll know what I mean. 

There is no question that I find this method intimidating and unnerving. My academic confidence  took a hit today. I didn't like feeling stupid in front of my class. I didn't like that he thought I was incapable of formulating whole sentence responses. I didn't like that he used his role in this way. 

But here's the thing: I didn't come to Harvard to be molly-coddled nor stroked. Discovering annoying aspects of yourself in this way chips away at your carefully constructed self-image,  but it also opens a path for self-evaluation and discovery. 


Anonymous said...

Youch! That is a terrible sting! If he thinks you don't speak in full sentences I fear what would happen to me in that classroom! Sounds like it will be a season of tongue biting and tongue loosening! You are up for the challenge that this class brings! This I know for SURE!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bonnie! Your experience reminds me of one of the early courses I took in my MS program. I discovered, through professor feedback, that I was not good at staying on topic when responding to questions - it was as if I filled in words (and sentences) and moved the topic in whatever direction came to mind. This should not have surprised me, as friends have pointed out my 'stream of consciousness' talking in other contexts. . . However, although I felt the sting (mostly of annoyance at myself) I was spared the social embarrassment because it was an online class. But your conclusion is absolutely right - feedback can move you in a new direction and sharpen your skills and thinking. After all, you (and the rest of the group) all had to meet a certain standard to be in the class at all, not something everyone achieves! (Rose)

mom/Janet said...

Three more sleeps and you can cuddle in Bobs unconditional love and support!