One thing I love about Lawrence is the small class size. For example, this term I am in three classes with eight, eight, and five students, respectively. With classes this small, we usually follow a discussion format — professors and students alike propose topics, and each student is encouraged to share his opinion. I find this class format both challenging and rewarding, and I think that most of the time the class period goes by very smoothly. By sitting around a table and sharing ideas, we really do get an intense, informed look at the topic we are studying. And, in these small upper-level classes, one can usually be sure that most of the students are reading carefully and sharing their true concerns and ideas.
I don’t want to turn this editorial into a corny admiration of Lawrence academics, but I do have to add that I usually leave the classroom with new ideas and opinions, and I feel that I always gain something by hearing what my peers have to say. That being said, sometimes I wonder what it’s like on the other side of the discussion table; what goes through the professor’s mind during class?
Of course, most of the time we can be sure that the professor is thinking about the discussion topic. I mean, that is what they’re passionate about — helping others learn about a subject they too find intriguing. But think about it: you did all the reading for your English class today. You came to class prepared, with some ideas to present, and you are also interested in hearing what the other students say. But, with the small amount of sleep you got last night, and the professor’s relaxing tone of voice, you feel your eyes starting to close. Before you know it, you have no idea where the conversation has gone, and you wonder if you had actually fallen asleep for a minute or two.
I am not suggesting that professors are anywhere near falling asleep in class; I have never seen such a thing. But who’s to say that they don’t let their minds wander a bit, too? We all have busy lives and sometimes are just too distracted by other thoughts — I’m sure professors are the same. So, who knows? Maybe they, too, are thinking about Heath Ledger or the upcoming basketball game. Maybe that’s just part of the professor’s “je ne sais quoi.” We probably won’t ever know what they are distracted by, but we can be sure that they daydream sometimes, too.